To The Daily Sun,
I recently attended a meeting held in Alton about Workforce Housing (WFH). This meeting was hosted by the Alton Business Association (ABA) as a forum for the citizens of Alton to ask questions about WFH; there were about 70 people in attendance. We were told the, "Federal Government had nothing to do with Workforce Housing and it only had to do with the State of N.H." and then, "the Federal Agency, HUD was involved" and that, "the Town of Alton was awarded a $30,000 grant and then hired a consulting firm, which by the way, is the same firm who was paid $500 by the town to help write the grant" and that, "The town had to add $7,500 to the grant funds as a requirement of the grant". The firm is actually getting $37,500 for determining if Alton meets the WFH requirements under a new N.H. RSA 674: 58-61. Not only are the taxpayers paying the firm, we are paying for all the time spent by our town planner, building inspector, town assessor and their departments, who are all assisting this firm. We then learned that, "Alton already meets the criteria for the standards of workforce housing". But, because of the accepted grant, the town is now committed to changing our zoning, regardless of the need to do so. A perfect example of the tentacles of the federal government in all of this and no one can say where the mandates will end.
In addition to the mind boggling information we learned, several good questions were answered with an "I don't know" response. It didn't take long for people to intelligently decide workforce housing mandates should NOT be entertained as a beneficial aspect of rural living in Alton.
Interestingly, the ONLY person who showed any anger or hostility during the meeting was Tom Hoops, vice chair of the Alton Planning Board. In the two hours of question and answers, Tom Hoops was THE ONLY ONE who was disrespectful. Tom stood, speaking as, "a Planning Board Member" and began yelling and berating people who disagreed with his views. It's a sad day when citizens cannot speak freely before their elected officials without experiencing backlash.
The ABA will host another forum for Alton Citizens on Wednesday, September 25, 6 p.m., at the Gilman Museum. This federally-mandated program which, the state has adopted, and the Alton Selectboardhas embraced, is an issue that will affect everyone.