Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winchester deliberative session - 2015

Pickle Festival saved; racetrack regulations   are disqualified at our Town Meeting

WINCHESTER — Residents aren’t ready to sour on a popular town festival, or willing at this time to take steps to add restrictions, such as turning down the volume, at three racetracks.

A volunteer group, Winchester Proud, has made it possible for the Pickle Festival to survive another year, announcing at the town’s deliberative session Saturday morning it would take on the event. In the meantime, two petition warrant articles to further regulate Monadnock Speedway, Winchester Motorsports and Winchester Speedpark were disqualified during the five-plus hour meeting.

Roughly 80 people piled into Winchester Town Hall, including a small but forceful out-of-town pro-racetrack contingent. The town has about 2,480 registered voters.

Thirty-five warrant articles came before voters, including abolishing the Winchester Budget Committee (it was amended), and approving a town budget of more than $3 million (it was moved along, but not before a $26,000 increase).

Three other petition warrant articles, if passed, would direct town officials to take certain actions opposing the proposed construction of a pipeline by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, which is a Kinder Morgan Company.

The articles were moved to the warrant, but not before lengthy debate between those for and against the project.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is proposing construction of a 36-inch pipeline to carry natural gas from shale gas fields in Pennsylvania through upstate New York, part of Northern Massachusetts and into Southern New Hampshire before going to a distribution hub in Eastern Massachusetts.
The Monadnock Region communities in the path of the pipeline include Winchester, Richmond, Fitzwilliam, Troy and Rindge.

“This is our chance let a multiple-billion-dollar company know this is our town not their town,” Resident Rick Horton said.
Resident Richard Whittemore, a self-described “filthy capitalist,” said there is a shortage of power plants feeding the electric grid, and he’d like to be able to hook into a cheaper energy source.
He added that when the region loses electricity because there aren’t enough power plants, those opposing the pipeline are going to be “the biggest cry babies of all.”
Horton disagreed, saying New Hampshire produces more electricity than it uses, and as the project is being presented there are no provisions to deliver natural gas to Winchester or any towns in the path of the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the town’s Pickle Festival was in doubt after the event’s committee chairwoman, Roberta A. Fraser, also selectmen chairwoman, stepped down earlier. When no person or group stepped up, the selectmen dropped recommended funding for the festival from $4,000, a traditional amount, to $1.
But Horton and the group Winchester Proud offered to take on the work. An amendment by Fraser to restore funding to $4,000 passed, moving the article on to the warrant.
Horton, chairman of the Winchester School Board, said he’d “hate to see it go away.” He said he started Winchester Proud last summer as a Facebook page; the group’s mission is to better the community and make it a place people can be proud of, he said.

Resident Robert E. Davis, spokesman for the Winchester Noise Coalition, proposed two warrant articles seeking to enact further regulations on the racetracks. One warrant article asked voters to require selectmen to adopt bylaws for the regulation of racetracks that address hours and days of operation, limiting the number of race practice days to one four-hour slot per week, limiting the number of event days per year, and developing permit requirements for operators of the tracks.
A second warrant article sought voter approval to activate temporary regulations that would be valid until the next annual town meeting.
Those regulations would include requiring racetrack owners to install sound-engineered noise barriers and ensure every participating vehicle has a muffler that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s specifications to reduce exhaust and engine noise.

Town Moderator Denis V. Murphy 2rd read a letter from town counsel saying the first warrant article was “void, illegal and unenforceable” because town meeting can’t force the selectmen to enact bylaws that state laws give them the ability to adopt at the board’s discretion.

Davis defended the warrant articles saying that he and the coalition’s 131 members aren’t trying to put the racetracks out of business, but make them better neighbors.
“All we want to do is have one day a weekend of enjoyment of our homes,” he said. “I ask when you vote to remember there are several coalition members with horror stories of their children crying in pain because of the noise.”
His remarks were interrupted by boos, moans and hisses from some in the audience.
Undeterred, Davis continued speaking for several more minutes, until Murphy asked him to stop — twice. Davis continued, and Murphy called Police Chief Gary A. Phillips to escort Davis from the microphone. Davis kept talking as Phillips approached and Murphy called a recess. Davis then stopped talking and sat down.

Discussion continued with several pro-racetrack speakers drawing applause for their comments.
Horton said the benefits of having clean, functional racetracks in Winchester far outweigh the negative effects.
“We are proud to have racing in this town; it’s what Winchester is known for,” he said.

Resident Margaret A. Sharra, town code enforcement officer and land-use administrator, said the racetracks are regulated by the selectmen through the permitting process, but two of the tracks were established in the 1950s and ‘60s before zoning laws.
The combined property assessment for the tracks is $1.7 million, and the businesses pay more than $48,000 in taxes a year, she said, noting that they’re also involved in the community.

The majority of voters changed both articles before placing them on the warrant.
The first article was amended to include the language “not enforceable by law.” The second article was replaced to read, “To see if the town would vote to continue operating motor vehicle race tracks in town as currently in effect.”

A sparring match between selectmen, former and current budget committee members and residents marked debate over the issue of whether to abolish the budget committee. While many residents argued the committee is needed as part of check-and-balance oversight of town government, selectmen said they weren’t doing their job and some members weren’t making decisions in the best interest of the town.
As an example, Fraser said, the budget committee voted not to make recommendations on the proposed budgets for the town water and sewer departments, which is likely going to result in litigation costs.
Budget Committee member Kenneth Cole tried to defend his board’s actions, but Fraser and Selectman Theresa G. Sepe had strong words for him and other committee members.
“Right now, we spend more on litigation than anything else,” Sepe said. “Is that truly how you want a committee to run? It’s adversarial, and it’s not good for me, you or the community.”
The article was amended to see if the town will continue the budget committee, instead of abolishing it, before being moved to the warrant.

In other business, voters sent the town’s proposed 2015-16 operating budget to the warrant after adding $26,000 at the selectmen’s request. The proposed budget is now $3,410,489, an increase of $111,872, or about 3.4 percent, from the 2014-15 operating budget of $3,298,617 that voters approved last year.
As an official-ballot town, Winchester residents are allowed to discuss and amend town meeting warrant articles during the deliberative session. Residents vote by ballot on the warrant articles March 10.

Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.


Want to buy a house? said...

3.4% increase and Roberta said the budget committee is not on the same page as the select board. Well it looks like the budget committee, that you want to do away with, is sure as H--- on the same page as the taxpayers. What are the fixed income older family's supposed to do, or don't you care, Roberta?

Rich said...

I was talking to Mr. Davis yesterday and he told me the fight is not even close to being over with the racetracks, He will submit the racetracks warrant articles next year and the next after that until the cows come home. See if the racetrack owner Zerillo and Bosivert have time to show up every year from now on.

Mr. Davis is waiting to see if his attorney will file charges with the secretary of state on the election fraud Winchester pulled off Saturday again..

Anonymous said...

I'm sure by now the Secretary of State treats this like SPAM, most likely has these filters in Place, Davis, Voter fraud, Winchester, and bingo, right into the junk mail it goes.

Rich said...

Sigh.. yet another lib tard who has no idea what decent hard working people have to put up with the racetrack noise so you can kiss Bosivert's ass

Anonymous said...

I'm just lost on how when someone like Mr. Davis does not get his way, he screams Election fraud? It seems we hear this from him very often.

seeing the bigger picture said...

Perhaps because of the previous 23 violations that were documented and sworn to by over a dozen people when they filed their complaints with the State a couple of years ago, only to have the State investigator get hoodwinked by a certain "Mr. Pickle" and the investigation got dropped .. One lies and they all swear to it.
Yes, the problems in this town stem from those who have wormed their way into power; but the real issues are the apathy of the voters who do not show up at the polls and vote for change. People like Mr. Davis who attempt to set things right and who tries his utmost to be a good neighbor and work hard for the town get ridiculed and bad mouthed by the paid supporters of those who have been foolishly elected on name recognition alone. Look around, Winchester is a dying town, no jobs, no future and the only businesses it attracts are dubious contractors, loud noisy enterprises and smelly, harmful, out of state businesses that wouldn't be allowed to operate in the states they come from that bring no jobs to town.Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what the main problems are.

We can change, VOTE said...

personally I like having the race tracks in Winchester, but I can understand why there neighbors think the noise gets a little old at times. It pretty bad when the race track issue is the big story when many of us are taped out and cant afford a 3.4% increase in our tax bill. I understand most of the select board think they are holding a hard line, but most of us on the outside looking in think they could do a lot better. Its hard to do when the board and the department heads think of themselves as one big happy family. When you vote for the select board this year, you can vote for change, think about it. Support Marsh and Berthiaume, its time for change.

Dick said...

I have to remind the previous poster, Mr. Davis did not make an attempt to close the racetrack just limit the noise and how long they could run into the night and making their own rules. than you

Anonymous said...

This makes me laugh - they come from that bring no jobs to town. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what the main problems are, can you explain that comment again I believe both the Monadnock Speedway and Winchester Speedpark provide jobs for this town, both have been in this town for several years, if any of you old timers from town remember rattlesnake racing back in the day, Mr. Davis made the choice to move his family where he did knowing that both tracks were there, maybe he should have spent more time researching this piece of property like he does with town business. He is just stirring the pot.

Tired of the noise said...

To the poster above

Jobs? How many are you talking about, several, a dozen between both places? Two very prime pieces of real estate that could have been home to businesses like Market Basket or a manufacturing plant like the ones that went to Swanzey and Troy that would have provided more tax base and hundreds more jobs. But of course the racing crown from Massachusetts and Vermont would have no place to throw their trash, suck their brews and burn rubber on our highways if this town didn't provide the recreation for the miscreants from out of state. Great job Planning and Zoning Boards .. At least this town could do is get the owners to pay their taxes

corect me if I'm wrong said...

My Opinion, Both the pickle fest and the pumpkin fest are great times for the people that like that sort of thing, And the reason they work is because of the volunteer's who give there time year after year.Both events have costs that we the tax payer gets billed for, and I could be wrong, but I'm guessing its paying for law enforcement that doesn't volunteer and is probably charging o/t or detail rates.