Sanbornton again considers senior housing ordinance

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

SANBORNTON — Although senior housing has a checkered history stretching more than a decade, the Planning Board will present a proposal to permit the development of housing for senior citizens to Town Meeting in March.

Some years ago, on the recommendation of the Planning Board, the town repealed its original senior housing ordinance after first one then another project foundered after meeting opposition from neighbors and failing to secure financing. Two years ago, voters at Town Meeting rejected a proposal to convene a committee to consider drafting a new ordinance.

Evelyn Auger, who chairs the Planning Board, said that several surveys conducted over the years indicated that residents support including the opportunity to develop senior housing in the land use ordinances.

"All the feedback has been good feedback," she said.

As proposed, the ordinance would restrict the occupancy of family units to households headed by a person at least 62 years old. Senior housing projects would be confined to within a 3-mile radius of the intersection of Sanborn Road (NH Route 132) and Currier Road. Within a 2-mile radius, three buildings, each with four dwelling units of not more than two bedrooms, would be permitted per acre. Between the 2-mile radius and the 3-mile radius, one building of four dwelling units would be permitted per acre. A lot of at least 5 acres would be required for a senior housing project.

Auger explained that the board chose to restrict senior housing to an area within easy reach of emergency services.

Senior housing would be prohibited elsewhere in the town and the number of dwelling units for seniors would be limited to not more than 10 percent of the total number of dwelling units in the town.

The ordinance stipulates that the design of senior housing developments must "promote the rural character of the town, maximize the privacy of the dwelling units, preserve the natural character of the land to the greatest degree."

Auger stressed that "we're not talking about assisted living or nursing homes." At the same time, she said, "We have no one out there who is going to build anything."

The ordinance, she continued "may never be used, but we need it." Auger said that when seniors reach the age "when they don't want to shovel the snow, mow the grass and paint the house," their only option is to leave the town.

"We don't want people who live in Sanbornton and want to stay here to have to leave," she said.

"Enough is enough," said Bill Whalen, who chaired the Planning Board and served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. "Two senior housing projects failed and the ordinance was repealed by an overwhelming majority." He said that "there is no evidence that people in town want senior housing."

At the same time, Whalen questioned the legality of restricting senior housing project to the boundary of a circle. "I've never heard of zoning by a radius," he said, adding that the two circles will likely cause confusion by crossing lot lines. He said that he asked for a map, but received no response.

Referring to the vote of Town Meeting in 2014 against forming a committee to consider a senior housing to form a committee to consider a senior housing ordinance, Whalen said "The vote speaks for itself."

Resubmitted SB2 petition will appear on Shaker ballot

By Gail Ober
THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT — The petitioners who would like to see the voters choose SB2, or official ballot voting, in the Shaker Regional School District have successfully resubmitted their petition in time to meet the deadline.

Business Administrator Deb Thompson said yesterday there aren't as many signatures on this petition as there were on the original one, which was rejected for technical reasons, and the warrant article will appear on the ballot. Public hearings on the Official Ballot Law will be held on Feb. 9 in Belmont and Feb. 16 in Canterbury.

Voting day for the election of School Board members and the warrant article to institute the Official Ballot Law to Shaker Regional is on March 4, which was incorrectly reported in yesterday's Daily Sun. The polls open at 11 a.m. at the Belmont High School and the annual district meeting convenes after the polls close at 7 p.m.

Traditionally, the polls for the Shaker School District have been open from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for election of board members and the business portion of he meeting convened at 7 p.m. Thompson said the District's lawyers advised them earlier this year that the district needed to have its polls open no later than 11 a.m.

Meredith selectmen recommend $14.2 million operating budget

By Michael Kitch
THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — After a public hearing, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last night to recommend a budget for 2016 of $14,168,843, which represents an increase in expenditures of $119,807 or 0.8 percent, to voters at Town Meeting on March 9.
With revenues from sources other than property taxes projected to shrink, the budget maintains current levels of service, representing a continued reduction in services from 2008, to which the total amount raised by property taxes is benchmarked.
The budget includes a 2 percent wage adjustment and merit raise for qualified employees. There are appropriations for the purchase of vehicles and equipment, including $250,000 for a tub grinder for the solid waste facility, as well as additions to expendable trust funds for replacing vehicles and equipment for the Department of Public Works and Fire Department.
Revenues from sources other than property taxes are projected to decline by $483,513, or 9.3 percent, from $5,211,813 in 2015 to $4,728,300 in 2016, leaving $8,951.293 to be raised by property taxes. With no change in the total assessed valuation of $1,749,719,547, the town portion of tax rate is projected to rise by 28 cents, from $4.81 to $5.09 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of 5.8 percent.
Marc Abear said that “the economy is not growing at 5.8 percent, Social Security is not growing at 5.8 percent and the incomes of residents are not growing at 5.8 percent” and said it was hard to understand how to square a constant level of service with a 5.8 increase in the budget. Warning of “an ever increasing spiral,” he asked, “How do we match the income of the community with the needs of the town?”
Selectman Ray Moritz explained that the 5.8 percent applies to the town tax rate and that recommended increase in the budget is less than 1 percent, which he described as “negligible.”

Three file for re-election
The composition of the Board of Selectmen is unlikely to change with the election next. Incumbents Nate Torr, Jonathan James and Mike Pelczar were the only candidates to file for the three open seats and appear to be returning without opposition.