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Joyce Endee

Racetrack regulation stalls with voters Dalton

March 17, 2010
DALTON – Fewer voters cast their ballot in favor of a race track ordinance in Dalton on March 9, than the number of petitioners who signed to put the measure on the warrant. More than 80 people signed the petition to put the ordinance before the voters, but only 48 voted for the article. After a moderate amount of discussion the measure failed by a more than 2-1 margin 118-48.

While a few proponents of the racetrack ordinance spoke in favor of the regulations that they have argued would preserve the land rights of residents who live in the area of a proposed drag strip on property owned by Doug "Chick" Ingerson. Mr. Ingerson's wife, Amy Ingerson, and a few other residents argued against the measure couching the argument with a firm "us against them" undertone. Moderator Jeff Woodburn said that Mrs. Ingerson made a strong case against allowing outside influences to dictate what happens in town to the traditionally independent Dalton voters. Selectman Brian Hardy agreed, saying that Mrs. Ingerson's assertions that Dalton should not allow Bethlehem and Littleton residents affect how Dalton operates resonated with the voters. The residents of the neighboring towns had been active protesters at prior hearings, including a DES hearing last July, citing possible impacts on their homes and quality of life since the proposed track would be situated near the convergence of the Dalton, Littleton, and Bethlehem town lines – between Mann's Hill and Forest Lake.

Mr. Woodburn said that the argument proposed by Mrs. Ingerson was augmented by one with a more fiscal slant from Sharon Tupper. Ms.Tupper noted that in this tough economic climate it is important to let people make a living, he explained.

"The electorate is pretty conservative," Mr. Hardy said, adding he wasn't surprised by the sound defeat of the article. He added that Dalton has a reputation as being anti-zoning , although he admitted that no zoning proposals prior to this one had been brought forward during his 10-year tenure. The town did approve monies to craft a Master Plan five years ago, however. He added that he was informed that as a result of last week's vote, the Zoning Committee of the Planning Board has suspended its operation and the Planning Board continues to work on the Master Plan. "We need something that is appropriate for the town," he said.

All of the other articles on the Dalton warrant passed, with the exception of a request for $130,000 bond to purchase a loader for the highway department. The appropriation fell through after it did not garner the necessary two-thirds majority vote, despite winning a simple majority 104-66.

Incumbent selectman Brian Hardy retained his seat on the board with 136 votes. His opponent Michele Rzepa received 119, and write-in candidate Eric Moore garnered 39. Nancy Comeau was elected as Library Trustee with 204 votes (Anna Gilbody-50, Christine Odinetz-31). Marion Schafer beat Krysta Walsh in a race for a two-year post as supervisor of the checklist 156-104, and Cathleen Fountain won the seat of supervisor of the checklist for four years over James Sherwood, Jr., 165-85.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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