By Alex Malm
HAMPSTEAD – The Hampstead Board of Selectmen held its bi-monthly meeting on Monday, April 26.
During the meeting a main agenda item that was discussed was in regards to the application fees for the zoning board of adjustment applications.
It was explained by Board of Selectmen Chairperson Sean Murphy that they originally voted to increase the fees during a previous meeting however they then realized that they needed to have a public hearing in order to do so which took place during the April 26 meeting.
Murphy said that the reason why they decided to explore raising the prices for the application fees is because they are much lower than all the surrounding towns.
“Our fees are low,” he said.
He said that currently they are charging $35 per application while most towns are charging at least $150.
“While towns aren’t supposed to make money off of services they are allowed to cover their costs,” Murphy said. One of the main expenses that he said are associated with the applications is the cost to advertise the public hearings in the newspaper.
Previously the Board voted to increase the application fee to $100 and the fee for abbutter notices to $10 per notice. Right now they are charging $6.98 per notice.
The ZBA Chair Geoff Dowd wrote a letter to the Board of Selectmen stating that they should raise the fee for applications to $75.
Selectmen Joseph Guthrie said that he thinks there is a need to increase the fees.
“There is a need to increase the fees. The question is just how much,” he said.
One question that he asked was why they don’t charge a legal fee unlike some of the other towns.
Sally Theriault, Administrative Assistant for the Board of Selectmen explained that it’s not a legal fee and instead a fee for legal advertising.
“It’s really a legal notice fee,” she said.
She said that unlike other towns they have historically not had separate fees instead just have had it combined with the application fee like they do now.
Murphy said that $100 would still be lower than other comparable towns and he was okay with that being the fee for applications.
“I’m okay with the previous action of the Board unless someone wants to propose a different amount,” he said.
The rest of the Board agreed and they approved raising the fee to $100 for applications and $10 for the abbutter notices.
In other news the Board of Selectmen discussed regulations about masks being worn inside the Town buildings.
Theriault said that right now the masks are still required but said that since the Governor’s Executive Orders requiring that masks be worn has been lifted it is now up to businesses and Towns to decide whether or not they want to require them.
“I’m bringing it to your attention to see if you want to make a decision,” she said.
Murphy said that he thought they should continue with masks being worn inside the building.
“My thought is that we keep the mask mandate for inside the building,” he said.
The Board of Selectmen ultimately agreed to continue the mandate until July 1 and then revisit it again then.
The next Hampstead Board of Selectmen meeting is May 10 at 7 p.m.