Hampton NH Town Meeting 2023: Top Issues Voters Face


HAMPTON – A project to restore a collapsing levee in Bicentennial Park, funding the hiring of an architect to plan for a community center, and zoning amendments to pave the way for massive development off Liberty Lane.

These are just a few of the issues that will be decided by Hampton voters at this year’s annual town meeting. On Saturday, February 4 at 8:30 am, the Hampton Academy in the Hamptons will host the first half of the town meeting, known as the deliberation session.

The ballot will include 36 warrant items, including the city’s proposed operating budget of just over $35.5 million, nearly $4.3 million more than the city’s 2022 budget. The increase is driven by new positions approved at last year’s town meeting, contractual commitments, and increased spending on gas, utilities, pensions and insurance. If the city budget is rejected, a default budget of just under $33.2 million will take effect.

City and school districts hold deliberative meetings if they pass Senate Bill 2. This is similar to the traditional New England city meeting, with the only difference being that the actual yes or no is done out of sight and in the voting booth in March. fourteen.

What goes into the ballot is determined by what happens at the deliberative meeting. In the meeting, you as Hamptons can discuss, amend the wording of the article (with the exception of zoning amendments and as long as it doesn’t change intent) and, yes, potentially even “nullify” the money order article. Because the amount of the money-related warrant item can be reduced to $0, residents in deliberative meetings can effectively vote against a spending request before it reaches a majority of voters at the polls.

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Here’s a look at the top articles on voting warrants:

Massive development off Liberty Lane depends on Hampton voters

The real estate investment firm plans to build 400 apartments, 34 townhouses and commercial retail space on 104 acres near Liberty Lane. However, in order to move forward with the project, they will need the approval of the city assembly.

Through Article 8, voters are being asked to create an overlay zoning area to expand the allowable uses of property near Interstate 95.

The property is currently zoned for industrial and adult use only. The proposed overlay area would allow housing, retail, restaurants, business and professional offices and more to be built there, subject to approval of the site plan by the Planning Board.

What will this mean for the Hamptons?Project to add 400 apartments, 34 townhouses and shops.

In October, Kane submitted to the Planning Board a concept plan for the property, consisting of four 100-unit apartment buildings, 34 townhouses, a clubhouse with a pool, and 205,000 square feet of “commercial flexible space” that will include a restaurant.” public amenities, including walking paths, bike paths and a dog park, which Kane says will be open to the public.

$3 million bond to repair a 200 year old dam

The 200-year-old dam repair project, which has been in development for several years, will finally be presented to voters for the second time, but it will cost more.

City officials are asking voters at the March city meeting to approve a $3 million bond (Section 8) to repair the collapsing wall. The project was rejected by voters in 2017 when it would have cost $2 million.

City manager Jamie Sullivan told the budget committee last month that the money would be used to repair a 300-foot dam that the city owns.

“We had a storm a couple of years ago and engineers came to us and (they) pointed out to us that there was a serious problem with the wall not being stable,” he said. “Then we took steps to establish the article with the warrant, and it failed. We then did mitigation work by laying down a bunch of riprap… It looks like it does what it needs to, but it needs to be repaired.”

The total cost of the project with interest will be $5.2 million over 25 years. If the project is approved, the work is scheduled to be completed in the autumn.

Both the elected officials and the Budget Committee recommend that voters approve the project.

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The drainage project aims to mitigate the effects of flooding on North Beach.

Residents who live on Kings Highway and in the Green Street, Gentian Road and Meadow Pond Road areas of North Beach have complained about flooding for years due to lack of drainage and tides.

The Chosen Ones are asking voters to approve at the March city meeting a $2.8 million project to mitigate flooding in the area at no additional cost to the taxpayer. Article 12 will be funded by a $2 million grant and the use of $800,000 from the city’s unallocated balance of funds.

“The goal of the project is to help reduce the flooding that occurs in the area,” said Public Works Director Jennifer Perry. “Now the water that enters the drainage system from the sky, enters the roadway (and) cannot get out. So she just sits there. The outlets are flooded and there is nowhere for it to drain.”

Hale said the project would create a drainage system that would “take it out of Meadow Pond and out to the other side of Winnacannet Road.”

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This project is a recommendation made in a 2018 study looking at how the city can reduce flooding in the area as well as Hampton Beach. Both the elected officials and the Budget Committee recommend that voters approve the project.

Hampton police want to equip officers with body cameras

Hampton Police are planning to equip all of their officers with body cameras.

Two articles with warrants to be presented at the March Hampton City Meeting demanding $404,283 funding over five years for equipment and training of body cameras and dash cams, and the hiring of a second lieutenant for $134,175 per year to oversee implementation and maintenance systems. .

Both Articles 17 and 18 must be approved for the project to proceed.

“We are taking a neutral approach to this; we understand that this is a lot of money,” said Hampton Police Chief Alex Reno. “So we’re looking for feedback from the public.”

Reno said the department received a grant to cover the costs of up to $50,000.

Several police departments in the state currently use body cameras, including Exeter, Stratham, Manchester, Dover and the New Hampshire State Police. The use of body cameras for officers was a recommendation by the New Hampshire Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency in 2020.

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Reno said the department has been discussing body cameras for several years, and the warrant article aims to get ahead of any future state mandate. He said the cameras can meet the need for more transparency in law enforcement, and research has shown that they also protect officers from unfounded complaints 90% of the time.

The Department plans to hold an information meeting on the two warrant articles at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, February 7, at the Hampton Police Department.

Voters recommend that voters accept both articles. The Budget Committee does not recommend equipment purchases as the vote is 4 to 4. They recommend voters reject the new position by 5 to 3.

Plans for the Hampton Community Center

Lane’s library and recreation department wants to move ahead with plans for the future community center.

Voters will be asked to approve $165,945 at the March city meeting to hire an architect to create the final concept design and budget for building what they call the Hampton Hub.

“What we hope to do with this warrant article in 2023 is actually deepening… Will it have a pickleball court? Will it have a footpath? Is there a kitchen All these questions,” said library director Amanda Reynolds Cooper. “We want to evaluate potential sites and we want to have an idea of ​​what this building could be. We would like to have a clear idea of ​​how much it will cost.”

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City Manager Jamie Sullivan said the intention is to apply for grants to help offset the costs.

The elected unanimously recommend that voters approve the project, while the Budget Committee offers no recommendation as it was a 4 to 4 vote split.

Proposed zoning amendment could affect future development

The City Planning Board is sponsoring a zoning amendment (Section 5) that will update the City’s Aquifer Protection Ordinance and expand its area from 1,065 acres to 3,429 acres.

The Ordinance will be renamed the Groundwater Protection Ordinance and it will be expanded to protect existing and future drinking water systems.

It will include new site design standards. Under the proposed regulation, the maximum waterproof coverage for commercial properties will be reduced to 40% (currently 60%). However, the maximum coverage may exceed 40% (but not more than 75%) with the approval of the Planning Board, if certain project activities aimed at groundwater protection are included.

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For residential lots, the maximum impervious cover will remain at 25%, but for residential lots smaller than ½ acre, the maximum may be exceeded (but no more than 40%) if established drainage standards are met.

The regulation clarifies what is permitted (all current uses are permitted), requires further consideration for potential risk uses (commercial use, multi-family use, excavation), and encourages the involvement of the Conservation Commission.

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