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Amendments may not be clear to all

To the editor:

I attended the April 21 Planning Board “Public Session” covering the 14 proposed zoning amendments. I was disappointed at the turnout, with only about 30 people present.

New Hampshire law states that it is the Planning Board’s duty to draft amendments to the zoning ordinance (except those offered by petition). However, it is also the Planning Board’s duty to adequately explain the amendments to the voters.

Amendments A and B are very long and complicated, and the Planning Board should have made a special effort to explain them to the voters. The public hearings on most of the 14 amendments took place long before the May 13 voting day.

For example, the hearing for Amendment B entitled “Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone” was held on Monday, October 21, 2013, almost seven months before the voting day. Even worse, the public notice for that hearing stated that the 6 p.m. public hearing would first consider the proposed construction of the new Catholic Church, and Amendment B would be held after the church hearing. When I arrived at 7 p.m., I learned that the Planning Board chairman had changed the agenda to hold the public hearing on Amendment B at 6 p.m. I missed most of that hearing.

In the compact part of town, Amendment B would allow lots as small as 10,000 square feet in the Family District (instead of the usual 40,000), and as small as 5,000 square feet acre in the General Residence District (instead of the usual 20,000). Amendment A would require anyone subdividing to use a cluster approach, if the person has more than 10 acres in the Rural District, or more than 5 acres anywhere else in town. If you don’t agree with these changes, or if you don’t understand the amendments, please vote NO.

Richard Fernald

Member of the Planning Board, 1962-1989, Chairman, 1967-1989


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