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Salem Officially Pulls Out of Granite State Future

The town will not have a seat at the table on the regional planning initiative.

Salem Selectmen voted 4-1 on Jan. 14 to finally pull out of a regional planning initiative that has been debated back and forth for months.

The planning project, titled Granite State Future, will still go forward. Salem will just not have a seat at the table at the discussions.

Selectman Stephen Campbell said that he does not subscribe to the philosophies of the group nor does he believe that Salem's voice will be heard if the town was a member.

He said that Granite State Future's outcomes are pre-determined by their philosophies.

"You don't have to believe in conspiracies to disagree with the philosophy behind this," Campbell said. "They appeared to not be impressed with private property rights or private water rights and they want to do all of this collectively."

The town waited since early October for correspondence from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The question the town posed was how the program would commit Salem to the federal government.

Greg Carson, New Hampshire Field Office Director for HUD, apologized for the length of time that it took for a response.

"It took months where it should have taken weeks or days so I apologize," he said, explaining that by federal government rule, legal opinions are not given to cities or towns.

Carson sent a letter to the board members on Jan. 14 reinforcing that Salem is neither a grantee nor a sub-grantee with HUD under the terms of the memorandum of understanding.

New Hampshire's nine regional planning commissions have come together for the project, with Nashua's commission as lead contact with the federal Housing & Urban Development department.

HUD awarded the planning commissions a $3.37 million grant through their Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.

"We find it would be disappointing if Salem were not able to at least participate in the discussion at the table," he said.

Selectman Mike Lyons said that the project will go forward with or without Salem.

He did not support the motion to remove the town from its association with the project, saying that he believes that party politics are being introduced.

"I have an impression that national and state party politics are being introduced at this local level," he said, adding that the Selectmen work as non-partisans.

The October discussion on Granite State Future brought out numerous citizens from both Salem and the surrounding area who had strong opinions on the program.

Martha Spalding January 17, 2013 at 05:15 AM
I find it frightening that Granite State Future/Sustainable Communities Initiative seeks to circumvent the Constitutionally protected legislative process and even more frightening that no one seems to be asking why? The governmental structure that we already have in place gives Congress the power to tax and spend. And, as citizens, we have the right to contact our elected representatives and to have our voices heard with regards to legislation at the federal level. Most people have no idea that the regular checks and balance system as originally designed by our Founders is being subverted. The Selectmen wouldn't have been put in the position of having to go through this process in the first place had the regular Constitutional process had been followed. The Federal government would have been responsible for paying for their projects and they would not be looking to the residents. The residents could have contacted their Congressional representatives and had a say in the legislation. Where is the grant money coming from for all these subsidies? Who's getting the grant money it? Who's paying for it? When will the subsidies end? Who'll be responsible for funding the projects once the subsidies expire? Isn't it the old bait and switch game with the taxpayer getting the short end of the stick? Follow the money.
Margie Diggins January 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM
I agree with the selectmen of Salem in their decision to say NO to more government spending and waste and the inevitable loss of freedom due to more control over us. I also agree to stop the name calling when you disagree with someone. We can be civil to each other when we disagree. Good job Salem citizens and selectmen. Margie Diggins
Ken Eyring January 17, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Just to clarify... although the towns will not be legally bound to the HUD agreement... the Regional Planning Commissions are. This fact alone proves it is not the "bottom up" grass roots program that the program's proponents are fond of claiming. Each of the nine RPCs are represented on the Executive Council, which has control over what is in the final plans that are produced. "The Executive Committee comprised of the nine RPC Executive Directors, will serve as the overall decision-making body to allocate resources, set goals, guide program alignment between regions, monitor progress, establish common methodologies, ensure overall coordination and efficiencies, and resolve differences." - Granite State Future Agreement (pg. 4/12) Anything that is in conflict with the mandates of the program will be removed.
Tammy January 17, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Edward-In the past, the Federal gov. agencies in many cases were the barriers of sustainable development. The initiative changes those policies and gives access to grants and information to regional planners so that communities and residents in those communities have more influence, not less. GSF is not a federal entity. Those who are against the initiative are enabling the irresponsible, greedy, big money developers to continue to have influence without input from the people. Most developers today are environmentally responsible and strive to be "green" and support SCI.
Jane Aitken January 17, 2013 at 08:59 PM
I think it is just the opposite from what Tammy says. 'Green' companies are on board and benefit from crony capitalism (federal tax dollars) because they get the contracts for the expensive renovations, and sometimes these things do NOT work as witnessed in Epping where a new, expensive ordinance required all buildings to “implement energy efficiency, conservation and sustainable design principles in its construction.” This was not motivated by the people but by the New Hampshire Carbon Coalition’s Climate Change resolution. Epping joined ICLEI— Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI) in 2007. The Town agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by the year 2025. Epping residents have now told us the ordinance requiring buildings to install a green heating system is a failure. “The people did not know this is what they were getting when they passed the ordinance. The measures taken produced no energy savings for the town – in fact the heating system they installed in Town Hall has been nothing but problematic – and half of what was purchased was returned at a loss to the taxpayers. Buildings that have such a system are actually costing MORE, and yet, the town refuses to do an audit.” We are told over and over again that ICLEI and Granite State Future are merely ’suggesting’ improvements. It's a green scam just like RGGI, sort of like how Al Gore got rich.

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