Ossipee—March 12, 2023—The three communities surrounding Ossipee Lake will hold elections and town meetings this week to vote on leadership positions and consider the usual array of budget and regulatory issues.
The most high-profile election race is in Ossipee, where incumbent Select Board member and current chair Jonathan Smith is being challenged by Christopher Templeton. An Ossipee native and former educator, Templeton previously served on the Select Board from 1986-88.
He told the Conway Daily Sun last week he thinks townspeople should have a hand in shaping positive change, and he believes Ossipee can be more proactive in attracting eco-friendly businesses. He said the Ossipee Aquifer is “the most important natural asset we have,” and “it must be safeguarded.”
Incumbent Smith, a board member since 2020, told the Sun his “commitment of time and perseverance” has resulted in “a list of accomplishments that are too long to list,” but include addressing the delay in reinstalling the Whittier Covered Bridge, and ending illegal tax payment plans and certain property tax exemptions.
Key Area Warrant Articles
Area voters will assess a wide array of warrant articles. Ossipee’s Warrant Article 45 recommends reducing the Conservation Commission to three members, the lowest number permitted by RSA 36-A:3, and the lowest number among conservation commissions in our area.
Ossipee’s commission had seven active members, the maximum allowed, in 2018, but currently has just three active members, with two vacancies and two vacant alternate positions.
In an email to Ossipee Lake Alliance, Select Board Chair Smith said a three-member commission is a “more realistic number based on the willingness of people to volunteer, which seems to be getting more and more difficult for people to do.”
In Freedom, Warrant Article 2 is in response to the legislature’s goal of addressing the state housing shortage by mandating local adjustments to incentives in senior housing regulations if they are more permissive than workforce housing regulations.
Because Freedom’s zoning ordinance offers incentives to senior housing that are not offered to workforce housing developments, the Planning Board is recommending that the provisions of Section 1102 Senior/Elderly Housing be the same as provisions of Section 1105 Workforce Housing in the zoning ordinance.
In another recommendation based on a state change, Freedom’s Article 3 would allow the zoning officer to issue permits for low impact shoreland and wetland projects upon receipt of a permit by notification, or an expedited minimum impact permit from DES. The change would relieve property owners from having to go to the ZBA for approval of low impact projects.
Effingham officials are proposing an Animal Control Ordinance to regulate horses, farm animals and poultry. If adopted, Warrant Article 22 will make it unlawful to allow such animals to “run at large” in public places, meaning off the owner’s property and not under control “by leash, cord, chain, or otherwise.”
Anyone who willfully or negligently violates the ordinance may be subject to a penalty of up to $1,000 for each offense on top of reimbursing the town for expenses incurred in the capturing, transporting and holding of the escaped animal, boarding costs, and any medical care required by the holding facility.
There are major changes being made to the Ossipee Zoning Articles. Please read the changes to the zoning articles carefully as some obliterate the tree buffer requirements, and others seem to open the door for another “Meena.”
Meaningful change begins at the local level. Your voice is important. Please Vote.
I am looking for a No vote on the following warrant articles in the town of Ossipee.
Warrant Article # 4- Are you in favor of the adoption of amendment 4 as proposed by the planning board for the town’s zoning ordinance as follows: Amendment modifies Article V-Performance Standards, “Sections 5.6(a), (e), 5.9, 5.10 and amends regulations concerning erosion control, water quality, and preservation of landscaping.
My main concern is the town wants to remove zoning ordinance 5.10 Preservation of landscaping in its entirety which currently reads as follows:
5.10 PRESERVATION OF LANDSCAPE The landscape shall be preserved in its natural state, insofar as practicable, by minimizing tree removal, and any grade changes shall be in keeping with the general appearance of neighboring Ossipee Zoning Ordinance – Amended through March 8, 2022 – Page 27 developed areas. All parking or outdoor storage areas shall be separated from any public road by a landscaped buffer strip.
I believe that this zoning ordinance is in place to minimize tree removal and to prevent clear cutting of property to preserve the landscape in its natural state.
Warrant Article # 7- Are you in favor of the adoption of amendment 6 as proposed by the planning board for the town’s zoning ordinance as follows: Amendment modifies article VIII- “Setbacks and Buffers” Sections 8.2 and 8.3 and amends regulations concerning buffered areas (eliminated entirely) and Landscaping (renumbered to 8.2 greenspace).
My concern with this change is it removes zoning ordinance 8.2 Buffered areas and changes it to 8.3 Landscaping. This would again promote clear cutting of property and not preserve trees that are in place that provide natural habitat for wildlife and a natural buffer between neighbors.
The current zoning ordinance 8.2 and 8.3 is written as follows:
8.2 BUFFERED AREAS The buffered or screened area shall provide a visual buffer sufficient to minimize any adverse impact on abutting land use and be densely planted with shrubs or trees which are at least three (3) feet high at the time of planting and are of a type which may be expected to form a year round dense screen at least five (5) feet high within three (3) years, such buffers shall not obstruct the view of oncoming traffic when entering or exiting from the property. The plant material shall be maintained in a healthy condition. Plants which die shall be replaced within one (1) growing season. Where, because of intense shade or soil conditions, the planting screen cannot be expected to thrive, a four (4) foot high visually solid fence or masonry wall may be substituted, provided that:
8.2.1. The land required for screening is included in the setback.
8.2.2. Required planting shall take place prior to occupancy or, if not possible because of the season of the year, at the next planting season.
8.3 LANDSCAPING- All setback areas not covered by the screened area shall be landscaped (retained natural woodland shall be the preferred landscaping) or covered with grass, shrubs or ground cover, and shall not be paved or used for parking.
A No vote on these two warrant articles would keep trees that had been in place for years and help preserve the natural woodland that makes Ossipee so beautiful.