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February 11. 2013 10:44PM

Low turnout for Windham meeting

WINDHAM - With just 40 or so citizens attending Windham's town deliberative session Monday night, the town's 20 proposed warrant articles were moved to the March ballot with little discussion.

The meeting, held in the Windham High School auditorium, had initially been scheduled for this past Saturday morning but was postponed due to the snowstorm.

Among the proposed warrant items is Article 2, which encompasses 18 zoning ordinance amendments proposed by the planning board.

Community development director Laura Scott said one of the most significant amendments being proposed involves the town's multi-family housing provisions. Scott said the goal is to make the town's language more consistent with the new state definition of multi-family housing, which now includes duplex dwellings.

Under the amended ordinance, duplexes, as well as apartment or condo buildings containing six or fewer units, would be permitted in the "Residence C" district. Right now that area is zoned for manufactured housing.

While the town currently permits boarding or rooming houses in the rural district, the amended ordinance would limit such dwellings to the neighborhood business district.

A $100,958 article for the ongoing restoration of the historic Searles Building fits in to the town's 10-year plan, Selectman Ross McLeod said. The item, which would be funded through money currently set aside for this purpose in a trust fund, would have no initial tax impact though McLeod said its possible there might be an impact in the future if funding runs out. In two separate articles, voters are asked to withdraw $20,000 from the previously established Searles special revenue fund for marketing- and maintenance-related costs and $12,064 from the same revenue fund to pay the principal and interest on an existing loan taken to fund previous renovations in 2003. Those articles would have zero tax impact.

All three items were moved to the March ballot without amendment.

A $202,867 article for the fire department to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus gear also falls under the town's capital improvement plan. Fire Chief Tom McPherson said the gear is "essential for the safety of our firefighters."

McPherson said current FDA guidelines require the town to update its equipment, and the town is awaiting word on whether it's been awarded a federal grant for municipal fire equipment.

Voting on all articles will take place on Tuesday, March 12, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Windham High School.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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