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Salem residents submit warrant articles about sale of town-owned lands

Union Leader Correspondent

January 20. 2018 2:39AM

SALEM — Warrant articles will be on the ballot at this upcoming town meeting aimed at preventing the sale of some town-owned properties and limiting the authority of the Board of Selectmen in such matters.

Two warrant articles call for making some of the property conservation land rather than putting it up for sale.

Residents are concerned that if the land is sold and developed, it would make Salem feel “crowded.”

“It’s getting to a tipping point where we’re starting to overdevelop,” said resident James Carney.

Others said that having the green space helps promote a higher quality of life in town.

The other warrant article calls for residents to vote regarding the possible sale of any town land valued at over $30,000.

Selectmen could decide to sell any town-owned parcel that is priced under $30,000 on their own.

“I want you to trust the voters to make this decision collectively with you,” said resident Diane Paquette, who wrote the warrant article.

Selectmen said they want to sell the land as a way to bring in more tax revenue for the town. If the land is owned by the town, taxes are not paid on it.

“That’s revenue,” said Selectman Gary Azarian. “These parcels should be sold and that revenue returned to taxpayers.”

Some of the land has been deemed unbuildable, Azarian said. Should someone want to develop a piece of land they can build on, they would still need to get any necessary approvals from the zoning or planning boards.

The town has also worked to make sure that green space remains in the town, said Selectman Everett McBride. This past year, for example, 136 acres was added to the town forest, he said.

The warrant articles will be posted on the town website.

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