The Power of Article 5. The Answer.


It’s the day after town meeting and I pick up my mail and in the box is a letter from the Grafton County Attorney.

It starts out like I had hoped and my reasons for contacting his office. Attorney St. Hillare cites at least three cases that were upheld in the New Hampshire Supreme Court that says towns under Article 5 are not authorized to give money to private corporations.

But then the letter took a twist. It said that there was not enough reason, or threshold as he put it, for his office to investigate further or take action against the Selectmen in the Town of Bethlehem. The letter continued on it went to the effect that sometimes in the interests of economic development government and the private sector create “public-private partnerships” to advance projects like the Tri- Town Industrial Park.

So my take on this, and I’m not a lawyer. Article 5 of the NH State Constitution states that towns are not authorized to give money to private corporations, period. But under current law it’s okay for towns to break state law as long as it’s under the aegis of a “public-private partnership.” I think this argument is seriously flawed.

And this isn’t the answer I wanted.

I was hoping the Grafton County Attorney would enforce the law and the principals at the Peabody & Smith Realty Company would have to find a legal means to raise their $15,000.00 request for funds. They stand to make millions of dollars thanks to the taxpayers if this project moves forward, and I don’t think from a business perspective that for Peabody & Smith Realty to come up with the $15,000.00 on their own would be unreasonable. But this isn’t the way it worked out.  But at this point I decide to simply drop the whole matter. I did what I could by raising the issue before the selectmen and the county attorney, what more could I do? I’m also a supporter of creating economic development and jobs and perhaps in the new world order way of thinking and the reality of global based commerce there are other more important issues to be concerned about besides Article 5 of the NH State Constitution. I figured the Tri Town Industrial Park would move forward bringing with it substantial taxbase, jobs and needed economic development across northern New Hampshire.  

It didn’t.

And it doesn’t end here, unfortunately.

Fast forward about eleven months and its now about a month before the next town meeting. Similar to last year warrant articles once again appear. And this time it’s for even more money than the original $5000.00 appropriation. I can’t remember what Littleton and Lisbon were asked for but the amount in Bethlehem was to be $15,000.00.

To Be Continued…