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Plan Pinardville contributor withdraws

GOFFSTOWN — A Goffstown organization that provided financial support to Plan Pinardville has pulled out of the project.

Goffstown Industrial Corporation donated $3,000 in matching funds toward a grant to the town by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority for Plan Pinardville, and local attorney Tony Marts represented the organization on the Plan Pinardville Ad Hoc Committee.

But Rosemary Garretson, the committee's vice chairman, said at its Aug. 20 meeting that the committee received an email Tuesday notifying them of the GIC's withdrawal.

The move comes as Pinardville residents questioned Marts' motives and want the entire plan scrapped.

Marts would not comment on whether the withdrawal was a result of the campaign to stop the plan.

"I think it's just too much of a distraction from the process, and that's the only comment I'm going to make," Marts said.

Planning Director Brian Rose commented on Marts' withdrawal from the committee.

"It's sad that it got to this point," Rose said. "People who were trying to do good for this town basically got bombarded with comments that they were doing unethical things. How are we going to get anything done if we're going to get bombarded with negativity?"

At both the ad hoc committee meeting and the Board of Selectmen meeting the previous evening, several Pinardville residents expressed concern over issues such as eminent domain and the acceptance of the grant itself, which some believe is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and will force the town to add low-income housing to Goffstown.

State Rep. John Burt urged the Board of Selectmen on Monday to kill the entire plan.

Greg Carson, field officer for HUD in Manchester, was present at both meetings and spoke about HUD's role in the project.

At Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting, Carson said the grant money was given by HUD to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, which in turn provided grants to individual towns.

"The town did not get a grant from HUD," Carson said. "I wanted to be sure that people are not attributing some onerous requirements on the part of HUD."

Collis Adams, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, assured residents that no land will be taken if Plan Pinardville becomes a reality.

"There will be no taking land by eminent domain," he said. "None. Period. Zero."

Selectmen said one goal of the board was to increase commercial development in town to reduce residents' taxes, and that the plan should not include increasing housing density or reference residential areas unless they abut commercial zones.

"I think our safest plan possible is to let this play out and then say, thank you, but no thank you," Adams said.

No motion was made to dismantle the committee.

"Some residents expressed continued concern about the plan, which has yet to be finalized but is expected to be heard by the Planning Board on Sept. 12.

"Take this whole thing and shove it somewhere," said Gerald Aubin. "Let's get rid of this and do things like we did them before."

Resident Gail Labrecque, who spoke in favor of the plan, said some changes were in order that could be implemented over time that would benefit the entire Goffstown community.

"If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got," she said.

The ad hoc committee is expected to complete its draft of the plan Aug. 27 and forward it to the Planning Board to be discussed at its Sept. 12 meeting.

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