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Workforce housing project gets preliminary review

Complete final application expected in September

July 16, 2009
WOLFEBORO — On July 7, the Eastern Lakes Region Housing Coalition (ELRHC) came before the Wolfeboro Planning Board for a pre-application discussion of the proposed Harriman Hill development off of Pine Hill Road (Route 109A).

At least 20 citizens, primarily residents of Birch Hill Estates, an association of 106 manufactured homes that abuts the Harriman Hill property, gathered early in the library meeting room. The crowd gradually built up to near capacity.

Town Planner Rob Houseman explained at the outset that the application was not yet complete. The purpose of the group's appearance before the board was to present specific design and engineering information to the board and address technical questions. Abutters were notified, but public input is reserved for the public hearing on the complete application, which is expected in September.

Civil engineer Erin Reardon of Nobis Engineering addressed the planning board. She said the intention was to cluster the residences in the center of the heavily-wooded 35-acre site, which is located off of Route 109A beyond the Huggins Street Fair Collection Barns. The goal was to leave 100 feet of undisturbed forest around the property boundary.

A conservation easement, which would be overseen by the Wolfeboro Conservation Commission, is also planned to preserve a section of the land for nature trails.

The approved 68 units in duplex, triplex, and quad arrangements of varying square footage will be constructed in phases, beginning with 24 rental units in phase I, 24 in phase II and 20 individually-owned units in phase III. The decision to build rental units first was the result of a market study commissioned by ELRHC in August 2008, which determined that rental housing is currently the greater need.

Applicants for rental housing must have an income of $30,000 to $36,000 (60 percent of median income) and applicants to own a unit must have an income of $61,000 to $74,000 (120 percent of median income).

Reardon described the sewer system as a low pressure design that avoids infiltration problems by using tanks to collect and remove solids and sending only effluent through the system. Water quality will meet state standards, and utilities will be underground. Lighting standards will go along with Wolfeboro's Dark Sky Ordinance, which requires light to be directed down and away from neighbors.

It appears that a traffic study will not be necessary, as the Department of Transportation (DOT) says that an assessment of daily and peak traffic counts on and off Route 109A shows them to be below the numbers that would demand such a study.

Planning board member Chris Franson raised the question of whether the planning board should undertake a traffic study anyway, but member Jennifer Haskell suggested that the board first acquire specific information from the DOT, warning that a traffic study can be a long, involved process. The board agreed to take that course.

Member Richard O'Donnell suggested to Reardon that the aesthetics of the site, especially the parking areas, demand extra care and asked for particulars on the type of screening planned. She noted that the buildings would be situated so that no bedrooms would face the parking areas. O'Donnell was concerned too that when cars come in and out, the lights not disturb residents.

Parking plans allow for two parking spaces per unit, with eight extra for visitors and handicap-accessible parking. Vice Chair Stacie Pope and Franson both asked for clarification, expressing concern that there will be enough spots to accommodate visitors during peak times, such as holidays.

O'Donnell wanted to know how closely design standards would be followed and what exterior materials were planned. He was told that most of the appliances would be Energy Star rated and that the architects are pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, a green building rating system. Fiber cement and clapboards are under consideration for exteriors.

ELRHC will be seeking various permits in the weeks ahead. Reardon encouraged a site visit at some point with planning board and conservation commission members before or after the formal application in September.

In other business, the planning board approved the Board of Selectmen's request to sell a strip of frontage along Forest Road across from Carry Beach to dispose of unneeded land and bring the lots behind it into closer conformity with current zoning regulations.

The board also approved the gift of approximately 338 square feet of land adjacent to the water tower located on the Kingswood campus and within the fencing, from the Governor Wentworth Regional School District.

The Kingswood Youth Center made a formal submission for a two lot subdivision, which passed after a presentation and discussion with the Center's surveyor Randy Tetreault.

The next planning board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library.

Martin Lord Osman
Tilton School
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