The Power of Article 5. The Request.

 

Okay so I’m on the phone now dialing the Office of the County Attorney at the county complex in North Haverhill, New Hampshire. The phone rings twice and a male voice answers “Grafton County Attorney.” And I say, “County Attorney St. Hillare please.” And the response, “This is he.” Is this just amazing the county attorney answered his own phone! For some reason my perception of lawyers is that they never answer their own phones, instead this task is relegated to a staffer or a paralegal. And especially so in a position like a county attorney with a very litigious society that we’re in…

“I’m calling today to express a concern I have about the possibility of a law being broken by the Selectmen in the Town of Bethlehem.” I say. The county attorney responds by asking me to provide some details which I did and this is a violation of article 5 by the town giving money to the Peabody & Smith Realty company. As a part of my explanation I ask if his office has the power to issue a cease and desist, injunction or some other legal order either stopping the warrant article, or if passed requiring the money to be returned. St. Hillare responds by saying that he would have to check on this and that his position is about identical to an Assistant State Attorney General in terms of what he could do “If the Board of Selectmen (Bethlehem) is not in compliance with the state law my office would be interested in this.” he said. The conversation concluded, it’s sometime in mid December.

Being in a small town there are always a lot of rumors around. So as the winter progressed I heard a number of rumors about the proposed Tri-Town Industrial Park some credible others just fictional. The most credible one I heard was that in early January the number three official at the U.S. Department of Commerce had visited the area on a tour with Mike King the Executive Director of the North County Council, a state supported regional planning agency and part of this tour was the Littleton Industrial Park and the proposed site of some federally funded affordable housing developments in the Littleton area, including the former Littleton Hospital. Well the rumor said that since there were vacant lots available in the Littleton Industrial Park and the affordable housing projects were ready to move forward the priority for funding requests would be this instead of the Tri Town Industrial Park; regardless of whether it passed by the voters of the three towns.  By now it’s late February and town meeting is weeks away. And the county attorney still hasn’t responded to my request.  I decide against contacting him. As stated previously, I’m a supporter of economic development and jobs and if this Tri-Town project can move forward it would be good for the area.

So Town Meeting comes in March and the warrant articles pass all three towns. Both the articles of incorporation and the respective $5,000.00 appropriations.

The very next day I get a letter from the Grafton County Attorney dated one day beyond the town meeting vote.

To Be Continued…