I have searched through the minutes, but I cannot find an explaination for the high signature thresholds for petitions/referrendum. (500/1250). This seems much higher then other towns. Londonderry uses 1%/5% of the previous registered voters, for example. If you beleive this high threshold is necessary, you will need to get some info out the the public.

The number of signatures issue was discussed and debated on several occasions, at length and with some passion. The Commission began by reviewing the thresholds in other charter communities and attendance at the polls and deliberative sessions and discerned that there were a couple of common methods:
A percentage of the total number of registered voters
A percentage of the voters who voted in the last municipal election
A definitive number.
However, the issue is deeper than mere numbers. The Commission expanded the size of the governing body to offer the opportunity for wider community participation by bringing a wider range of sentiments, ideas, experiences and viewpoints to the Council. The Commission consciously made the decision to have them elected at-large, so that they had to run before the whole town and not a pocket of the community. They would have to consider the needs and opinions of the whole town, not such the neighborhood that elected them. Since their incumbency depended on serving the needs of the community, they will be responsive to those needs or get bounced from office. At-large representation also reduced the ability of a person to monopolize the seat on the Council because they may pander to the interests of an insular minority rather than consider and act on the interests of the entire community.
The Commission felt that the wider representation would be responsive to the concerns of the community. The Council as the governing body would also permit more timely action by not having to wait until April to put a measure before the voters. This should encourage the Council to take action because they can and don't have to wait for April.
The Commission tried to further ensure openness and access by requiring certain procedures for the adoption of ordinances and the adoption of procedures and rules that would require the Council to hear the voters. Any Councilor may propose an ordinance at any time. The Commission feels that peer and community pressure would encourage the Council to take up these concerns and act on them. The Charter requires the Council to vote on matters and, beginning with the Group petition (only 50 signatures), take definitive action. The Charter also allows the Council to move ANY measure to the ballot for voter action. The Initiative and Referendum petitions are seen by the Commission as final steps in this mosaic, not as first steps. Right now a lot of opponents of this see it as a first step because of the need to garner 25 signatures to put ANY question before the voters.
The Commission also wanted to shorten the ballot to encourage more participation at the polls. The Commission was cognizant of the voters' frustration with placement of articles on the warrant which could not be implemented because they were not legal or merely advisory. (Catch the discussion at this evening's school deliberative session regarding the withdrawal from the capital reserve fund for the sprinkler system and last night's discussion on tolls) The Commission was also cognizant of the frustration with nuisance or gadfly articles. (The article to require the Selectmen to designate the Bradford Woods condos as a residential customer to lower their cost for refuse removal. Clearly not possible, and a designation made by the hauler. And the article 28 years ago to require every property owner in town to have a hand gun for personal protection.) Therefore, the Commission felt that petitioners should have wide community support for their proposal. One of the reasons for this is that the community elected the Council to conduct the affairs of the town as their representatives and therefore, you are challenging the managers that you elected. Interestingly, the Attorney General's office and the Secretary of State's office concur with this analysis. It should take a fair number of voters to initiate or overturn the actions of their duly elected representatives.
Which brings me to the next consideration. With these factors in mind, the Commission looked at the numbers in each instance as they pertained to Merrimack (population 27,000 with over 17,000 registered voters). Over 8400 voters voted in the last municipal election. The average participation at the polls for the last five years has been around 3700. However, many communities use high thresholds, typically ten and twenty percent. In every instance the threshold for referendum petitions is higher than initiative petitions because you are attempting to overturn the actions of a duly elected body. Having a low threshold would likely encourage an insular minority to try to overturn the actions of a body that was elected by many more votes than the petition requirement. Then why have a governing body? It would create popularity contests rather than governance. It would perpetuate the type of proposals that have clogged the warrants in past years.
The Commission decided that a percentage of the total voters was just too high a standard. This left the last two methodologies.
Given the concerns about council members not listening or proposing unpopular or ill conceived actions, the Commission intends the initiative and referendum processes to be a goad to take action at the Council level or risk a petition drive that would cost a lot of money ($10K at a minimum for the election alone) and might jeopardize their incumbency.
So the Commission began their discussion with percentages and definitive numbers at fairly high levels, around 1250 and 2000, respectively. Higher and lower numbers were proposed. In the end, it came down to the numbers in the charter as a consensus of the Commission. Remember, that anything moved to the Charter had to have two more votes than a simple majority (6 or 5 depending on the number of commissioners attending.) The subject was revisited at least two more time after initial adoption.
The initiative and referendum processes are rarely used in Charter communities in NH because the Council takes action before the process gets to the point of gathering signatures. There is no doubt in our minds that the zoning change at Exit 10 would have generated enough concern to garner the 1250 signatures required to overturn an action of the Council.
Finally, if the voters feel that this is too high or too low (not likely) a threshold, they can amend the Charter.
I trust that this gives you the information that you were seeking. Please get back to us if you have any more questions or concerns.