Open Space Committee
Pelham, New Hampshire

 

Even with the defeat of Article 21 at the March 9th town election, we are still encouraged with the level of support that many in the community have provided us.  In fact, we are thrilled with the enormous amount of press we have been receiving on the message board.  Here are a few samples:

 

A conservation fund was one goal in an acquisition strategy that includes many options. The Conservation Commission has been working for three years evaluating and planning for Pelham’s open space needs. We have studied reports, attended seminars and consulted experts to assist us with our plans. We will be pushing hard for inclusion of open space planning in the upcoming revamping of the Town’s Master Plan in the year 2000. We are working with the Planning Board to improve subdivision design in order to minimize habitat impact. We regularly beg developers for open space donations. Last year a developer donated a 22 acre parcel as a conservation buffer along Beaver Brook.

Actually paying for land is a more daunting undertaking because it means we have to dig into our pockets. The requirements for this type of land protection are more rigorous.

In my view the Commission is committed to omprehensive, long term planning and this effort will continue to be ongoing.

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And what about Article 21 on the Town ballot for “open space”? Why would the voters not follow this elected board’s recommendations on these very important issues? And then there is our CIP Committee. While in this Town the CIP is only an advisory group answering to the Planning Board (or something like that), these dedicated folks have spent the past three years working on behalf of us all to put together a LONG-RANGE PLAN for the Town of Pelham.

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Everything seemed very positive at first with the apparent election of Bill McDivitt and Deb Casey, but Article 21 being rejected was a major disappointment. Where was all this opposition before the election? Why did they not come forward and make their voices heard before the ballots were cast? The rest of us voiced our opinions, why didn’t they do likewise?I too am very confused with the number of contradictions in the results:People voted for selectman that supported certain issues but then voted against these issues – at least try to remain consistent.No on the new school, but no on the modular classrooms and no on the charter schools – what’s left??No on the incinerator and no on the transfer station (at least not enough for a passing majority)It appears that people were casting their vote without clearly understanding the issues. If the vote went one direction or the other, that would be fine, but ‘no’ votes were cast on questions that were more or less mutually exclusive. The other day, while reading the sample ballot at town hall, I overheard a person exclaim ‘Vote NO on everything’. I hope that this person is happy with the results.

 

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I am also very disappointed that Article 21 (Open Space) was defeated. There are some beautiful pieces of land in Town and I was hoping this might have given us a chance to preserve them, as well as, helping to curb development (and more children entering the school system!).

 

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I understand the loss on the voting for a new school has preoccupied many but may I interject here with a couple of other issues?The loss on Article 21: 77 other town have a mechanism to purchase land and/or development rights using a portion of the current use penalties. Pelham voted down a very modest version by 50 votes. Those landowners who were hoping to go to the town with a purchase option are now, I assume, contacting developers-way to go Pelham. BTW I have a client interested in putting up low income housing.

 

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Our town went through quite a lot of hype after this past tuesday.Everybody seems quite upset about a lot of of issues.I just want to touch base on a few of these issues.#1 it is a shame aricle 21 did not pass,As mentioned in a previous mesage time to build some low cost housing rite next to your house,Maybe about 200 new homes with abot 350 new school age children.That would only be a cost of approximately 1,750.000 dollars just for schooling costs.As a member of Pelhams conservation commission, and a land surveyor for over 15 yrs in this region,I know what the affects of over developement can do to a community. There is no doubt developement is necesary for a strong economy and not to mention we all need a place to live.But we should not pass up a oppurtunity to acquire undeveloped land for our town.I dont want this town to look like another Billerica or Chelmsford with no where turn to but another house.Our town is still a nice piece of earth to live on.Lets try to keep our town somewhat of a rural community

 

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I'm glad to see that people concerned about the tax rates are looking beyond this tax year. Long term thinking is necessary for lower taxes. Short term savings and short-sighted thinking go hand in hand. In that vein I would like to ask you to vote AGAINST the budget committee's recommendation and vote FOR article 21. This article would take a portion of the current use penalty tax to purchase land and thereby avoid development that leads to higher taxes. The selectmen voted for this, as did many on the budget committee. Last year's town meeting voted for it but the wording was incorrect which is why it is back on the ballot. Over 70 comunities in NH use this device, including most of our neighbors. There is matching funds coming down from Concord and Washington to leverage the impact. It is a good deal for property owners, protectors of undeveloped land and most importantly for taxpayers

 

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I have rarely felt so passionately about something as I do about article 21. 20 years ago, the town I grew up in was much like Pelham is today. Now the streets are congested, the schools are overcrowded, open space is almost nonexistent and there are a host of other problems trying to provide services to the entire community. But the issue extends beyond keeping our town character in tack and the preservation of recreational area for the future, but to the tax rate as well. Simply put, the tax revenue generated from new development is not sufficient to cover the costs to provide town services to these new developments. That means everyone's taxes increase to cover the shortfall.Article 21 provides us with an opportunity to control this.

 

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I too am passionate about this article. Each night as I drive home from work I pass Eric's farm lands on 38 and the fields of Muldoon. I shutter to think of these beautiful tracts of land developed. I think the tax rate reduction of Open Space preservation is a great benefit on top of the other benefits we get. What more could you ask for as a resident preservation of our rural charm and a stabilized or lower tax rate. Article 21 should be viewed as a great use of our resources in more ways than one.

 

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