EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 12, 2014

N.H. deadline approaching for citizen petitions in N.H.

People power

New Hampshire citizens take government into their own hands Tuesday.

That’s the deadline for filing citizen petition warrant articles that will put issues big and small before voters come Town Meeting this March.

“They are exercising their rights,” Windham Town Clerk Nicole Bottai said.

In Atkinson, voters will see two questions about helping residents cope with contamination of residential wells.

One calls for $157,000 to put water lines on Oakridge Drive and Deer Run Road.

The second calls for $160,000 to help individual homeowners with connections should the federal government fail to help them get public water.

Paul DiMaggio said he collected 83 signatures on the petitions.

“This is a chance for neighbors to help other neighbors without the town setting a precedent,” DiMaggio said.

“This is a neighborhood effort to help fellow neighbors harmed by circumstances beyond their control,” he said.

In Londonderry, a petition article is asking voters to decide whether oversight of the 13-acre town forest should shift from the Conservation Commission to the town manager, said Gerry Van Grevenhof, chairwoman of the supervisors of the checklist.

“They did get enough signatures, 45 legal registrants,” Van Grevenhof said.

That actually was well above the 25 registered voters, or 2 percent of registered voters — whichever is less — required by state law.

Twenty-five people can change the world — or at least try through Town Meeting.

“This is a good way for citizens to do a lot,” Hampstead Selectman Richard Hartung said.

He said the number of petition warrant articles varies year to year.

“We can go years without them,” Hartung said.

There will be one this year in Hampstead.

He said it calls for a constitutional amendment on federal campaign finance reform, clearly something Hampstead voters will need some help with from citizens throughout the nation.

“This is a long-term kind of thing,” Hartung said. “It’s kind of a long shot.”

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