Town Meeting 2014

Town Meeting Vs. SB2

Mar 20, 2014
Robert Dennis Photography

The town meeting has often been called “the purest form of democracy,” and for more than three centuries, it was how New Hampshire local government was conducted.  Residents would gather on the second Tuesday in March – a convenient “down time” for farmers and loggers.  They’d deliberate for hours on budgets, and do a fair bit of socializing as well.   But more recently, attendance at town meetings steadily waned.  And so, about 20 years ago, the legislature gave towns a new option called Senate bill two.  This approach split the traditional process into two parts:  first, a “deliberative s

www.BackgroundNow.com / Flickr/Creative Commons

It’s town meeting time! A storied tradition in northern New England, and in New Hampshire especially. This week I found an old interview with Dartmouth College professor of history, Jere Daniell. He spoke with an unidentified NHPR reporter in July, 1994. Daniell has made close study of our town meeting and the history of the institution.

The roots of town meeting go back three centuries and have evolved over time. Once viewed as an extension of the old boys network which governed many towns, it enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the early 20th century. 

Flickr - Images of Money

Voters at town meetings across New Hampshire approved resolutions urging state lawmakers to join a nationwide effort to overturn Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down limits on political spending by corporations, labor unions and special interest groups.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 28 towns had approved petition warrants supporting campaign finance reform, including Exeter, Amherst, Salem, Deerfield, Hudson, Rindge and Windham.

Sean Hurley

The annual town meeting at Hart's Location might be a small affair, but it usually attracts almost 80 per cent of its registered voters and this year was no different.

Not far from Bretton Woods and Mount Washington - the biggest ski area in the state and our highest mountain - sits the smallest town in New Hampshire - Hart's Location. Population, I'm told, just under 40.

Before the town meeting begins, Moderator Les Shoof announces the unofficial results of the just completed town election.

Donna Hiltz / NHPR

For the second year in a row, voters in the Newfound region have used town-meeting day to voice their disapproval of proposed wind development in the area. Ordinances and resolutions restricting wind development passed by wide margins. Alexandria, Danbury, Hebron and Ashland all passed wind related warrant articles by as much as five to one.

There were a wide variety of measures.

Canterbury Passes Looser Farmstand Regulations

Mar 12, 2014
Farmers Mkt Produce
USDA

Regulations on farmstands in Canterbury will be loosened.  Two-thirds of residents voted in favor of the measure on Tuesday. 

Josh Rogers

In a race that was too close to call Tuesday night, Republican Joe Kenney declared victory this morning in a special election to fill the vacant District 1 Executive Council seat.

He fills the seat left vacant by longtime North Country Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died late last year.

Kenney took 51 percent of the vote, just enough to defeat Democrat and Grafton County Commissioner Mike Cryans.

Dublin Voters Say No To Drive-Thru

Mar 12, 2014

Hungry motorists in the Town of Dublin will need to get out of their vehicles for provisions. Residents rejected a proposed ballot measure on Tuesday that would have permitted commercial drive-thrus in certain zoned districts, on a vote of 339-222.

The town’s lone gas station at the intersection of Routes 101 and 137 is seeking to renovate its convenience store, and add a drive-thru window.

Opponents of the plan argued drive-thrus would change the character of the small town, and open the door to more commercial development.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  Voters in the town of Newmarket have turned down a controversial new school building.  The $45 million dollar new school would have replaced the existing junior and senior high school, part of which is 90 years old.

Newmarket Principal Christopher Andriski  says the building isn't modern enough to accomodate what he calls "twenty-first century learning." It also violates fire and safety codes, as well as requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Andriski says he’s disappointed with the results:

The town of Hooksett said no Tuesday to a 10-year deal with Pinkerton Academy in Derry. Only about 44% of residents voted in favor of the contract.


Roads in Bedford will soon get a major facelift, after voters in the town approved a $30 million bond to address a backlog of road improvements.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

It’s Town Meeting day, which means voters across the Granite State are heading to the polls to weigh in on budgets, capital projects, and local elections.

Voters in northern New Hampshire will head to the polls tomorrow to pick a new Executive Councilor.

Amanda Loder / NHPR

While national interest in agriculture has declined over the past five years, the US Department of Agriculture reports a five percent increase in New Hampshire farms

And those farmers who open roadside farmstands reap the benefits of the local food movement.  But this traditional venture has become a point of contention—and an item on the Town Meeting ballot—for the town of Canterbury. 

What Makes A Farmstand A Farmstand?

Maureen O'Reilly beams with pride as she shows a visitor around Grafton, N.H., a town so small it doesn't even have a traffic light.

"Have a look at this," O'Reilly says, pointing to a postcard view of hilly rural New England. "How beautiful is this? It's really pretty in the fall, really, really pretty."

But behind the beautiful view, locals are dividing into opposing camps. About 50 Libertarians have moved into Grafton from around the country, splitting the town over their push to shrink its government.

On Tuesday, the town of Hooksett will vote whether to approve a contract with Pinkerton Academy in Derry. If voters approve the deal, it could spell the end for the town’s century-long relationship with Manchester schools.


Does A Drive-Thru Change A Town? Dublin Must Decide

Mar 7, 2014
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Nestled at the base of Mount Monadnock, the town of Dublin remains a portrait of New England life. There’s no neon, no chains stores, not even a bank.

So, it was a bit curious when a sign popped up last month proclaiming the arrival of a Taco Bell. Hand-painted on plywood, it stands along Route 101 on the edge of property owned by Andy Freeman. He says it isn’t personal.

“Do I have a problem with Taco Bell? No, I don’t have any problem with Taco Bell at all,” says Freeman.

Voters in Bedford will decide next week whether to pass a $30 million bond to pay for a backlog of road improvements.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

At town meeting this year, a handful of towns in the Newfound Lake region, and elsewhere, will take up questions related to wind farms. Many of these articles highlight the tensions between neighboring towns when one hosts a wind farm and its tax benefits, and the other just has to look at it. This dynamic often plays out in small town politics that may come to a head on town meeting day.

Republican Joe Kenney and Democrat Mike Cryans will face off in a special election March 11 to replace longtime District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died in November.

A retired colonel in the United States Marine Corps, Kenney spent 14 years as a state legislator, in both the House and the Senate. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 2008 and lost to Democrat John Lynch. Kenney won a three-way Republican primary in January.