CHESTER – Nest week Chester holds its Town Meeting, where officers will be chosen for the coming terms and decisions will be made on the budget and a host of other warrant articles. Secret ballot voting will take place on Tuesday, May 14, at the multipurpose room, with polls open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. At that time, officers will be chosen and several zoning amendments decided on.
Then on Saturday, May 18, Town Meeting takes place with public discussion and voting on the rest of the warrant at the multipurpose room starting at 9 a.m. A couple of big ticket items will be decided, some of which will impact Chester for years to come.
Article 1 elects officers on May 14; a full list of open positions is given below.
Articles 2 through 4 are zoning amendments put forth by the planning board, to be decided May 14.
Article 2 would amend the Limited Commercial/ Light Industrial Zone to prohibit residential housing of any type.
Article 3 would amend Article 16, Groundwater Protection, to bring it in line with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services requirements and Best Management Practices.
Article 4 addresses recent federal legislation requiring local governments to comply with changes to the Federal Telecommunications Act regarding the modification of any existing wireless tower or base station.
At Town Meeting May 18, voters will decide on article 5, whether to purchase the Chester College of New England property. Seventy acres are up for sale in the heart of Chester and there has been a large public outcry to purchase the land and thus direct the destiny of what many consider the village center. The selectmen have put together an article to purchase the property with a $1.8 million bond, but numbers, terms and acreage can all be amended.
A presentation on the property is set to take place during Town Meeting to better inform voters.
Article 6 will ask voters to consider funding the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) with an eye to road construction. This article asks to raise $350,000, with $150,000 of that to come from the unreserved fund balance. The remaining $200,000 would be raised through taxation.
Article 7 will ask for $200,000 for asphalt for roadwork.
Article 8 will ask the town to approve an assistant library director position as requested by the Chester Public Library Trustees.
Article 9 will ask for $57,000 for improvements to the transfer station roof.
Article 10 is to approve a budget. The gross amount totals $3,846,855.
Articles 11, 12 and 13 are highway department articles and will ask respectively for a dump truck, loader and money to build two additional buildings at the salt shed. Town leaders have argued that the articles begin leading the way to creating more of a public works department in Chester.
Article 14 asks for $85,000 for the Winter Road Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund.
Article 15 will ask for $50,000 to replace the roof on the multipurpose room.
Article 16 will ask to appropriate $45,500 to purchase a skid steer tractor for the transfer station.
Article 17 will ask for $40,250 for a new police cruiser, $20,250 of that amount to come from a capital reserve fund.
Article 18 will seek $10,000 for the Building Improvement and Capital Reserve Maintenance Fund.
Article 19 will seek $15,000 for the town’s next revaluation.
Article 20 will seek to set up a fund whereby the sale of cemetery lots and other revenue sources can be collected, to later pay for historic cemetery upkeep.
Article 21 will seek $10,000 to begin work on a memorial in the front of Stevens Memorial Hall to commemorate important Chester citizens.
Article 22 will seek $5,000 to prepare for the town’s 300th anniversary in 2022.
Article 23 will ask for funding for Public Access Community Television.
Articles 24 through 26 will seek to close capital reserve funds no longer required by the town.
Article 27 is to hear reports.
Article 28 will be to consider any other business that might come before the meeting.
Open positions are as follows, with two contested races this year. Both incumbent Mike Weider and former selectman Joe Castricone are seeking a single three-year selectman seat. For road agent, both incumbent Mike Oleson and newcomer John Sacco are running.
Three budget committee seats are open, one single-year, one two-year and one three-year seat. Two seats have no candidates, while incumbent Ephraim Dobbins seeks the three-year term. Two trustees of the trust fund seats are open but no one has signed up. One three-year term library trustee position is open, sought by incumbent Renee Mallett.
One five-year term Great Hill Cemetery Trusteeship is open sought by Donald Brown. A three-year term Village Cemetery Trusteeship is sought by incumbent Geoff Barnett. A five-year seat on the Wilcomb Townsend Trust is sought by incumbent Cynthia Tunberg. Also this year the Chester School District will hold its elections concurrently with the town. Two school board positions are open.
Valerie Weider is seeking reelection and newcomer Sarah Ungaro is seeking Catherine Treanor’s seat. Treanor did not seek reelection because of family obligations. Because of the changeover from SB2 government this year, the school district elections will now be held concurrently with the town.