Petitioners race to bring SB2 voting to Shaker

By Gail Ober

BELMONT — Petitioners are scrambling to resubmit a reworded warrant article to convert the Shaker Regional School District to the Official Ballot Law, commonly called SB2, after the district rejected the petition.

Petitioners until the close of business tomorrow to resubmit the article.

Business Administrator Deb Thompson said yesterday that, according to the school district's attorney Jim O'Shaughnessy and the Department Revenue Administration, the wording on the petition has to be exactly as it is written in the statute as stated in RSA 40:13 – the state law that established the Official Ballot Law, commonly called SB2.

According to Selectman Jon Pike and Thompson, the lead petitioner, when the petition was drafted, the petitioners forgot to include the words "the second Tuesday of March" as a reference to the date the actual vote would be taken.

Thompson said she called Pike and told him yesterday morning. She said that she didn't notice the omission of the word "March," but the attorney and the DRA did. She said the petitioned warrant article was submitted to the school district on Jan. 21 or 22.

Pike said yesterday that supporters of SB2 for the school district are recirculating the petition and he expects to have the requisite 25 signatures in time for the Feb. 3 deadline to submit all petitioned warrant articles.

Thompson said yesterday that date for the public hearings for the SB2 article had already been noticed in the newspapers and, if the petition is resubmitted in time, will be Feb. 9 for Belmont residents at the Belmont Middle School and Feb. 16 at the Canterbury Elementary School.

If the newly worded article is put on the ballot, it will take a two-thirds majority to pass. The vote will take place along with the election of town and school officials on March 8.

Sanbornton again considers senior housing ordinance


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Some years ago, on the recommendation of the Planning Board, the town repealed its original senior housing ordinance after first one then another project foundered after meeting opposition from neighbors and failing to secure financing.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

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.