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Forum, March 3: Proposed Lebanon zoning amendments raise questions

Published: 3/2/2021 10:00:07 PM
Modified: 3/9/2021 9:54:19 AM
Proposed Lebanon zoning amendments raise questions

On Tuesday, Lebanon voters will be deciding on three amendments to the zoning ordinance.

One proposal would allow building heights in the R-1 zone to exceed the maximum of 45 feet by 10 feet to allow for parking under or within the building, with Planning Board approval. Maybe some voters are not interested in seeing 55-foot-high projects on our skyline. Why should Lebanon be the dumping ground for these rectangular blocks? Larger developments mean demands for more services requiring higher taxes.

Another proposal would allow houses of worship in R-3 zones as a permitted use as in other districts. This appears innocuous. However, houses of worship come in all sizes and with varying other accessories, such as function halls, parking areas, schools and shops. Maybe proposed houses of worship in all districts should require special exceptions.

As to the third amendment, it is difficult to interpret its purpose.

For those voters, who on Jan. 20 attempted to attend virtually the City Council public hearing on these proposed changes, there were 15 other proposals. The discussions were rapid and it was difficult to insert any comments. A more appropriate response by the City Council would be to have all 18 proposed changes on the ballot. Yes, it would require the city to initiate an education campaign as to each change and the purposes for the proposals. Since the voters will be directly impacted, the voters should be allowed to decide on all 18, not just the carefully selected three proposals.

MARY ANN MASTRO

Lebanon

‘Yes’ on Canaan zoning article

Responding to Larry Guaraldi’s Forum letter (“Vote against proposed zoning in Canaan,” March 2): Canaan already has some zoning: the 1988 flood ordinance, the 2006 drinking water ordinance and the 2018 wind system ordinance. Article Two applies only to the Canaan Historic District and is limited, as are the other zoning ordinances. Any change to the ordinance after its adoption can be done only by townwide vote.

The letter reflected a misunderstanding of the information supporting Article Two. Specifically, there is no additional cost, town structure is already in place and there is no hired staff. In fact, this ordinance will save money on attorney’s fees enforcing Historic District rules and regulations.

The letter also mentions a lack of need for the ordinance. It is not wise to wait until the horse has escaped to close the barn door. The town attorney has recommended that this ordinance be adopted to align with state law. Article Two also is supported by the Historic District Commission and the Planning Board.

The letter suggests that zoning is not necessary because “nothing will change.” The substance of the rules and regulations of the Canaan Historic District will not change, but the provisions concerning building height, setbacks and property usage will be moved from the present regulations to the zoning ordinance, which is required by state law, and the role of the Board of Adjustment will be clarified.

Article Two affects only the Canaan Historic District and has no impact on the rest of the town.

Of the 1,357 total residences in Canaan, 350 are mobile homes and additional space is available in the mobile home parks. Canaan permits accessory dwelling units (mother-in-law apartments) and has workforce housing available. Affordable housing could be located in the Historic District if an application met Historic District regulations and was approved.

Many residents of the Historic District located there because of the protections afforded by the regulations.

Article Two is simply changing the enforcement mechanism, not the substance of the regulations. Canaan residents: Vote “yes” on Article Two.

THOMAS MILLIGAN

Canaan

The writer is an alternate member of the Canaan Historic District Commission.

Sylvia Puglisi is the type of leader Lebanon needs

Sylvia Puglisi is the real deal. This dedicated educator with a passion for serving the hardest-hit communities is choosing to enter public service for all the right reasons. When we first spoke about running for Lebanon City Council, the biggest takeaway I had was the incredible humility with which Puglisi approached this work. I think we’re all tired of elected officials who think they have all the answers and as soon as they have your vote somehow no longer care what matters to the people around them. Puglisi is truly different. The care, passion, consideration and thoughtfulness that imbues this candidate’s statements, life’s work and all aspects of this race, is evident. This is a candidate who will speak for all the people of Lebanon.

This election is a critical time for our beloved city. It represents a real opportunity to move forward, and Puglisi will be a force for that progress. We are facing a housing crisis of devastating proportions, with many residents paying more than half their income in housing costs; we are in the midst of a calamitous pandemic and too many of our fellow citizens have no access to basic services; too often our city has only one option for emergency services. We need different choices. Puglisi is dedicated to bringing in smart solutions to these problems.

I love this city, and I have a wonderful life here. But I can’t be comfortable knowing that many around me don’t have the same chances that I do. Puglisi is the type of leader we need to give everyone a chance to thrive. I urge you to get out on March 9 and vote for Sylvia Puglisi. I’ll be there at the polls if you want to talk more. See you then.

RORY GAWLER

Lebanon

Karen Liot Hill is invaluable

It has been my honor and privilege to serve with Karen Liot Hill on the Lebanon City Council for the past eight years. She is a candidate for reelection on Tuesday, as I am, but I’m unopposed while she faces two opponents in her at-large race. I urge a vote for her.

Liot Hill brings a passion for the well-being of our community and good governance to this volunteer position. Her institutional knowledge and perspective as the longest-serving councilor in our city’s history — 16 years — is invaluable to council deliberations. She takes the time to listen to and draw out others, explain context and articulate her rationale for the votes she casts.

She values transparency, accountability, inclusiveness and diversity. She does not hesitate to apologize when she makes a mistake.

She has helped lead the effort to make Lebanon more sustainable and resilient, both economically and environmentally. She supports fiscal responsibility and understands the need to keep Lebanon affordable for residents from all walks of life.

Learn more about her at karenliothill.com, and please vote on Tuesday.

CLIFTON C. BELOW

Lebanon

Cory Grant puts people first

It is with great pleasure I write this letter of support for Cory Grant in his candidacy for the Ward 2 Lebanon City Council seat. If you want someone representing you who will work tirelessly to make Lebanon a better place to live, than he is your man. A strong supporter of the critical services provided by the police, fire and EMS teams, he will lead with a level head, using common sense and a people-first approach to make tough decisions.

I have known him for many years and he has proved himself to be one of the hardest-working and most dedicated people I have ever met. He is the kind of person who you can call at 2 a.m. when you have a problem.

Grant has served his community in many ways, including being the current president of the Lebanon Outing Club, which helps operate the Storrs Hill ski area. He has invested thousands of hours over the years to make alpine skiing and ski jumping available to the greater Lebanon community. He has the ability to communicate his vision and get people to join him in getting things done. This allows him to be a tremendous agent of change who can get more done than most. As club president, has achieved more in the last five years than has been achieved in the last several decades. With a unique passion, and leading by example, he has led the outing club through a tremendous period of revitalization and improvement. The club has benefited beyond measure from his leadership and hard work. The city of Lebanon would be fortunate to have him on the leadership team.

He has a heart for people, from young children to the elderly. Lebanon has prided itself as a great place to live for people of all ages. He will work to continue that tradition by seeking ways to help the children thrive, families succeed and the elderly afford to stay in their homes.

Join me in supporting Cory Grant for Lebanon City Council from Ward 2.

ODIE COURTEMANCHE

Lebanon

Stephen Kantor has long served Lebanon community

I am writing this letter in support of Stephen Kantor’s candidacy for a seat on the Lebanon School Board. I have known him for almost a decade, but he has served the community for almost two, as a physician and a community volunteer.

He has three daughters who have grown up through the Lebanon school system. He has seen what the system is capable off and is passionate that we, as a community, have a responsibility to ensure that each child receives an appropriate and equal education. His idea to optimize use of school funds, rather than simply ask for more, resonates strongly with me. It shows a desire to work with what is already allocated. Education is an ongoing investment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean higher taxes. He’s sensitive to the hardships we face with our current taxes.

A regular volunteer, early on in the pandemic he volunteered to perform COVID-19 testing at drive-thru clinics. He has held volunteer board positions with numerous nonprofit organizations. I served on a board with him, seeing firsthand his efficacy as a board member. We also volunteer together as coaches for local youth at Whaleback.

Another important topic is his stance against the voucher system. He feels strongly that our tax dollars need to stay here, in our local school system, which would not be the case if the voucher system were enacted. Approving a voucher system will, by definition, see our precious tax dollars drained from our already underfunded public schools. Kantor will do his best to see to it that our school tax dollars stay within our schools.

He may not have some of the direct experience with the SAU that the other candidates do, but he certainly is an experienced board member and knows what is involved. He is more than willing and definitely capable to put in the time and effort to do the right thing for our kids and our community. Stephen Kantor has sound judgment, science-based knowledge and, ultimately, just wants the Lebanon school system to be the best it can be.

JASON GUNN

Lebanon

Attesting to Lilian Maughan’s commitment to education

I am the parent of fifth and seventh graders at Lebanon Middle School. On March 9, I will vote for the Stephen Kantor, Lilian Maughan and Lisa Vallejo Sorensen slate for the Lebanon School Board.

I am writing to personally attest to Maughan’s commitment to our community’s successful public education system. Since moving to Lebanon in 2016, she has devoted countless hours volunteering in the Lebanon schools. At Hanover Street School, she was a Four Winds parent instructor for four years; not only did she instruct her sons’ classes, but she stepped up to teach classes without parent instructors. She served as secretary for the PTO and chaired the book fair for several years. Currently, she is the Lebanon Middle School yearbook coordinator and PTO president and has worked to thoughtfully engage the community-at-large. One program she created was Virtual February Vacation, which connected families with a range of free local activities at different community organizations. This creative, bridge-building mentality will serve her well as a School Board member.

It’s clear that the necessary commitment of individual school board members has increased exponentially since COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, Maughan has been a parent representative for SAU 88 and has attended (and often participated in) every School Board meeting. I appreciate her desire to increase transparency in the district, her thoughtful consideration of data-driven decisions, and her sensitivity when it comes to serving so many stakeholders. I am grateful that Lilian Maughan is willing to dedicate her time and effort to Lebanon’s schools. I encourage all community members to support her (and her slate) on March 9.

EMMA WUNSCH

Lebanon

Lilian Maughan is the right person at this critical time

When I met Lilian Maughan several years ago, I realized very quickly she was a person with a passion for supporting and enriching the community she lived in. Over the years we have served on several committees together, supporting the school district of Lebanon, and I have found no one as prepared for a meeting as she is.

When voters go to the polls on Tuesday to vote for School Board candidates, they should choose Maughan for several reasons. Yes, she utilizes her education background, does her research and gathers information to be prepared for meetings, but more important, she is level-headed and appreciates collaborating with different perspectives to find the best solution to move forward. This willingness to find the best possible ways to support our staff and find solutions for our school is why she is the right person at this critical time for the School Board. Lilian Maughan’s continued hard work for the city of Lebanon is why she has my thanks, and my vote.

KATIE SCANLON

Lebanon

Running to help in Claremont

My name is Joshua Lambert, and I am running for one of the three open seats on the Claremont School Board. While this race is uncontested, I still believe in the idea of campaigning for and earning this seat and want to take a moment to introduce myself.

As a fourth-generation graduate of Stevens High School and four-year varsity athlete, I grew up with so much pride in this district. But after graduating in 2011 and leaving for college, my pride in this district decreased significantly.

One year after I graduated, Stevens High School lost its accreditation, something it wouldn’t receive again until 2017. Since then we’ve seen a poorly implemented grading system and incredible educators who have left the district. These situations have improved under the current superintendent and School Board, but the damage was still done. I want to be part of the solution. I want to help this district overcome its troubles.

I promise you that I will listen to all concerns. As an educator myself, it is imperative to have an ongoing dialogue with district educators. I also want to have an “open door” policy regarding public input on how we can improve this district while also working on lowering property taxes. As a soon-to-be parent, I want to make sure parents know that their voices will be heard, as well. I will work my hardest with the rest of the board to implement changes that will improve this district for the long haul.

Please vote on March 9 to show your support for the district.

JOSHUA LAMBERT

Claremont

What won’t be taught in NH?

So, three New Hampshire legislators seek to prohibit public school teachers from discussing racism and sexism in the classroom. The lawmaker who introduced the bill, Rep. Keith Ammon, reportedly got the idea for HB 544, an act “relative to propagation of divisive topics,” from an anonymous University of New Hampshire professor. I can only surmise that this scholar missed the class on academic freedom.

Setting aside the dubious constitutionality of this proposal, what exactly will be prohibited if HB 544 becomes law is murky.

Let’s consider the Civil War, which I assume is a topic that Rep. Ammon thinks is still worthy of teaching in the Granite State’s public schools. One would be hard pressed to find a more divisive period in our nation’s history. Will New Hampshire teachers be banned from mentioning slavery and how it eventually led to the Civil War? Will teachers face discipline if they dare explore how the South lost the war but nonetheless maintained white supremacy when it replaced slavery with another odious racist caste system that became known as Jim Crow? Will teachers be muzzled from mentioning to students how the courts and civil disobedience were among the tools put to use by the likes of Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr. in the struggle to end Jim Crow?

The United States is no doubt a great nation, and I’m thankful to be a citizen. It is beyond dispute, however, that the story of how this great nation was built includes horrific chapters on the enslavement of Black people and the genocide of millions of Native Americans, and the aftermath of both continues to haunt us. Only by confronting these painful truths will we be able to, as Rep. Ammon put it, “get to unity.”

What’s next in his misguided effort to whitewash history and diminish the critical thinking skills of our nation’s youth? Perhaps next he’ll propose a ban on teaching evolution in the classrooms of New Hampshire’s public schools. After all, Darwin’s brilliant discovery remains “only a theory.

MARK LATHAM

Hartford




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