Bow voters reject noise ordinance, approves all other warrant articles

Bow residents raise their voting cards to pass warrant article five at the town meeting at the auditorium of the high school on Wednesday night, March 13, 2024.

Bow residents raise their voting cards to pass warrant article five at the town meeting at the auditorium of the high school on Wednesday night, March 13, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff


Monitor staff

Published: 03-14-2024 10:05 AM

Modified: 03-14-2024 10:20 AM

Daniel Snodgrass found it downright absurd that a quaint town like Bow would even entertain the idea of implementing a noise ordinance.

The proposed noise ordinance sought to tackle the issue of disruptive early morning construction activity sounds by placing restrictions on noise levels between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am. However, its language was overly broad, resulting in fines for any noise perceived as bothersome, regardless of its nature.

For residents like Snodgrass, who enjoy shooting on their properties safely away from others, if someone unreasonably perceives it as a nuisance, it could pose difficulties.

“A noise ordinance in a rural setting? Come on. It’s silly,” said Snodgrass, echoing the sentiments of many residents at the town meeting. “If you put something like this on the books you’re going to have people abuse the crap out of it.”

To the relief of many residents, the noise ordinance failed at Bow’s town meeting, making it the only one among 31 warrant articles to meet such a fate.

The operating budget of $11.4 million, down from $12 million the previous year, was approved with no public comment. The reduced budget came after the town completed its last settlement payment for overtaxing the Merrimack Station power station.

The town-portion tax rate will be $6.57, a 36-cent decrease, which is $108 less annually on a $300,000 home.

Residents of Bow approved warrant articles allowing the select board to negotiate with Kearsarge Solar LLC for leasing land at Falcon Way’s capped landfill and portions of Allen Way’s gravel pit for solar array installation, but only after voicing their concerns.

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Installing solar arrays on a capped landfill, which cannot be utilized for any other purposes, made sense for Judson Malone, unlike the flat land surrounding the gravel pit, which could serve various functions such as a ball field.

“I think utilizing a flat potentially usable piece of land for tying it up for 30 years for a solar panel array of unknown town benefit is shortsighted,” said Malone.“I have four kids they all play sports and I would like more fields.”

However, select board member Angela Brennan noted that continued excavation near the gravel pit would endanger the aquifer, making it unsuitable for alternative uses.

“It has been considered in the past and determined that it would not be an adequate site despite it being nice and flat,” Brennan said of the possibility of ball fields there.

Ryan Fontaine, who shoots in the pit, was afraid that people might lose access to the recreational space if a solar array was installed.

“You just can’t exclude some of the people that use the pit because you don’t want them. There’s no place for that. It’s for everybody in the town,” said Fontaine.

The majority of articles sailed through the town meeting with little contention. However, two articles related to the Tax Increment Finance District spurred debate and passed with amendments. These amendments required that the district would retire simultaneously with the bond's retirement date.

Sandy Crystall was named the Citizen of the Year by the Bow Men’s Club for efforts in environmental conservation and protection. Crystall has served on the conservation commission for 15 years.

“Their outward passion for the natural resources of Bow is contagious and their knowledge is critical to the commercial and residential development of Bow while keeping in mind the land and its natural inhabitants,” said Greg Cartier, president of the men’s club before presenting Crystall with the award.