Chichester: Flag lighting rule makes a comeback

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hot topic: Last year, Chichester residents decided to exempt “the illumination of federal, state, local and military service flags” from the otherwise strict lighting regulations. This meant the giant American flag installed on Route 4 by Camping World could be lit at night without violating regulations against light pollution. But some people have said it violates the Constitution by giving special privileges to a certain set of favored flags.

An article that will be decided Saturday at the ballot box would remove the language about patriotic flags and extend the exception more broadly to all flags “except ones that serve as commercial advertising.”

Resident Kate Rafferty Hall wrote in a letter to the Suncook Valley Sun’s editor that the “primary reason” behind the amendment was to correct the constitutionality question. But she worried this would open the door for even more light pollution. “A straightforward solution to the problem with a hypothetical constitutional challenge would be to remove the exception for lighting of flags,” she said.

Budget: The proposed operating budget is $2.14 million, up $12,327 or 0.58 percent from last year.

If all the warrant articles are approved, the town’s portion of the tax rate would decrease 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which is $134 on a $200,000 home, Town Administrator Jodi Pinard said.

Noteworthy articles: The town library recently put on a 16-by-24-foot addition, and with the approval of voters Saturday, it could add a new parking lot, too. Article 10 asks to raise $24,000 through taxation (for a tax rate impact of 9 cents per $1,000 valuation) to reconstruct and repave the parking lot. Library Trustee Lucille Noel said the current lot is falling apart and stormwater runoff is degrading recently paved Main Street. The article would allow for a complete reconstruction, with better drainage, new parking spaces and painted lines. “It’s a big deal for us,” Noel said.

When and where: The town meeting will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at Chichester Central School. Ballot voting will be Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Grange Hall.