Proposed water resource zoning changes draw sharp opposition


January 13, 2011
OSSIPEE — "I voted against all of this stuff. This board is voting your rights away. In ten years you will be kissing the town's you-know-what to do anything," said Ossipee Planning Board member Roy Barron, who adamantly opposed any changes to the town's water resource protection district section of the zoning ordinance during a hearing Jan. 4.

As required by state law, the board held a public hearing on that ordinance as well as the newly proposed hawkers and peddlers ordinance. There was so much public input that the board will be meeting to consider all the public comments and will hold a second hearing Jan. 18 at Ossipee Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Any adoption of new ordinances or changes to existing ones will be voted on by town voters in March.

The goal of the hawkers and peddlers ordinance is to require anyone who travels from town to town or place to place within the town selling their wares or services to have a permit from the town. By requiring a permit, said Ossipee Planning Board Chair Bill Grover, the residents of Ossipee can be better protected against criminal activity and have some sort of recourse if they pay for goods or services and the temporary seller doesn't deliver.

There wasn't much public input regarding this ordinance at the Jan. 4 public hearing. But the proposed water resource changes brought out the concerns.

Based on a handout presented by the board, it appears nearly the entire nine-page section of the zoning ordinance is being rewritten, as evidenced by the bolded and underlined proposed new language. Copies of the draft changes are available at Ossipee Town Hall.

The changes were explained by planning board member Robert Gillette as additions recommended by Lakes Region Planning Commission and efforts to bring the ordinance in line with surrounding towns' ordinances to protect the community's water supply.

Ossipee business owner and state representative Mark McConkey called the changes anti-business and argued that the board's requested changes are too much too soon and need more work before going to voters. He presented the board with a list of several questions and concerns about the changes.

"The Town of Ossipee determined many years ago the commercial development should occur on Route 16 and Route 25. The inclusion of the items listed above will stifle growth. Eighty percent of all jobs in this state are by employers that hire six employees or less. Existing small businesses in town will find this ordinance too cumbersome to consider expansion. The Town of Ossipee has good water resource protection regulations built into our zoning ordinance. The Ossipee Planning Board already considers storm water discharge during required site plan reviews. In fact our ordinance is the envy of many towns in the Ossipee Watershed. I recommend that Ossipee review our present groundwater ordinances for areas that need strengthening, monitor our neighboring towns progress enacting sensible groundwater discharge ordinances and if necessary make changes after further careful analysis. Please reject the proposed changes to our Water Resource Protection District," McConkey's statement concluded.

McConley also questioned why the ordinance applies only to businesses but exempts residential properties, given that fire departments respond more often to residential fuel spills than businesses that tend to have better protections in place to prevent contamination.

"I have a 275 gallon tank at my house – if it breaks it will contaminate. This is an anti-business resource district. McConkey has brought up a lot of great points tonight. I am against it. Who will enforce this? We can't even enforce the ones we have now. I think to pass more is just going to push more businesses out. People here are getting older and can't afford their taxes," said planning board member Conrad Billings, who also voted against the ordinance changes.

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