Saturday October 13, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS -- A decision has been rendered.

The Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees selected the Masonic Temple at 61 Westminster St. as the location of a public vote on numerous proposed changes to the village charter, Trustee Colin James said.

The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 4, and polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

James said the trustees initially planned to have the polling location at Bellows Falls Fire/Police facility or the Rockingham Recreation Center. Though voting usually takes place at the Masonic Temple, members of the board know it closes during the winter and is not rented out during that time. But when they learned it won’t close for the season until after Dec. 4, they decided to hold the vote at the normal spot.

James recommended the Masonic Temple because it is where general elections are always held.

Rockingham Assistant Town Clerk Brenda Doherty previously told the Reformer two public hearings are required before changes to a charter can be voted upon. The public hearings enable residents to express concerns and ask questions about the revision committee’s proposed edits.

The two public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 23, and Wednesday, Nov. 7. Each will be held in the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre and begin at 6:30 p.m.

Doherty said that state law requires the first of the two obligatory hearings to be held no fewer than 30 days before the vote is slated to take place.


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There is no deadline for the second hearing but no changes to the wording of the proposed amendments can be made within 20 days of the vote, she said.

The initial public hearing was held on Sept. 4. The second was scheduled for Wednesday and the voting day was set for Tuesday, Oct. 4. But more time was requested at a previous trustees meeting to allow residents to read through the suggested changes put forth by the charter revisions committee, led by Trustee Deborah Wright.

Wright said she and the other members of the committee -- Cathy Bergmann and Donna Harty -- checked with Village Attorney Ray Massucco to make sure they had taken all the proper legal steps in setting the dates.

She said village residents will have to vote on the entire document and will not be able to pick and choose which amendments they wish to approve.

The proposed changes include an update on statutory expenses, clarification with respect to acquisition of interests in real estate, expansion on the restrictions on the use of Minard’s Pond and increases in fines for any violation of the restrictions.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.