Municipal Affairs: 1940 - 1949

Chapter 12 -- Part 6

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Voted to instruct the Zoning and Planning Committee to "prepare and present a simple set of zoning regulations" to the 1941 town meeting. Voted to place "Welcome" and "Come Back" signs on Lafayette Road, Exeter Road, and Ocean Boulevard. State Representative Charles Francis Adams, long an ardent promoter of developing the marshes, placed in the warrant an article asking for municipal development of the marshes and called for the formation of a committee to plan and prepare costs. Apparently, prior to the meeting, Adams had made what some people called "derogatory remarks" about the Beach, including the Precinct, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Development Council. In place of his article, the meeting adopted a resolution expressing confidence in the healthy conditions of Hampton Beach and praising the Precinct and the Chamber for their promotional efforts.


Voted $7,000 to buy a new fire engine. Voted to accept the proposed Hobbs Road as a public highway provided the Estate of Warren Hobbs built the road. Accepted the report of the Zoning Committee and instructed the members to continue to prepare proposed zoning regulations and to report to the next annual meeting. Voted to appoint a committee of three to study the various town arrangements with the suppliers of water, gas, and electricity; to compare Hampton's rates with those in other towns; and to see if there were better ways for the Town to receive these services.


With World War II underway, this annual meeting (and those in the next three years) was brief, with only 11 warrant articles, most of them for routine matters. The Planning Board report was accepted with the committee's recommendation that zoning regulations be delayed until the future, "after we have successfully dealt with the more important problem such as defeating Hitler and his yellow henchmen, the laps." During the next three years, with building restricted due to the war, the valuation of town property increased only slightly, and the budget expenses declined each year until 1946.


Voted $2,500 for a chlorine machine for the sewer department. Voted again to leave zoning until after the war. Voted to extend the sewer to Nudd Terrace. Voted a 10 percent increase in the pay of town officers, police, and firefighters. A special town meeting voted to require taxis to obtain a $25 permit from the Town.


Voted $10,000 to purchase land on Ashworth Avenue for a parking lot and space for a new police station. Despite the war, the Beach was booming, because, while rationing restricted long automobile trips, the Beach was near enough to the large cities of the Merrimack Valley and to the men stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Some of the largest crowds in history -- considering the number of rental rooms available -- were at the Beach during the war years. Voted to rescind the action against preparing zoning regulations until after the war. Voted $3,000 for a sewer on Island Path. The fiscal year was changed to the calendar year, ending with December 31.


Voted another $10,000 to continue Ashworth Avenue land purchases. The article also allowed some of the money to be used for a gravel pit, necessary for the fill to be used in creating a parking lot in the marsh. Voted by ballot to support United States membership in a general system of international cooperation, such as proposed at the Dumbarton Oaks conference. (This country had not joined the League of Nations after World War I, and many people believed our absence from the league contributed to World War II.) The Planning Board made another zoning report, and again the Town decided to place it on file until the future. Voted to establish a "Council on Postwar Planning" in Hampton to combine all of the various plans for postwar Hampton into one coordinated plan.


Voted $2,500 for a World War II honor roll. In place of a motion to raise another $10,000 for the Beach parking lot, a substitute motion passed, raising $13,000, creating a Hampton Parking Authority and providing for a traffic and parking study in the summer of 1946. Tabled an article to instruct the Planning Board to prepare a zoning ordinance and raise $2,000 to hire a planner. Voted to record the Town's opposition to a horse racing track in the seacoast (which was under consideration in North Hampton), and to appoint a committee to meet with the Racing Commission. An extensive report was accepted from the Council on Postwar Planning.


Voted to authorize the selectmen to take legal action to determine the ownership of the land at the fish houses. Voted to authorize the selectmen to make plans for extending the sewer system to the main part of town. Indefinitely postponed a $7,500 appropriation to repair the Beach bandstand and to provide benches adjacent to it. Passed a resolution opposing a State bill to construct a seacoast toll road. In part the resolution said, "Competent evidence establishes the fact that a toll road may be very harmful to the economy of the State, to our Seacoast Section, and to the several communities of this region...." By a vote of 590-235, the meeting approved Sunday sports at Tuck Field.


Voted to raise $25,000 for repairs of the Beach sewer trunk lines and for Beach sewer expansion. Voted 197-2 in favor of a $200,000 bond issue to enlarge the sewage-treatment plant and to expand the sewer system to the Village, to raise the sewer entrance fee from $50 to $100 (exempting churches from any fee), and to require every building to connect to the sewer. At a June special town meeting, $50,000 was appropriated to cover additional sewer costs. The proposed zoning ordinance was again postponed for one year, with the requirement that it be voted upon by Australian ballot. While Hampton's developers wanted sewers to make development easier, they were more reluctant to accept zoning regulations, which made development more difficult and costly. Voted to have the selectmen investigate the possibility of buying the Hampton Water Works Company. Passed a motion asking selectmen to consider holding town meeting in the evenings or on Saturday. Dutch elm disease was becoming common, but an article to raise $500 to protect Hampton's historic and famous elm


Voted to approve a zoning ordinance. Voted $500 to begin the Christmas lighting program. Voted to accept Ann's Terrace and Norton Road, the first of the postwar housing developments. A committee reported that the water company was not for sale, but the meeting voted to have the selectmen pursue the issue for another year. On March 19, fire destroyed the town hall, and residents began the process of replacing the structure, an effort that still has not been adequately resolved. At an April special town meeting, voters appointed a study committee, which responded at a June meeting with two articles. One called for a $250,000 building with an auditorium-gymnasium, and the other article proposed a $135,000 building without the auditorium. Selectman George Sumner presented the first article, then responded to questions "at some length [asked] by Mr. Ernest Underwood, after which Mr. Walker gave a talk in opposition to the new building; also he was opposed to spending $250,000 at this time. Others were opposed for different reasons, some of which were that we have an adequate building now, also because of the high cost of material, also it would require a caretaker at a cost of $3,000 or $4,000 per year. Others thought we should use money for schools first." Both articles were indefinitely postponed, but the building committee was given a rising vote of thanks. The selectmen then used $10,000 of the insurance money to build a "temporary" building, which was built around the town vault -- all that remained from the old town hall. With later additions, the temporary building is still in use. This was Elroy G. Shaw's last year as selectman. He was first elected to office in 1916 and had served continuously since 1931.
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