Rindge residents have been at the forefront of fighting major urbanization master plans at their town meetings.
In January and June of 2013, a Rindge resident attended two “visioning” sessions pertaining to a charrette that was held a couple of years earlier. He knew nothing of this charrette before these visioning sessions. Town officials had kept it a pretty good secret, although they insisted everyone was notified. What he learned was horrifying. They were planning on changing zoning in West Rindge Village, and the intersection of routes 119 and 202. What they were proposing was mixed use zoning in these areas. Small little shops on the bottom, and “stack ’em and pack ’em” living spaces on top. These very small “apartments” almost always end up being low income housing. Walking and bike paths. Traffic calming at the intersection. He and his friends did some digging at the town hall and found out the charrette was funded by a HUD grant. As time went on, they would learn just how dangerous this was.
This is when he became involved. He started the group “Save Our Town” and started recruiting help by spreading the word. A newly formed committee started sending out flyers to every household in Rindge. Over 2,200 flyers were sent out alerting the residents on six different occasions. In October of 2013, these activists held an informational meeting with NH State Rep. John Burt and NH State Rep. Jack Flannigan which drew over 200 people. The residents were as surprised as the organizers were when they were told what the town was planning.
Everyone knew now, with all the support, that they had to try and stop this. They canvassed neighborhoods with petitions and got the required amount of signatures to get three articles put on their town warrant for a vote. One article was to remove the charrette results from Rindge’s Master Plan. The second was to remove Rindge’s membership from the South West Reginal Planning Commission, and the last, and probably the most important, was to require voter approval to accept any HUD grants. All three passed at this town meeting by large margins. The removal of the charrette won by a vote of 1082-321. They also got one SOT member elected as selectman, and 2 for the Planning Board.
They are happy to report as of now, it has been pretty quiet in Rindge pertaining to any more major changes. Save Our Town has a committee of about 12 members who take turns attending every Planning Board and Select Board meeting to make sure they do not try to sneak anything else by us. SOT is now a respected group in Rindge, and is often asked to attend certain meetings and hearings to make sure it is what the people of Rindge really want. SOT’s job is to make sure Rindge stays rural. This was a huge lesson that teaches us that you CAN fight city hall and win, you just need to get involved.