Rochester Selectmen approve most Town Meeting articles

Oct 8, 2019

ROCHESTER — If a review session with Selectmen, the Finance Committee and the Capital Planning Committee is any indication, a proposal to add a handicap accessible press box at Old Rochester Regional High School will find its second time through Town Meeting be just as difficult as its first.

The proposal came to voters at Spring Town Meeting, who voted it down, blocking an attempt by the Old Rochester Athletic Booster Club to restore a box that they said was on the school plans in 2002 renovation efforts.

Selectmen reviewed the press box article and seven others on the November Town Meeting warrant at an Oct. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting. The citizen’s petition for the athletics renovation was the only article they rejected.

Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar explained that town funds “can’t be given out to non-town entities,” like the booster club so it “would be illegal to use tax money.” Justin Shay, who introduced the petition, knows about the legal issue.

Getting a warmer reception was a proposal to build a carport and concrete sidewalk at Dexter Lane Ballfield. Parks Commissioner David Hughes called the playground the “most-used area within the park,” but says his department hasn’t done anything for it in 5 or 6 years.

Asked why a concrete sidewalk was necessary, Hughes explained that other sidewalks quickly become overgrown.

Also recommended for passage was $50,000 to purchase a used dump sander.

Though all three groups recommended the measure, they emphasized the approved sum was “up to $50,000,” and the highway department would not be allowed to go above that limit.

Selectmen and the financial groups recommended two Payments in Lieu of Taxes or PILOTS for solar arrays. One is for an existing Mendell Road array, another for a proposed array for Rochester Memorial School. These payments are limited to whatever the tax value for the property would be.

Rochester Selectmen also endorsed a land swap with the Parks Department for a small strip of land at Dexter Lane Ballfield that it can use as municipal land.

Selectman Brad Morse was on the committee that originally planned the land swap. “That was our purpose when we designed it,” Morse said.

In other news, the Selectmen granted a range license to Steven Morrell for Fox Den Solutions, his firearms and tactical training business on County Road.

The company offers training to law enforcement, military personnel and the general public. It has a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Selectmen’s only condition was that the range be open until 8 p.m. no more than four nights, and cease operation by 6 p.m on other nights.

Rochester Town Meeting will take place at Rochester Memorial School on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.