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Rockingham and Bellows Falls Merger Vote Deemed Void

A proposed merger between Rockingham and Bellows Falls is moving forward, despite allegations that it can’t, including a violation of a state statute.

The merger between the town and the incorporated village received a second set of public hearings this past Saturday and one resident raised a concern that the vote planned for Tuesday actually violates Vermont state law, in regards to the timing of the public hearings and the vote.

According to The Eagle Times, Bellows Falls resident Deborah Wright, for the second time mentioned specific state wording that says the last merger hearings should take place “no less than five days” before the actual voting date.

With only three days in between Saturday’s hearing and Tuesday’s vote, the vote is no longer legitimate, but Rockingham Selectboard could not change the date or cancel it, considering a warning was already posted. To be valid, the last public hearing would have needed to take place earlier than last Thursday.

Residents continue to both oppose and support the merger and town officials have expressed hope that residents will turn out to vote Tuesday, even though it is void, to at least garner concrete input on the plan.

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