Town Meeting: Exeter OKs $50M Sewer Plant, Many Other Projects Fail

Mar 9, 2016

Voters in Exeter have approved bonding for a new $49.9 million wastewater treatment facility to bring the town into compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency. 

 Seacoast Online reports the proposal got 72 percent of voters backed the biggest capital project in the town's history. 

Town administrator Russell Dean told NHPR earlier this week the project would mean about $650 a year in additional costs for the average sewer ratepayer, but says it's necessary if the town wants to be in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.

"We're out of compliance," Dean said. "The options are very limited: you either meet the permit requirements or you don't, and if you don't, they have the ability to come in and fine the town. That's where we find ourselves."

Exeter has been under an EPA mandate to build a new facility since 2013, as part of an agreement aimed at limiting the amount of nitrogen output into the Squamscott River and Great Bay.

Construction is expected to begin by spring of next year. Voters in Exeter have also approved a $5.4 million plan to build an addition onto Main Street School to house a full day kindergarten program.  The school currently operates a half-day program with more than 120 students. 

Voters in other towns rejected several major infrastructure projects during Tuesday's annual Town Meeting.

In Hampton, voters rejected a proposed $25 million renovation of Hampton Academy.

The measure received 56 percent support, but failed to reach the 60 percent needed to pass.

North Hampton voters rejected a $6.5 million proposal to build a town campus, which would have included new homes for town’s fire and police departments, as well as a new town library.

Voters in Barrington rejected a $2.9 million proposal to build a new town hall.

Officials there have been working out of a temporary town hall since 2011 after the old building was deemed unsuitable due to air quality issues.

An $8.2 million plan to expand and renovate an elementary school in Raymond failed by just 19 votes.

Hampstead voters rejected a $4.6 million plan to expand and renovate Hampstead Central School.

And Hampton Falls voters turned down a $4.3 million plan to renovate that town’s school, the fourth year in a row such a proposal has failed.

Milton voters approved a $2.8 million fire and EMS building, while voters in Newtown shot down a proposal to build a new $1.5 million fire station. 

Voters in the town of Kensington approved spending $29,000 to purchase body cameras for police officers, as well as additional cameras for police cruisers.