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Henniker voters balance history, preservation, safety at town meeting

  • The sign in front of Henniker Community School. Monitor file



Monitor staff
Thursday, March 15, 2018

Three football fields’ worth of winding dirt road produced an hour’s discussion last year about how to balance town history, the environment and road safety, and that road may lead to similar debate this year as the issue is put before Henniker voters once again.

Hot topic: A homeowner’s request to shift 900 feet of dirt road dominated last year’s town meeting before being tabled, and it will come up again this year.

Walter and Katherine Pollard want to shift the road that runs between their house and garage at 672 Quaker St., an S-curve that is often icy in winter and was described as dangerous at last year’s meeting. The complication is that shifting Quaker Street would intrude on the adjoining conservation easement, leading to a potential conflict between preserving town history and assuring the safety of its residents.

Budget: The proposed operating budget is $5.09 million, an increase of $109,000 or 2.1 percent over last year’s approved budget. Major increases are in the police, roads and town office budgets, with the major decreases in fire/rescue and solid waste budgets.

If the budget and all warrant articles pass, the tax rate would increase by an estimated 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, equal to an annual increase of $57 in the tax bill of a home assessed at $300,000.

Noteworthy articles: Three petition warrant articles seek to create a municipal budget committee, which would replace the select board as the body that draws up and proposes budgets for town meeting to consider. If the articles pass, the committee’s members would be appointed this year by the moderator and in subsequent years would be elected by town residents.

The planning board supports a proposal to allow smaller building lots downtown not connected to town water and sewer, as long as they have room for septic and a well. The board says the proposed change in the zoning amendment for what are known as the RV and CV zones is consistent with the master plan, its says, because “one-acre lots are in keeping with the character of downtown neighborhoods.”

Water Commissioners want to install new pipe and cross connections on Hall Avenue, between Western Avenue and Prospect Street, as part of the town’s installation of sidewalks. The move would enlarge the pipe from 6 inches to 10 inches in diameter. The work would cost about $200,000, which would be recouped from water bills, adding approximately 38 cents per 1,000 gallons of usage per year.

Voters will consider whether to allow keno, the lottery game, to be played in bars and restaurants. Seven cities, the closest being Franklin, have already voted to allow the game, and many towns are weighing the issue this week.

When and where: The town meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Henniker Community School.