SWANZEY CENTER — Among the measures up for consideration this town meeting season are a $3 million bond for road repairs, changes to the town zoning code and money to design a new fire station.
Swanzey’s deliberative session, where the proposals can be discussed and amended, is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Monadnock Regional Middle/High School auditorium. Voters will have their final say at the ballot box on March 12.
Operating budget: The town’s proposed operating budget is $6,452,435, up $372,740, or 6.13 percent, from the $6,079,695 budget voters approved last March. Should voters reject that figure at the polls, a default budget of $6,122,397 would take effect.
Road repairs: One of this year’s big-ticket items is a proposal for a $3 million bond to rebuild several town roads. The 20-year bond would be issued in installments, according to a presentation shown at the town’s bond hearing on Jan. 9. The article on the town’s warrant would authorize the bond and raise $50,000 for the first year’s payment.
Over the next six years, town officials hope to use the bond and funds from the road reconstruction expendable trust fund to rebuild Christian Hill, East Shore, Eaton, Fox Run, Marcy Hill, Sugar Hill and Talbot Hill roads; Davis, Holbrook and Woodale avenues; and North Winchester, Pine, South Winchester and Spring streets, according to the presentation.
Roads classified as poor or very poor would be reconstructed with methods that include reclaiming asphalt, adding gravel, removing trees and improving drainage, according to the presentation.
The article requires a three-fifths majority for approval.
A new fire station: Voters will also be asked to raise $25,000 for costs to design and plan a fire station on town-owned land at 321 Old Homestead Highway. This article would withdraw an additional $25,000 from the fire stations capital reserve fund for the project.
The fund was created last March when voters approved two intertwining articles to shift $361,000 from a fund that was used for planning the construction of a new fire station to a new, more flexible fund that can be used for maintaining the town’s existing fire stations or planning for future stations.
The new station would replace the Swanzey Fire Department’s second station, which is now housed in the basement of town hall, according to Michael Branley, Swanzey’s town administrator.
Zoning changes: Eleven amendments to the town’s zoning code are up for consideration, the most significant of which relate to streamlining the town’s sign permitting process and making changes to home occupation regulations.
If voters sign off on the amendments, which are all rolled into one warrant article, sign permits could be approved by the town’s code enforcement officer provided they meet existing sign ordinance criteria, rather than being required to go before the planning board for approval.
The proposed changes would also add a second tier to the home occupation zoning ordinance, distinguishing home occupations from home-based businesses, according to Matthew Bachler, director of planning and economic development.
Under the new code, low-impact activities such as running a web design business, keeping a home office or working as an artist out of a residence would be considered home occupations and would not require a permit from the town planning board.
The code would define home-based businesses as higher-impact activities, such as hairdressing, tutoring, woodworking or keeping a law or engineering office in a residence. Those uses would require approval by the planning board, as all home occupations currently do.
Replacing a bridge: Residents will be asked to approve $750,000 for the replacement of the Rabbit Hollow Road Bridge over Perry Brook. That bridge, which is owned by the town, has critical deficiencies and limited loading capacity, the warrant article notes. Eighty percent of the cost — $600,000 — would be reimbursed through N.H. Department of Transportation bridge aid, and $150,000 would be reimbursed from the town’s capital reserve fund for town bridges other than covered bridges.
Town savings accounts: Two articles would appropriate a total of $659,000 into expendable trust or capital reserve funds. The largest appropriation requests are for $100,000 for the town’s road rehabilitation and reconstruction expendable trust fund, $110,000 for the highway and cemetery equipment capital reserve fund, $90,000 for the Whitcomb Hall rehabilitation expendable trust fund and $60,000 for an expendable trust fund for town hall repairs, maintenance and improvement.
The town’s warrant and budget can be found on the town website at www.town.swanzey.nh.us.