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Author Topic: LT - Planning Board Adopts Updated Master Plan  (Read 876 times)
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« on: March 15, 2013, 12:16:59 PM »

From the Londonderry Times

Planning Board Adopts Updated Master Plan
Jay Hobson, Londonderry Times
The Planning Board has adopted an updated master plan that the Master Plan Steering Committee has spent nearly two years crafting. Master Plan Steering Committee Chairman Leitha Reilly and committee member Mike Speltz spoke to the Planning Board on Wednesday, March 6, at a continued public hearing on the document. The town’s master plan by state law must be updated every 10 years.
Planning Board member Chris Davies asked Reilly, who left her seat as a member of the Planning Board to present the document, if “the general feeling from the populace in Londonderry wanted to preserve things as they are. Is that a correct and accurate read of what you heard? Was that a dominant theme?”

“I wouldn’t say it was a dominant theme, it was one of many,” Reilly responded.
 Speltz said it was more accurate to say the town is “bifurcated. “There are those as you say that would like to see the town remain just as it is, and those that would like to see changes in the direction of more housing options, better transit, better ways to get around town without an automobile, more things to create a more holistic community,” Speltz said.
Speltz said the plan “rather cleverly” addressed that split in attitude by saying 80 percent of the town would be untouched and the remaining 20 percent would be planned. Davies said he liked that part that had targeted areas and asked if those areas would fall under form-based zoning, “where we would say this is what is permitted and this is what is not permitted?”
Reilly said “activity centers” are mentioned in the revised plan, and those areas “kind of take on their own character, where they are what surrounds them and the attributes that they have.”
 Reilly said when it comes to the execution, “form-based code is one tool that could be used.”
 According to the master plan, form-based coding “shifts the emphasis from use and instead looks to form and character as the primary organizing principles.”
“The plan isn’t saying that it has to be form-based code, it’s simply saying that the ordinances we have now in place, in those areas, would not permit you to do the things that we’ve envisioned for those areas,” Reilly said.
Reilly said the pictures were meant to illustrate what could be done and not necessarily what would be done because some people will look at the picture and say, ‘that’s not what I think it should look like.’
“The language supports the idea of what we were trying to encapsulate,” Reilly said.
 Davies said he still “couldn’t get my head around that Londonderry isn’t a place where folks with an average income can come to, there are still opportunities in town.” Davies said Woodmont Commons could bring opportunities for average income housing to town and the plan didn’t address that.
“We wanted to ensure throughout the process that there was something for everyone in Londonderry, so there are diversity of housing choices in the plan, and if that is achieved through Woodmont, great. At the end of the day, the planning board is the one who is going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no, we already have enough of that,’” said Reilly.
Planning Board member John Laferriere, referring to a chart in the plan that breaks down land use, said that Woodmont, at 600-plus acres, was significant “to say the least” and asked how much of Woodmont was incorporated in the chart and if it not, how much would the chart change if it were incorporated.
Reilly said Woodmont was in the 20 percent available development section of the chart and Laferriere asked, “then of that 20 percent, how much of it is Woodmont?” Speltz replied that the 20 percent represented about 4,000 acres, so it would be 600 acres out of 4,000 or about an eighth.
Laferriere asked if Woodmont fell under the new plan and Town Planner Cynthia May said that Woodmont fell under the old plan and current zoning ordinance. As a Planned Unit Development or PUD, Woodmont has its own master plan.
Laferriere asked the percentage of residents who had input in the Master Plan process, and Reilly said 400 people attended meetings over the course of the process and through a survey conducted by the University of New Hampshire, 500 were surveyed about the plan.
Board member Laura El-Azem said she think Londonderry has a terrific opportunity to draw on the young professional demographic and that there was no other place in southern New Hampshire that can draw on that demographic, with its disposable income.
Board member Maria Newman said she keeps hearing statistics that the population is aging and that young people are leaving, and she thinks there needs to be a way to draw them back. “It’s one thing when they leave to go to college and that’s expected, but wouldn’t it be nice that we would have some of these activity centers that would give them a reason to want to come back,” Newman said.
Laferriere said the “implementation committee” mentioned at the end of the master plan should be amended to read “planning board,” and resident Edward Combes asked why the board wanted to do away with the implementation committee. He was told that wasn’t meant to do away with implementation, but that the implementation would be handled by the planning board.
The board accepted the plan 9-0.

Glenn Douglas
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