At the November 8, 2017 Planning Board (PB) meeting, the PB okayed the writing of several amendments to Chapter 133 Henniker Zoning Regulations.
Two of these amendments will have significant impact;
I.) The Planning Board has authorized the part time planning consultant to construct a warrant article that will amend the Older Person Housing Ordinance so higher density development will be allowed, ‘basically everywhere.’ (see video below)
In 2016, Henniker approved higher density development in the Commercial Village and Residential Village Proper Districts only:
The amendment as adopted in 2016 ((133-20 B) includes several standards that ‘shall be allowed in the RV or CV Zoning Districts’. Most importantly are the following:
- Dwelling unit density shall not exceed 8 units per acre.
Adequate on-site off-street parking shall be provided of at least 1.5 spaces per unit. In addition, municipal water, and sewage shall be provided.
The minimum lot area shall be1 and the lot shall have at least 75
feet of Frontage on a public road.
No more than seventy (70%) percent of the tract may be covered by impermeable
surfaces; 30% of the lot shall be open space not including wetlands or slopes over 25%.
Increased density housing does make sense in the downtown zoning districts. Close proximity to emergency services (short emergency response times), paved road access with good street lighting and sewer and water line hook-ups are all primary selling points for such projects.
However, what is very concerning to OnlyHennikerBruce (OHB) is the lack of questioning by the Planning Board members of statements being made by the town’s planning consultant?
Planning consultant, Mr. Fougere actually mentions (see video above @1:20) that the greatest impact is increased ambulance calls. The Rural Residential and Residential Neighborhood Zoning districts are not in close proximity to emergency services. In fact the increased emergency response times in these two zones have been a consideration in other proposed projects.
Many of the access roads in these two districts are not paved. Will the roads in these two districts need to be up-graded to withstand the increased ambulance calls and the increased traffic created by high density housing?
Will we need improve our ambulance service and hire more full time paramedics if such a project comes to town?
The town’s planning consultant, Mr. Fougere, states (@ 0.58 to 1:17) that he works on these types of projects all over the state (he mentions one in Greenland, NH on the coast), they are ‘money makers’, they ‘sell like hot cakes’ and they are ‘all gravy’ to the towns… yet no one on the PB question a thing!
OHB researched Adult Living in New Hampshire and found the best new adult living projects are;
- Amherst – Connor Court
- Atkinson – Sawmill Ridge
- Derry: Bunker Estates
- Durham: Riverside Landing
- Exeter: The Village at Sterling Hill
- Kingston: Kings Landings
- Londonderry: Hickory Woods
- New in Brentwood: River’s Edge
Most of these high density ‘adult living’ housing projects are South of Rte. 101 and East of Interstate 93. Most are not in a rural residential settings. Most are close to the Mass. border or near the sea coast.
None are in the rolling foothills sections of the state.
All have a higher Median Household Income than Henniker.
Furthermore, an additional amendment being prepared calls for downsizing the lot size requirement for sewer and water hook-up downtown. Current zoning;
Does this pave the way for future high density development in the downtown to be constructed on well and septic? Does the amendment have language that drops the required (see 133-B-2 above) that high density housing to be built on water and sewer as originally adopted??
The town’s planning consultant did not provide information to the Planning Board about the impact of decreasing the number of new sewer and water users. And, the Planning Board members never asked.
None of the Planning Board members in the room at the time of this discussion are on town sewer and water. Only the Select Board Representative, Tia Hooper, is on the system!
Water rates/bills went up substantially this past summer. A new sewer rate/bill was just approved by the Board of Selectman!
For all of us who are on the water and sewer system, it is extremely important that the requirement for connection to these two systems remains in place for all new downtown construction. Additional customers on these two systems will help mitigate the current and future increase in water and sewer rates!
OHB is encouraging everyone to please pay close attention to the final draft of the warrant and attend the Public Hearings regarding these matters.
Keep informed by visiting Henniker’s web page as often as possible.
OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..
“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”