Bedford voters support teacher pay raises, elect new town councilorBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
March 18. 2017 1:03AM
BEDFORD — About 14 percent of the town’s registered voters appeared at the polls on Thursday, electing a new town councilor, approving the school budget and supporting wage increases for local teachers.
Catherine Rombeau, a newcomer to local politics, was the highest vote-getter in the town council race. Rombeau obtained 1,327 votes to secure a seat on the board, along with incumbent Chris Bandazian who was re-elected with 1,273 votes. Opponent James Barrett was unable to gain enough votes with 1,162 supporters.
Rombeau, of Pembroke Way, said during her campaign that her main goals, if elected, are to protect residential neighborhoods, support responsible business development in appropriate commercial zones and to maintain adequate infrastructure and services to meet those goals.
“Honored to wake up as Bedford’s new councilor, and very grateful to all of you who got out the vote,” Rombeau said in an online statement on Friday. “Thank you for your questions, letters, posts, signs and ballots. Looking forward to getting to work.”
Rombeau is an attorney, and is married to a federal prosecutor. The couple has two daughters.
Also at the polls on Thursday, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to rezone three local properties — a change that would have allowed a future mixed-use development along Old Bedford Road.
Old Bedford Road Realty, LLC submitted a citizen petition requesting the rezoning of three residential and agricultural lots into a commercial parcel located near The Grand at the Bedford Village Inn.
Nearly 1,990 voters opposed the zoning change, and about 340 voters supported the initiative. If the zoning amendment had been approved, a conceptual plan for redevelopment of the nearly 20-acre site included 48 elderly housing apartment units, 37 cottage-style units and five workforce housing units, in addition to an 8,800-square-foot retail building and the conversion and expansion of an existing house into a community center.
“This is neighborhood poaching, and it is a growing problem around the country,” Mark Reber of 19 Arrowhead Drive said earlier about the proposal. He maintains that it is inappropriate for residents to persuade investors to buy adjacent homes, attempt to rezone the land and then construct commercial buildings in an effort to maximize profits in someone’s backyard.
On the school ballot, Bill Foote and Bill Kassler were re-elected to the school board with 1,791 votes and 1,666 votes, respectively.
The school district’s operating budget of $71.2 million was approved by voters, as well as bargaining agreements with the Bedford Education Personnel Association, Bedford Education Support Staff Association and Bedford Education Association.
The two-year contract for 350 professional educators in the school district will provide teachers with a 4 percent salary increase next year. In exchange, teachers have agreed to significant changes in their health insurance plans.