North Country
4:57 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

North Country Town Meetings: Everything From Fighting Corporations To Reviving A Town Ski Slope

Chris Jensen for NHPR
Newscast version.

Voters headed to town meetings Tuesday in the North Country will find some unusual issues including creating a community ski slope, challenging the rights of corporations as people, abolishing a police department and excluding “formula stores and fast-food restaurants.”

* In Bethlehem voters are considering two articles aimed at preventing “formula retail and formula fast food restaurants” from locating in the center of town.

Those stores are identified as having features such as interior or exterior color schemes, architectural signage “or similar standardized features” that cause the business to “be substantially identical to another retailer or restaurant.”

* In Lyman and Thornton voters are being asked to challenge the legal conclusion that corporations are people and therefore have constitutional rights. These are so-called rights-based ordinances.

“Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech,” says the Lyman article.

In Thornton the article declares the town has a right to protect the “health, safety and welfare of residents and ecosystems” by prohibiting “the siting of energy projects that violate the people’s right to a sustainable energy future.”

* In Dalton one warrant  article calls for abolishing the police department.  Another asks for a vote of no-confidence in the three-person select board hoping  “the selectmen will listen to the voice of the voters and step down.”

* In Littleton voters are being asked to authorize the selectmen to enter into a lease with a citizen group to use as much as 33 acres of land on Mount Eustis. The group is trying to revive an abandoned community ski slope and bring back more affordable downhill skiing.

* In Sugar Hill voters are being asked to encourage the use of alternative energy systems such as solar, wind or wood by allowing a tax exemption for the cost up to $20,000.

* In Lancaster voters are being asked whether they are in favor of the Northern Pass project and a privately run prison in town.

* In Whitefield voters are being asked to give elderly residents more of a property tax break by raising the current income limit from $18,400 for a single to $35,000. For a married couple the limit would increase from $26,400 to $40,000.

* In Lancaster voters will consider whether to spend $25,000 for the town’s 250th birthday next year.