Ossipee — February 2, 2017 — Selectmen here voted Jan. 23 not to accept the gift of a build-out analysis offered by Dan Hole Watershed Trust. The vote came a week after the board held a public hearing on the issue. As reported last week, at Town Meeting in March 2016, voters rejected a request for $3,000 to help fund a study that is meant to determine, based on the town’s zoning ordinance and population projections, what Ossipee will look like when it is fully developed in the future. In December 2016, the Trust offered to fundraise to match a state grant and then gift the resulting report to the town. The offer was considered at a planning board meeting where that board first accepted the Trust’s offer but then rescinded the vote and sent it on to selectmen.
Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield) who films the meetings called a point of order suggesting that selectmen are the only town board allowed to accept gifts and donations on behalf of the town.
The selectmen’s public hearing was divided with opponents of accepting the gift argued that town meeting voters had spoken and it was clear they not only did not want to pay for the study, they didn’t want it to happen at all. Proponents of the study argued it would be of great value to have all of the data as the planning board moves through updating the Master Plan, and that it was merely the money that town meeting voters were opposed to spending. Now that the study is free, they argued, there is no reason it should not be done.
Selectmen Richard Morgan and Robert Freeman both voted against the gift at the Jan. 23 selectmen’s meeting. Morgan said the best thing to do is to put the idea back on the warrant for March 2017 town meeting. It became evident at the public hearing that Dan Hole Watershed Trust was hopeful that town officials would work with the contractor charged with completing the study and that the finished product would be delivered to town officials. With no support from the selectmen or planning board, the Trust still plans to have the study completed, raise the $3,000 match from private and business donations, and once it is complete make the report available on their website.
Morgan said he plans to push for re-visiting discussion at March 2017 town meeting by adding an article to the warrant.