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Aldermen move prison ordinance forward

MANCHESTER - The Board of Mayor and Aldermen moved forward with an ordinance on Tuesday that will allow but limit a private prison and halfway houses within the city.

The proposed ordinance was recommended in an 8-6 vote. It now heads to the Committee on Accounts and Enrollment for further review. If that committee recommends the ordinance changes, the proposal will come back to the aldermen for a final vote next month.

The city currently has no control over where privately owned or operated prisons can operate in the city after the New Hampshire Supreme Court shot down the city's ordinance covering private prisons. To resolve this issue, city officials recommended that aldermen approve a new ordinance with tight restrictions.

The ordinance would limit private prisons to industrial zones on a lot of 5 acres or more and 1,500 feet from a church, school, park, licensed day care facility, child recreation facility such as a YMCA or residential zones. It would also limit where privately-owned half-way houses can be built as well.

If passed, the ordinance would be a major impediment for plans to build a private prison on Hackett Hill.

Alderman Tom Katsiantonis, who represents Ward 8 where the industrial zone is located, said he is against the proposed zoning changes and wants to see the prison zone located elsewhere in the city.

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