NEWRY — Selectmen voted 3-0 Tuesday night to hold municipal elections the day before the annual town meeting instead of the same day.

That means voters will go to the polls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, March 2, at the Town Office to elect a selectman and meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, for town meeting in the Bear River Grange Hall.

Selectman Brooks Morton said his three-year term is up.

Administrator Loretta Powers said Newry usually holds its annual town meeting on the first Monday in March. She suggested the town hold elections the day before the annual meeting.

In August 2012, voters changed the voting method to a secret ballot.

However, no one remembered that at the town meetings in 2013 and 2014. That was straightened out this spring when Selectmen Wendy Hanscom and Gary Wight had to resign, along with SAD 44 board members Bonnie Largess and Deb Webster.

Advertisement

Hanscom and Wight were re-elected in June 2014, but Largess and Webster were reappointed by selectmen to finish their terms ending March 2015. Webster, however, resigned in August and selectmen appointed Whitney Gray to fill her term.

In other business, members of the Bingham Forest Authority and Mahoosuc Pathways and new Bethel Town Manager Christine M. Landes introduced themselves to selectmen.

Jim Largess, a former Newry Planning Board member and selectman, is representing Newry on the Bingham Forest Authority board. Gabe Perkins is the executive director of Mahoosuc Pathways, which wants to build mountain bike and hiking trails in Bingham Forest. The 2,400-acre forest is all in Newry, but the land is owned by Bethel per a 1925 trust deed.

Selectman Brooks Morton suggested to Largess and Perkins that they meet with the Newry Planning Board before building any trails in the forest because Newry has zones that limit types of use.

Morton said Newry may need to change a zone to allow such recreational trails and that could only be done at town meeting.

“I’d hate to see the project held up if you had men and equipment there, and then say, ‘Oh, no, we’ve got to go before Newry,'” Morton said.

Advertisement

“If we have to adhere to zoning, we should know what those are, and right now I don’t,” Perkins said.

Code Enforcement Officer David Bonney said the authority would need Newry Planning Board approval for any land-based recreation activities. He suggested they meet with the Planning Board.

“We’ll be happy to do that,” Perkins said. “At this point, nothing’s happened except for timber harvesting.”

“It’s good that we’re talking about this now, because there is nothing imminent,” Largess said.

He said they will harvest timber for five years to generate enough revenue to pay taxes on the forest for 10 years, and stop cutting for five years.

“Hopefully, we’re going to be able to keep this thing viable for the next 10 years,” Largess said. “What that’s done for us, we’re not in a rush. The Bingham Forest is not new. It’s not going away. It’s not like we need to get this done right now, so the pressure is off the Bingham Forest Authority to get anything further done right now.”

Advertisement

Largess said the authority hired Mahoosuc Pathways to put together what happens on the ground.

“The consent decree talks about the recreational use — no motorized vehicles,” he said. “So living with the consent decree, what can we do? … I’m sure someday there will be some great hiking recreation out there, but like I said, it’s not imminent.”

“Funding dependent,” Perkins said. “And that’s my job.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.