Planners discuss proposed zoning amendments


by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
November 12, 2013
ALTON — The Alton Planning Board discussed the eight proposed zoning amendments during a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

Prior to discussion of the eight amendments, the board approved pushing public input to the next meeting on Nov. 20, thus making the meeting a work session with no public input.

Steve Whitman, of Jeffrey Taylor & Associates, discussed the inclusionary zoning ordinance for workforce housing. He went through the documents, which included definitions that weren't previously included.

Loring Carr questioned the formula that the New Hampshire House Finance Authority (NHHFA) used to calculate how someone qualified for workforce housing. Carr questioned the formula because it used a five percent down payment to calculate the cost of purchasing a house.

He felt the board should consider using a formula that uses 20 percent as the down payment. Dave Hussey wasn't sure if the planning board could regulate how big a down payment is required.

The board agreed to delete language in the amendment that referred to the "purchase price recommendations" and Carr was pleased with this change and felt it addressed the issue.

Whitman said that third parties would be used for income verification on workforce housing, with one option being the NHHFA. Chairman Dave Collier asked that Whitman looked into third party options and see what other options could be used for a formula.

Tom Hoopes said that there are other options for third parties that the town could use.

The board discussed putting a cap on the square footage of a new home at 1,300 square feet. Paul Monzione felt the size requirement wouldn't be needed. The houses will be restricted by having to fall under the $249,000 price to qualify as workforce housing.

The board discussed the amendment regarding RVs for a period of no longer than six months. After an RV is located in one location for more than 10 days, a permit is required under the new regulation.

The third amendment discussed presents new definitions for a driveway, which serves less than three dwelling units, a street, which serves three or more dwelling units and seasonal use, which is defined between May 1 and Oct. 31.

The fourth amendment discussed deals with bunkhouses. There was some discussion about having language regarding seasonal use, but John Dever, the building inspector, felt there are plenty of restrictions in the amendment to address this issue.

The board discussed an amendment regarding non-habitable structures as principle buildings on a lot. This article allows for a shed up to 240 square feet to be built on a lot, a barn is allowed for agricultural use, and a garage can be built through special exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The board discussed a new stormwater management section. This amendment also includes reference material titled Erosion Control & Stormwater Management for Homeowners & Contractors.

Raymond Howard questioned if tree removal would be affected by this amendment. Ken McWilliams, the town planner, said the amendment is in regards to the construction of buildings and wouldn't address timber cutting. Bill Curtin suggested the board could look at amending forestry guidelines in the future.

The board reviewed the amendment that adds the Equitable Waiver of Dimensional Requirements to the roles of the ZBA. This is provided directly from the state standards.

The last amendment discussed to allow for uses other than a single family dwelling through a special exception rather than a variance in the Aquifer Protection Overlay District.

After the discussion of the amendments, Hussey talked about the importance of providing the town protection from going to court, especially in the case of workforce housing.

Hoopes talked about misinformation that has been given out stating that the government would be developing workforce housing.

Collier pointed out that with no regulations a developer could come in and do whatever they want.

The board discussed the ballot and Monzione suggested that the amendment regarding workforce housing should include the language "Assure local control regarding workforce housing in the town of Alton." Other members of the board felt this language was more appropriate.

The next meeting regarding the above amendments will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. at the Alton Town Hall, and public input will be welcomed.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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