PETERBOROUGH — Town officials are apologizing for the way they handled a protest petition approved by selectmen that affects Tuesday’s ballot vote on town zoning rules.
At issue is selectmen waiting until after all members of the public departed their May 7 meeting before introducing the petition.
The protest petition, spearheaded by Democratic State Rep. Ivy Van, requires that ballot question Zoning Amendment 15 garner 66 percent of the vote, a two-thirds supermajority, instead of the regular simple majority Libby Rienhardt was anticipating as one of the amendment’s proponents.
Reinhardt, who was surprised by the petition, said it was introduced after selectman had said goodnight to members of the public. But the meeting did not adjourn, instead Assistant Town Administrator Nicole McStay brought forward the petition for board members to sign.
Reinhardt had pushed for Zoning Amendment 15 to be on the ballot through a citizen’s petition to stop the “densification” of Peterborough. The town in 2017 adopted zoning rules that allow for denser development throughout town.
“We don’t want a museum,” Reinhardt said, “but there’s plenty of ways to do what Peterborough wants.”
Town administrator Rodney Bartlett said Monday that a social media apology was posted over the weekend for not introducing the critical petition earlier in the meeting, while the public was present.
Despite the town’s handling of the issue, Bartlett said the protest petition is legally binding during Tuesday’s vote. Reinhardt and others are challenging the signatures on the petition claiming some may be invalid.
Voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Community Center on 25 Elm St. The open session portion of Town Meeting begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Hall on Grove Street.