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Viewpoint

Watch out for zoning amendments

To the voters of the town of Peterborough:

At the 2014 Town Meeting of Peterborough to be held on Tuesday, May 13, voters will be asked to vote on the 11 zoning amendments proposed by the Peterborough Planning Board and three amendments proposed by private individuals. All of these proposed amendments were subject to various public hearings held by the Planning Board over the past seven or eight months or even earlier. These amendments, if approved by Peterborough voters, will become part of the zoning law of the town of Peterborough.

Do you, voters, know what changes these zoning amendments will make to Peterborough’s present zoning law? There is a great deal of technical information to digest.

I am particularly opposed to the second zoning amendment, Article 2 B entitled, “Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone,” an umbrella zone which could affect all real estate located in the Family District and the General Residence District on town sewer. This particular amendment has three pages of small print and six additional pages of appendix. This appendix will serve as a reference for the Planning Board and the code enforcement officer in the processing of any application under the “Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone.” This amendment reduces lot sizes to less than one-quarter acre in the Family District and less than one-eighth of an acre in the General Residence District, and the setback can be reduced to 10 feet.

At the public hearing held on Oct. 21, 2013, the Planning Board stated that this amendment would involve 115 total properties, 68 of which involve “constrained parcels” and 47 of which involved “unconstrained parcels.” (You need to read the fine print and see the map to know what that means.)

This amendment was originally proposed to apply to real estate within 1 mile of the Town House. This meant it would apply to Cheney Avenue — where I live — Kaufmann Drive and streets in the Family District. Strong objections at a previous public hearing resulted in the Planning Board modifying the amendment to apply only to areas within one half-mile of the Town House. This excluded Cheney Avenue and related streets. I believe the voters who will be affected by this proposed amendment will object as much as I did when Cheney Avenue was included. I recommend you vote “No.”

The first zoning amendment, Article 2 A reads, “To delete §245-26 Open Space Residential Development and replace it with §245-26 Innovative Subdivision Design.” This amendment needs further consideration and review by the residents of Peterborough. This amendment would require all subdivisions of lots over 10 acres in the Rural District to apply the “Innovative Subdivision Design” approach, except for those that are exempt as set forth in the ordinance. The amendment has eight pages of small print. In my opinion, you should vote “No” on Zoning Amendment 2 A.

Please consider Zoning Amendment 2 N submitted by citizen petition, and you will see it is almost identical to Zoning Amendment 2 A, but makes the amendment voluntary rather than mandatory. This amendment 2 N needs your vote to protect the interests of owners of large plots of land in Peterborough, that is lots over 10 acres in size.

The Peterborough Planning Board will host a public information session on the proposed Zoning Amendments at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in the Town House. Please come to that session and learn more about what actually is being proposed for changes to the Peterborough Zoning Ordinance.

Richard R. Fernald lives in Peterborough.

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