, Newburyport, MA

February 5, 2013

Seabrook deliberates Town Meeting warrant tonight

By Angeljean Chiaramida

---- — SEABROOK — Voters have their only opportunity tonight to discuss and amend any of the 40-plus articles on the Town Meeting warrant to be voted at the polls on Tuesday, March 12.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Community Center.

This year’s warrant carries customary requests, such as approval of an $18,711,069 town operating budget for 2013. This budget is $45,795 more than the 2012 budget approved at the polls last year. Should the proposed budget fail to garner voter support, a higher default budget of $18,715,449 will automatically go into effect.

This year’s warrant also carries a large number of petitions offered by citizens. The ballot carries two petitions to change the town’s zoning bylaw. The petitions — neither is recommended by the Planning Board — would allow blade or banner signs outside local businesses in a manner not currently permitted. And, back again this year is a petition warrant article that would restore the ability to shoot fireworks off on private property at the beach district, currently forbidden.

Other citizens petition warrant articles include: establishing regulations to require the humane tethering of dogs outside the home; naming Seabrook Recreation Center for “Ted” Pickard, a long-standing employee of the town; $2,800 to install dash cameras on all Seabrook police vehicle; $119,500 to improve Gov. Wear Park and its extension; $10,000 to buy wrestling mats for the Recreation Center, and $7,500 for Community Home Solutions.

The Planning Board requests voter approval of a zoning bylaw change that would prevent new gas stations from being built within 1,000 feet of an existing station. Exempting the current 12 filling stations in town, the article hopes to prevent an excessive concentration of petroleum products that could pose a threat to groundwater.

The board also proposes other amendments, including: changing the zoning of two strips of land near the harbor, amending the definition of “Home Occupation” and the adoption of a building code amendment to conform with accepted international codes.

Money Articles

Most articles requesting money carry fiscal notes on the warrant informing voters on their impact on property tax rate, if appropriate. When money from reserve funds will be used, no fiscal impact is noted.

As in previous years, voters are asked to approve one article funding 23 social service agencies serving the needs of local citizens.This year’s request is $103,000. In addition, there are the following individual social services for Rockingham County Action ($42,700), Seacoast Youth Services ($20,000) and Council on Aging transportation fund ($5,000).

For pay-outs to town employees cashing in unused, accrued sick and vacation time upon separation with the town, $150,000 is requested.

Town projects requesting funding include: $5,000 for headstone restoration; $27,500 for retaining wall repair at the Methodist Cemetery; $35,000 to resurface the cemetery roads; $43,000 to replace the siding/windows at Old South Meeting House; $37,000 for new broadcasting equipment for the town’s public access TV channel; and $100,000 for a new generator for Town Hall.

Library requests: $40,000 to purchase new library materials for children and adults, as well as DVDs, CDs and videos (money for new materials is not including in the library’s annual budget); $40,000 for maintenance on the library building, which has no tax impact.

Recreation Department requests include: $300,000 for mold remediation for exterior walls at the Community Center; $12,500 to repair the parking lot; $7,500 to repair the tennis courts at the Recreation Center.

Sewer Department requests: $30,000 for paving; $120,000 to expand office space at the wastewater treatment building: $15,000 for rotor drives at the treatment plant; $21,000 for a 3/4-ton pick-up truck.

Public Works Department: $60,000 for a 1-ton truck/plow; and $135,000 for new rubbish truck; $241,000 from the town’s transportation reserve fund to repave town roads.

Water Department: $102,900 to replace the water line on Dwight Avenue and $50,000 to maintain the town’s 12 public wells.

Fire Department: $180,000 to replace firefighter breathing apparatus; $42,000 for firefighting equipment, including imaging cameras and gas detection units; $85,000 to install an exhaust system for the fire station.