Unamended Feasibility Study Article Moves to March Ballot

Warrant Article 10, or the Circumferential Highway (officially Hudson Boulevard) proposal, brought a number of speakers to the mic at the Feb. 3 Deliberative Session.
The Article proposes a $1,000,375 study to assess the feasibility of the decades-old highway plan, with the town of Hudson responsible for $200,075 of that cost.
“The study will look at Lowell Road to Route 111 segment of the proposed highway to determine if it is environmentally and economically feasible to move forward,” said Selectman, Dillon Dumont. “The Board of Selectmen put this forward to the voters to give you guys a choice.”
Article 10 was not recommended by the Budget Committee.
“I rise against this Warrant Article, my back of map, napkin math states that we’re looking at, if all the Warrant Articles are approved, a 14% increase in our town taxes this year,” said Alex Woodward of 14 Pasture Drive. “To me, a feasibility study should be the back of the napkin.”
Town officials were unable to confirm Woodard’s numbers.
James Crowley of 4 Fairway Drive expressed his opposition by trying to amend Warrant Article 10 by changing the appropriate sum for the study to $0, setting off a new debate over whether such a move was appropriate.
“I’m sure everyone has their opinions concerning traffic, future development impacts in Hudson, and environmental issues. I want you to understand there are other issues that need to be considered,” said Crowley.
He asked why Hudson should cover any part of a study he saw as a “regional impact transportation project.”
“What’s the rush to spend tax dollars on something that’s been thought about for decades?” he asked. “Why not get an updated March voter consensus first to gauge the current, overall compelling desire to proceed with a preliminary design before committing Hudson tax dollars?”
Despite extensive skepticism for the feasibility study, several residents questioned whether the zero-funding amendment would strip Hudson voters of their opinion.
“As far as the amendment goes, I think that it’s fair that the voters decide that in March and not to deliberately zero out a Warrant Article, that basically makes it null and void,” said Rich Weissgarber of 21 Flying Rock Road.
“To change this to a zero-dollar value renders this Article moot, and it takes away the voice of everybody in town,” said Doreen Stickney of 14 McKinney Drive. “You don’t solve a puzzle by taking away some of the pieces!”
Budget Committee member, Shawn Jasper, also challenged the amendment, saying opponents of Article 10 expressed “inaccuracies” in some of their criticism.
“The feasibility has got to be how this can wind through the wetlands and how this can be mitigated. The voters need to determine this,” said Jasper. “If this town is not willing to put some money into it, I can guarantee you that the other reps and senators of this state are going to say ‘no’ to any more help.”
Others reiterated their support for the zero amendment.
“It’s common knowledge that when these kinds of projects are engaged, it creates induced traffic, it doesn’t alleviate traffic, it creates more traffic in the ensuing development,” Dean Sakati of 11 Fairway Drive stated.
To clarify several issues, Town Engineer, Elvis Dhima, said the claim that the Hudson Boulevard project would create more traffic is “just not true” and that the study would include “an engineering, preliminary plan.”
Hudson residents at the Deliberative Session voted the zero amendment, a similar one-dollar amendment, and an attempt to fund the study from the unassigned general fund balance down.
The amendments failed and Article 10 will appear on the March ballot under its original wording.

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