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Volume 7 Number 41 April 23, 2010 10 Pages
Windham Resident’s ‘One-Two’ Punch Knocks Out Attempt to Build Proposed Cell Tower
by Doug Robinson
Words from a Windham resident stating “cancer
stick,” “ugly,” “eye-sore,” “unnecessary,” “dictated by greed,” “decisions are being dictated by bottom financial lines,” and “misrepresentation from A-team lawyers” were the collective speeches offered by more than two dozen residents during the Windham Zoning Board of Adjustment’s (ZBA) public hearing regarding the proposed construction of a Verizon cell tower on residential land. And when the night’s end came, the man, who had been sitting alone in the corner, wearing shiny brown shoes and a matching brown suit, and who had been crouching over a legal pad for more than three hours, finally “cried uncle.” Simply stated, he said, “We withdraw our application.” He had been verbally knocked out by Windham’s residents. The upper parking lot to the Windham High School was completely full, and cars had to be ushered to the adjacent parking lot as the hearing had been moved from Town Hall to the high school in an effort to accommodate all those who wished to speak. Every speaker at the public hearing spoke in opposition of the construction of the tower. Residents, individually and collectively, spoke of Windham’s quality of life, the nature of the
land, and the detriment to the community that would result, should the construction of the 150- foot tower be approved. Cellco Partners, (d.b.a. Verizon Wireless) would be seeking a variance to receive permission from the ZBA to erect a proposed 150-foot monopole cell tower, including a dozen 4- by 8-foot panels attached on land zoned as residential. A petition against the cell tower had received 945 signatures, 849 of which were from Windham residents. The central core to Cellco’s (Verizon) argument
Verizon’s cell coverage, as seen on their Website, showing no gap in coverage of the Windham area, is designated by the color red
was that Windham had a “gap” in coverage and the construction of a fourth tower in Windham would resolve the issue. However, most speakers who approached the microphone stated that they were Verizon users, and they had not had a dropped call nor had they ever had a problem with the service with Verizon in Windham. Several speakers stated that they had switched to Verizon, as Verizon’s coverage was better than AT&T and other cell providers. “They have not demonstrated that there gap in coverage,” stated David Dubé,
brother to Joel Dubé, during his testimony. Bob Leonard, Windham, quoting from
Windham’s Website, said, ”The Town of Windham is a thriving community located in the southern
region of the State of New Hampshire in Rockingham County. With a current population of approximately 15,000, the town offers excellent educational, recreational, and business opportunities. Local access to I-93 and other major routes provide ease in commuting to Boston, Manchester Airport, the
Seacoast, and the White Mountains. As a community, Windham consistently maintains its rural, open character with
HUDSON, NH 03051
PERMIT NO. 33 Postal Customer
Above: Joel Dubé (right) looks on as
a Windham resident offers testimony, while the Cellco attorney continues to write while sitting in the rear
large areas of open space and conservation land throughout; while welcoming influxes of economic development. Windham has often been referred to as “The
Jewel of Southern New Hampshire.” In all, Windham is an ideal place to raise a family, start a business, or just
stop to visit.” Like most battered and bruised
fighters who do not know when to retire, Cellco’s Partners stated that they would be re-filing their petition to build a tower in Windham within the next 30 days.
Left: Te signed petition from 849 Windham residents was presented to the ZBA
Daisy Troop Cleans Park
Controversy Brews Over Proposed Restructuring
by Barbara O’Brien
Stating that she is trying to be
proactive, Windham’s Community Development Director, Laura Scott, told selectmen, “There is a lot of work for the current staffing,” and she feels that the level of achievement required to get the job done “is unsustainable as the activity continues to increase.” “Right now, we’re being
reactive instead of proactive,” Scott said. “There’s just not enough time in the day for everything.” Not everyone was happy,
however, with Scott’s proposed changes, which include decreasing the number of hours available for the department’s secretarial position, as well as totally eliminating the job of the part-time building inspector. Scott has been on the job in
submitted by Angela Ashegh
Girl Scout Daisy Troop 10655 cleaned up Griffin Park in Windham this past Saturday, April 17. Despite the rain and cold weather, the troop did a great job tackling the trash to make Mother Earth a better, cleaner place to live. From left to right are: Julia LeBlanc, Makalya Panich, Abby and Audrey Ashegh, and Kaitlyn Doyle.
Selectmen Approve New Fees for Certain Permits
by Barbara O’Brien
Following a public hearing on April 12,
Windham Selectmen approved amending certain fees charged for permits issued by the town’s Community Development Department.
Community Development Director Laura Scott proposed the fees that were recently approved. They involve services provided by the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Board of Health, sign permits, radio towers, blasting, driveways, and Sunday Licenses. Selectmen approved implementing the new fee schedule by a vote of 4 to 0. Voting in favor of the amended fees were Chairman Charles McMahon, Vice Chairman Bruce Breton, Roger Hohenberger, and Ross McLeod. Selectman Galen Stearns was not in attendance at the time the vote was taken. The fees were approved with the stipulation that Scott report back to selectmen at the end of the year in regard to a cost analysis, comparing the level of the fees to the town’s cost in providing the services.
Resident Tom Case spoke out against some of the new fees, saying that he considered them to be “double-dipping,” and, in some cases, “triple-dipping.” Case said applicants already have to pay the usual sub-division fees, as well as possibly even site plan review fees, not to mention paying for the cost of certain legal notices, as well. “The fees should be commiserate with the costs incurred,” Case said. Scott responded that the extra fee is for obtaining a special permit, one for which staff members need to perform another level of review. The fees listed for the Planning Board all
involve the new Cobbetts Pond Water Shed Protection Ordinance and did not exist prior to their implementation earlier this month. Selectman Hohenberger recommended that fees collected for engineering escrow accounts be gotten in advance. “It will make the process move more seamlessly,” Hohenberger said. The engineering escrow cost assigned to a change of use or minor site
continued to page 6- New Fees
Windham for just about a year. “There’s been a lot of flux in the department” during that time, she said. When Scott was first hired, it was as the director of the Planning Department. She later applied for and was given the job of community development director—a new position in the Town of Windham.
Under the current structure,
the community development director is a full-time position, as are the community planner/ code enforcement officer and the building inspector/health officer. The departmental secretary also works a 40-hour week. The planning administrative assistant works on a part-time basis, as do the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) and Conservation Commission administrative assistants. There are presently seven employees working within the Community Development Department.
As for the proposed
restructuring of the Community Development Department, there would still be seven employees, but the part-time building inspector would be eliminated, the department secretarial position would be reduced from 40 to 20 hours per week, certain duties would be reallocated among those positions remaining, and a full-time code enforcement/ZBA administrator would be added to the roster.
Scott said that the proposed restructuring “should allow” the department to remain within the existing budget for the current year.
Following Scott’s presentation to the selectmen, Municipal Employee Union Representative Laura Cryts took exception with Scott’s proposal to reduce the number of hours for the departmental secretary. Cryts said that the current employee who works as the secretary has held that job for the past 22 years and provides excellent customer service. Cryts also said she feels that “the position warrants full- time, especially in a town that is growing as fast as Windham.” Ginny Gray, the person who currently works on a full-time basis as the departmental secretary, also spoke to selectmen. Gray worked on a part-time basis in that capacity for 12 years, but has been employed full-time for the past 10 years. “Twenty hours is not enough,” Gray said. “There will still be the same amount of work to be done, but only half the amount of time to do it.“ Gray, who was out for a period of time on disability in 2008, said the burden for her job wound up falling on other employees, which made it difficult for them to keep up with their own jobs.
continued to page 6- Restructuring
Town Clerk Expands Services
by Barbara O’Brien
Nicole Merrill has been
Windham’s Town Clerk for just over a year now, having been elected to the position in March 2009. Since her election, Merrill has made a number of changes, which are intended to enhance customer service to residents. During a workshop with selectmen on April 5, Merrill talked of her efforts to improve communication, both with other departments and the public. One thing that she especially wants to do is to make a “Suggestion Box” available on the town’s Website. She also emphasized that she is working hard to make sure any information that becomes available is easily accessible and up-to-date for the public. “It’s always necessary to be on the up and up” when it comes to dealing with the public, Merrill said.
Merrill is now offering expanded hours at the Town Clerk’s Office. In addition to the regular daytime hours, the Town Clerk is now open from 9 a.m. until noon on the last Saturday of each month. The office will now be open Monday evenings year-round. Previously, the Town Clerk’s Office was closed on Mondays during summer months. This convenience is especially important for those who have July and August birthdays and need to register their vehicles, she said. As for the expanded use
of technology, E-Reg is now available in Windham, allowing residents to register their vehicles online rather than having to come into Town Hall to accomplish the annual chore. And for those considering the purchase of a new vehicle, estimates of the cost of
registering such vehicles is also now available through E-Reg, which is connected to the State Department of Motor Vehicles in Concord. E-Reg can be accessed by going to the town’s Website at www.windhamnh.com. Merrill also has plans of establishing a “retention committee” later this year, the purpose of which will be to assure proper record-keeping, as well as the shredding of certain documents.
In order to save the town some money on postage, Merrill has been utilizing e-mail whenever possible, such as for reminding residents of the need to renew dog registrations. Merrill said she hopes to save more money on mailings in the future as the e- mail database expands.
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staff photos by Doug Robinson
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