Hooksett: No go on growth control
By MATTHEW CALL
Union Leader Correspondent
Tuesday, Jun. 20, 2006
HOOKSETT – Planners last night killed a move to place a new growth management ordinance before voters at the September primary.
The unanimous decision delays for nearly a year attempts by the town to update the growth restriction passed by voters in 2005 and struck down by a superior court judge in April.
Planning board members had hoped to address the court’s findings by September and put a new growth ceiling on the books. But to follow the court’s guidelines, the town would have to select a consultant, finish and review studies and have the law ready five weeks prior to the Sept. 12 ballot.
"That’s not going to happen," planning board Chairman Dick Marshall said.
Town councilors allocated $15,000 for studies to back up a new growth ordinance, but they won’t be completed before the primary, planning board members said. Instead, the town will use the studies in the hopes of putting the measure in front of voters next May.
"Otherwise we’re just spinning our wheels," planning board member Ken Burgess said.
The town spent more than $10,000 unsuccessfully defending the citizen petition that created the growth management ordinance. The court found the town did not follow state law in creating the restriction because the petition bypassed the planning board and there was no analysis of whether a ceiling was needed.
"I don’t want to waste another $10,000," said planning board member Ray Guay. "It will be challenged again and we don’t have our homework behind this one either."
The first public hearing on the new ordinance last week met fierce criticism from community members and developers who argued the town couldn’t justify a warrant article without the numbers citing a growth problem.