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Redistricting may change 10 Manchester wards

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 24. 2011 12:10AM

MANCHESTER- When city residents go to vote in the 2012 presidential election next November, some residents may cast their ballots in a different ward.

On Thursday the Public Works and Community Development and Planning Departments presented their plan to the city's Redistricting Committee to redraw the borders of 10 of the city's 12 wards. The state Constitution requires a redistricting of legislative districts every 10 years after the federal government conducts the U.S. Census. Although much of this work will be done by the state Legislature, Manchester does its own redistricting as well and sends the plan to Concord as a guideline. The goal is to get as close to the same number of people in each ward as possible.

The proposal calls for about 9,000 people in each ward. Because some wards grew at a faster rate than others, and some wards lost population, the borders on most wards had to be slightly adjusted.

Click here to see a map of the proposed redistricting.

The biggest proposed change is in Ward 6. About 1,000 voters residing near Stevens Pond will be shifted to Ward 4 and a small number of voters off of Candia Road will be shifted to Ward 5.

The West Side will also see some slight changes under the proposal. Much of the southern edge of Ward 12 - about 450 voters - will be shifted over to Ward 11. To offset the gains in Ward 11, a section of the ward along Granite Street will be shifted to Ward 10, giving that ward about 400 voters.

Other proposed changes include:

- moving a section off of West Webster Street from Ward 3 to Ward 1.

- moving a section off of Union Street and Queen City Avenue from Ward 3 to Ward 9.

- moving two sections along Merrimack Street from Ward 4 to Ward 5.

- moving a section off of Devco Drive from Ward 8 to Ward 9.

- Wards 2 and 7 will not see any changes under the proposal.

City staff came up with the proposal and the Redistricting Committee on Thursday gave it the initial go-ahead, sending it on to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for discussion. Once before the board, it will vote on a public hearing date so the public can give input on the plan. The final redistricting plan will go to the voters in November and will not go into effect until after the New Hampshire Presidential primary. It will be in effect for elections in November 2012.

The proposal keeps largely to the same city ward lines that are now in place. When changes had to be made, city staff tried to rely on natural boundaries and avoid breaking up neighborhoods, said Planning and Community Development Director Leon LaFreniere.

'We looked at it from the perspective of not reinventing the city and how the ward lines were laid out, but instead making small adjustments to equalize the population in all wards,' said LaFreniere .

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