Warrant articles up for vote in Wilton

WILTON – Town Meeting may be a long one this year, considering various concerns raised at the public budget hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The traditional Town Meeting on Thursday, March 16, will address 15 varied articles.

A change in zoning regulations concerning accessory apartments will appear on the official ballot to be voted on at town elections on Tuesday, March 14.

For the first time, the operating budget will be discussed first instead of last because of the number of people who leave before the end of a long meeting, selectmen said.

The budget totals $5,111,323, an increase of about 4.3 percent over last year.

Much of the warrant includes contributions to capital reserve funds for highway and police equipment, a new ambulance and bridge repair.

The Fire Department is asking for $325,000 ($250,000 from capital reserve funds) to buy a used ladder truck.

Officials said it was determined that a good used vehicle would meet the department’s needs, given the frequency of the use of a ladder truck.

The renovations of the north end of Town Hall, estimated at $300,000, would include life and safety code improvements and a buildingwide alarm system. Plans include a total renovation of the area that was once occupied by the Police Department into offices, storage and a meeting room. It doesn’t include redoing the front entrance ramp, which will be revisited by selectmen.

The Economic Development Committee is proposing developing the riverbank from the Route 31 bridge, along Stoney Brook around the Police Station parking area, to the railroad embankment. It proposes using $42,450 from the Cooley Park Capital Reserve Fund.

At the budget hearing, committee members Jennifer Beck and Alison Meltzer presented a sketch plan of the park, which includes trees, benches and tables, and eventual development of a picnic area with gazebo at the western end behind the Police Station. Former decorative lighting would be restored.

“Stoney Brook is a protected waterway,” Beck said, “and we have inquired into the needed permits.”

Meltzer said the plan includes using “historic artifacts from the former mills and educational graphics about wildlife” to be provided by the Conservation Commission.

Committee members will meet with Public Works Director Steve Elliott to discuss snow removal, and selectmen will look into ownership and use of the parking spaces that are owned by, or are under easement to, the Wilton Falls Building.

A proposal to spend $7,000 for N.H. Plan to organize a charrette planning session would provide the Economic Development Committee and Nashua Regional Planning Commission with professional advice. The plan, according to committee head Beck, would include the whole “Wilton Village,” and not just Main Street.

“If you don’t have a plan, you just react” to whatever happens, Beck said. “NRPC will develop a vision for us.”

Selectmen propose establishing new capital reserve funds for a new heating system for Town Hall ($25,000) and for a new Highway Department garage sometime in the future ($75,000).

No particular type of heating system is suggested. A wood pellet system was voted down last year.

Selectmen have no plan for a new garage at this point, just that one will be needed, perhaps a new facility on a new site.

“This is potentially a very expensive project,” Selectman Kermit Williams said.

The present garage, built in the 1950s, and its site on Whiting Hill Road “may not be adequate” given changes in state regulations, Williams said.

Also on the warrant is a proposal to adopt an All Veterans Tax Credit up to $350 for those who served but are not eligible under other state statutes.

A revolving fund for ambulance revenues is proposed. All income would go into a non-lapsing account to even out the annual expenses. A similar plan for the Recycling Center was established last year.

Two petition articles ask that the town be a welcoming community. Part 1 would require that no questions be asked concerning a person’s immigration status, and part 2 would forbid questions concerning a person’s religion or philosophy.

Polls will be open for town elections from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. March 14 at Town Hall.

Town Meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 16 at Florence Rideout Elementary School.