Pelham - Windham News 8 - March 4, 2011
Five Candidates Seek Votes for Planning Board
by Barbara O’Brien This year’s ballot for the Town of
Windham includes five candidates for three vacant seats on the Planning Board. Up for grabs this March are two three-year positions and one one- year slot.
Running for the two three-year seats are Margaret McKee Crisler, Bruce Breton, and Jonathan Sycamore. Hoping to secure the one-year slot are Bruce Richardson and Carolyn Webber. Four of the candidates took time to talk about themselves and their goals during the annual Windham Woman’s Club Candidates Night. This was the 15th year that the Woman’s Club offered candidates this opportunity. Only Bruce Breton did not attend the forum, saying that he had a prior commitment that same evening. Jonathan Sycamore Jonathan Sycamore is a first-time candidate for Planning Board. He says he “is a realist who knows Windham has to expand to meet the needs of residents.” Sycamore said he shops locally wherever and whenever possible. “These are exciting times for
Windham,” Sycamore said. “Growth is coming; change is coming.” Much of that change relates to the changes likely to occur as the result of the widening of Interstate Route 93. “How to manage this growth is the issue,” Sycamore said.
Sycamore has a history of working in public finance and commercial lending. He has also been employed by a public utility company in Massachusetts. Presently, he serves as an alternate on the Windham Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). He said he would resign from the ZBA if elected to the Windham Planning Board. Margaret McKee Crisler Margaret Crisler has lived in
Windham for the past 24 years. She is a former New Hampshire State Representative and served three terms (1997-2008) as a Windham Selectman. “The housing boom in Windham was just beginning” when Crisler and her family relocated to Windham. “Now,
we find ourselves yet again at a crossroads,” she said. Commenting that Windham is an
attractive area for commercial growth, Crisler said, “We must make sure that residential property values are not compromised.”
Crisler earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and completed graduate work in Chemistry. “I have always been an outspoken advocate for protecting water quality,” she said. “As a former selectman and State Rep, I know that being elected to the Planning Board will mean long hours,” Crisler said. “And I am ready to make that commitment. I’m ready to fight to keep sprawl out of Windham and taxes down. And I will be accessible to all residents.” Carolyn Webber Carolyn Webber is seeking a one-
year term on the Planning Board. Now retired, Webber worked, for 30 years, in a supervisory position for a microbiology lab. She has served on various boards and committees in Windham since the 1980s. She is a former member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment and served, previously, as chairman of the Planning Board. She is also a former New Hampshire State Representative. Webber said she believes the next big issue for the Planning Board is rezoning. “I want to be sure residents are well-represented during this task,” Webber said. She also wants to maintain the delicate balance between all entities involved (commercial, residential, conservation, and big business).
Bruce Richardson Bruce Richardson has lived in
Windham for the past 25 years. He owns an area auto business. Currently, he is serving in an appointed position on the Planning Board. “I have seen Windham grow from a small town to a bustling community,” Richardson said. Richardson said he likes serving on the Planning Board and enjoys the process and research involved in performing that job. He said he has no personal agenda and considers himself
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to be open-minded. “My only criteria is deciding what is best for Windham,” Richardson said. “I want to make sure any development is done right.” Questions and Answers How would you make the Planning Board process more open to residents? • Jonathan Sycamore said he would make preliminary drafts of pending issues available to the public in advance.
• Margaret Crisler said the Planning Board process relating to revisions and other changes should start earlier in the year in order to avoid the traditional end-of-the-year rush. • Carolyn Webber said that any public business should not be done late at night, but be put first on the agenda. • Bruce Richardson said he believes Planning Board members are already being proactive in the planning process. Board members are already making plans for the coming year, even prior to the upcoming election, he said. Richardson also commented that, sadly, there isn’t much public participation at most meetings.
Are you for or against rezoning Route 28 to make more properties commercial?
• Margaret Crisler answered simply, “No, I’m not.” • Carolyn Webber said she is reserving judgment. There are a lot of wetlands in that area, she said. • Bruce Richardson said the rezoning proposal is due to a citizen’s petition and not Planning Board action. Route 28 was “the road” before there was a Route 93, Richardson said, adding that he thinks the property owners who submitted the petition “should have what they want.” • Jonathan Sycamore said he would have to consider all environmental concerns before reaching a decision.
What would be your top priority for future workshops? • Carolyn Webber said it would be rezoning issues. • Bruce Richardson answered that it should be sub-division regulations. • Jonathan Sycamore said he would want to see a workshop on the preferred types of businesses to establish in Windham. • Margaret Crisler said she feels
more emphasis needs to be placed on zoning and sub-division regulations, as well as additional work on the watershed protection ordinance.
What are your business affiliations and how do you benefit from them? • Bruce Richardson said he is a businessman by profession, but has no local affiliations. • Jonathan Sycamore said his only interest is that he is a homeowner. • Carolyn Webber said she has no agenda in seeking office other than her love of Windham.
• Margaret Crisler said she has no ties to business entities or any other such group.
What changes would you make as a Planning Board member and why? • Margaret Crisler said she would work toward reviewing and, ultimately, strengthening lighting regulations in Windham. • Jonathan Sycamore said he would work to eliminate fast food drive-thrus from local establishments. “I don’t want Exit 3 to look like every other exit off the highway,” he said. • Carolyn Webber said she would want to undertake more design review. “There are some pretty ugly buildings here in town,” she said. • Bruce Richardson said he had nothing specific in mind as to changes to be made, but would want to continue what’s already been started. “We need to deal with the properties in town that don’t fit the zone they’re in,” he said.
How do you feel about a sitting selectman running for Planning Board? • Carolyn Webber said she believes it could be a “pretty big problem” if (Selectman Bruce Breton) is elected to the Planning Board. • Bruce Richardson said he feels it’s a legal question and that he is not qualified to comment on the legality. “I think it’s all a bunch of noise about nothing,” he said. • Jonathan Sycamore said he is in favor of diversity on the various boards in town. “There are a lot of qualified people in Windham,” he said. “I think it’s better keeping the boards separate.” • Margaret Crisler said it wouldn’t be a good idea to have any other board
dominating the Planning Board by having more than one member on it. “It’s quite a conundrum,” she said. “We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”
Are you in favor of impact fees and/or exactions? • “They do work,” Bruce Richardson said, adding that they are already in place for schools, safety requirements, and recreational needs. “They do help to offset some costs,” he said. • Jonathan Sycamore said he is in favor of impact fees and exactions on developers. “They should be sufficient to counteract costs,” he said. • Margaret Crisler said she is “very definitely in favor of appropriate fees.” • Carolyn Webber said she is in favor of both concepts, but also feels current regulations need to be reviewed.
Are you in favor of the sewer feasibility study warrant article? • Jonathan Sycamore said he believes it makes sense to take the next step in the study, but he is concerned about the impact that a sewer system in Windham could have on the water table.
• Margaret Crisler said $20,000 has already been spent on studying the issue and she doesn’t feel the town got its money’s worth. “We really need to address watershed issues first,” she replied. • Carolyn Webber said she feels that the motive for wanting a sewer system in portions of Windham is to promote commercial development, not to protect Cobbetts Pond or Canobie Lake.
• Bruce Richardson said, “This is all about protecting Canobie and Cobbetts Pond,” adding that bodies of water are the most valuable resource anyone can have. “A lot of money has been spent, but it was money well spent,” he said. “It makes perfect sense to me” to continue with the next phase of the study.
Get Out and Vote! Registered
Windham voters can have their say on which of these candidates will be elected, as well as numerous other issues on Tuesday, March 8. Polls will be located at Windham High School and will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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