September 10, 2013ALTON — The Alton Zoning Amendment Committee held a meeting to discuss the workforce housing on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
Steve Whitman of Jeffrey Taylor and Associates reviewed the housing data in Alton regarding workforce housing.
Whitman reported that since 2005, 47 percent of the homes built in Alton fall under the workforce housing limit of $249,000.
The town is required to have more than 50 percent of its housing stock below $249,000 to fulfill the workforce housing requirements.
Whitman reported that the town is making efforts by providing the opportunity for accessory apartments in town. He reported that the town is falling short in the Rural Zone.
Whitman talked about the challenges of obtaining data for rental properties. Scott Williams suggested that he contact the University of New Hampshire to get data on rental properties.
Whitman reviewed questions regarding workforce housing and explained that it would be in the town's best interest to put pressure on the developer to show the need for workforce housing in the town.
Whitman explained that if the town wants to show that they meet their fair share of workforce housing they would also have to provide data for surrounding towns in Belknap County.
Whitman explained that the numbers are a moving target and it would be tough to consistently prove that the town is meeting its fair share.
Chair Paul Monzione questioned putting the burden on the town to show that they are meeting the fair share requirement.
Williams questioned the cost to the town to maintain the information regarding the housing stock.
Whitman reviewed price limits for housing stock and rental properties, and Loring Carr questioned how the numbers were calculated.
He said the data is provided by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.
Whitman explained how other towns have addressed the issue and said that most of the towns put the burden on the developer. He said a profit restriction can be put on a development and workforce isn't allowed on second homes.
Bill Curtin questioned getting an ordinance drafted for this year, and Williams said he doesn't want to see the town spend money.
Monzione spoke in favor of putting the burden with the developer. Whitman said he could work on drafting an ordinance that would put the burden with the developer.
Carr questioned spending the time to draft the regulation and who would come and sue the town.
"I don't know if we are better off letting them sue us," Carr said.
During public input, a suggestion was made to charge applicants for time members of the committee spend addressing the developers.
There was also discussion about the regulations in Wolfeboro. The connection of workforce housing to Granite State Futures and Agenda 21 was also introduced.
A question was raised about the connection between workforce housing and low income housing, and Whitman said that these are separate issues.
Phil Wittmann suggested that the law should be challenged and maybe Alton should be a leader in this challenge.
Monzione encouraged members of the committee to look at the regulations of Wolfeboro and Amherst in regards to workforce housing.
The committee will be meeting regarding this issue on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 5:45 p.m. at the Alton Town Hall. They will also meet on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 5:45 p.m. to discuss other zoning issues.
Tim Croes can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126