Ossipee selectmen put ordinances on hold, praise snow removal effort


March 03, 2011
OSSIPEE — Public Works Director Brad Harriman is closely watching the bottom line of the town's snow removal budget as storm after storm has sent crews out to keep the roads clear this winter. Harriman said the new bookkeeping system is making it easier to keep tabs on the budget and adjustments, but he is unsure if that line will need to be increased in the budget vote at Town Meeting next week. During the selectmen's meeting, Harriman and his crew were praised for the excellent job they have done keeping the roads clear of snow this year.

The much talked-about hawkers and peddlers ordinance and changes to the town's sign ordinance will not be on the ballot this year as anticipated last fall. As it turns out, the hawker's ordinance does not have to go on the town ballot, but can be adopted by the selectmen anytime during the year. Selectmen got help from the planning board with adopting a draft ordinance, but selectmen want to fine-tune it before adopting it. They also received assistance with updating the town's sign ordinance but said Monday it too needs work before it can be modified by vote of Town Meeting, something that may happen in 2012. Selectmen said because that ordinance was initially adopted at a Town Meeting about 20 years ago, any changes must go to Town Meeting vote but they were not ready to do that this year.

Chairman Harry Merrow said selectmen are ready to dig their heels in if the library trustees don't agree with their way of thinking about health insurance benefits for town employees. Currently, library staff is covered under the town's health insurance policy. This year's union contract stipulates that all union employees will be required to pay a small percentage of their health insurance costs. Traditionally all employees, whether in the union or not, fall under the union contract for benefits. The library trustees, who govern the workings of the library, have pushed back and told selectmen that they will not require the two full-time employees to pay a portion of their insurance. Merrow said if the trustees do not go along with the new agreement, they can seek a separate health insurance plan for the library employees.

Selectmen received a request from the assessing department to drop the requirement that anyone wishing to access the online town maps must first call the town hall and get a password. They swiftly denied the request, stating they are not ready for just anyone to be able to access the online maps. If anyone does want to access the maps, they simply call town hall at 539-4181 and the password is given out with no record of who has asked for the password.

Selectmen approved three requests for events to be held at town hall in the coming months, including the annual economic fair March 26 and chef's cookoff April 2, both sponsored by Ossipee Main Street Program. A penny sale fundraiser to benefit Ossipee Co-op Preschool will be held May 1.

In legislative news, Merrow said he doesn't anticipate any problem with the passage of a House bill that will set the level of Ossipee Lake at 407.25. Merrow said it is known that the State owns along the shorefront to the natural high water mark. Merrow said no one really cared just where that high water mark was until the NH Shoreland Protection Act became law and state agencies suddenly could say, "We own all the land under your cottage," and prohibit any improvements from being made to the property, said Merrow. When NH Department of Environmental Services acknowledged that the previous 410-feet level was incorrect but asked for another year to work on figuring out the correct number, Merrow and representatives Mark McConkey and David Babson filed a bill in legislature to set the level. Merrow gave kudos Monday night to James Rines of White Mountain Survey for his fantastic job of testifying before the state legislature. The bill now goes onto the senate that includes bill supporter Jeb Bradley and will likely pass through and onto the governor for signature.

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