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Housing requirements may mean more building in Gilford

May 06, 2009
New housing regulations may mean that Gilford and surrounding towns have to build in order to keep inside the law.

"We have to put something in our regulations for workforce housing," said John Ayer, director of Planning and Land Use, to the Planning Board on Monday. "Ben Frost is here to explain what it is, answer any questions and let us know what our options are for the future."

Frost, from the New Hampshire Housing Authority, explained that the workforce housing law is a result of codifying a court decision made in 1991. He added that some towns may not need to do anything and some towns may need to revamp. The new law says that both owner and renter occupied housing must be reasonably allowed in the municipality, and it specifically includes renter occupied multi-family housing.

Workforce housing means housing that is intended for sale and is affordable with an income of no more than 100 percent of the median income for a four-person household in the county. How much of this housing is needed will be determined for all of Belknap County. Frost explained that all of the data from the county and the towns in it will be consolidated to determine the demand for workforce housing and how much is needed. He also added that if they take it upon themselves to make any additions necessary the town would be able to retain more control.

"It will be less likely a developer will come along and build something you don't want," said Frost.

The town now has to study the housing available in Gilford, and the incomes of its residents. Frost said that the board has the ability to make long-term restrictions and the law allows the towns to retain control of how and where they build the housing if necessary. The concern behind the induction of the law is that New Hampshire's housing supply is unbalanced, Frost said. There is an inadequate supply to meet present and future demands. This has escalated housing costs, creating a situation where certain families can not afford to buy a house. The escalation has been occurring since around 1995.

"Essentially what it means is that the board will no longer be able to deny requests for qualified workforce housing," said Frost, "though towns are still able to protect their natural resources and determine where these buildings go."

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