Peterborough

Ward wins Select Board seat; budget and infill pass, Innovative Subdivision fails

  • Peterborough voters approved a $12.4 million operating budget and chose Tyler Ward as their new Select Board member on Tuesday.
  • Peterborough voters approved a $12.4 million operating budget and chose Tyler Ward as their new Select Board member on Tuesday.
  • Peterborough voters approved a $12.4 million operating budget and chose Tyler Ward as their new Select Board member on Tuesday.
  • Peterborough voters approved a $12.4 million operating budget and chose Tyler Ward as their new Select Board member on Tuesday.
  • Peterborough voters approved a $12.4 million operating budget and chose Tyler Ward as their new Select Board member on Tuesday.
  • Peterborough voters approved a $12.4 million operating budget and chose Tyler Ward as their new Select Board member on Tuesday.

PETERBOROUGH — Voters overwhelmingly approved a $12.4 million town operating budget at the polls on Tuesday, while solidly rejecting both zoning amendment proposals that would have required landowners to go through a review process with the Planning Board for many developments in the rural district.

Tyler Ward was elected to the Select Board to fill the seat of Joe Byk, who chose not to run for re-election. Ward, who is chair of the Peterborough Heritage Commission, beat Jack Burnett by a tally of 570 to 357. Ward, who is in his early 40s, campaigned “as a member of Peterborough’s younger generation” saying he hoped to focus on providing well-paying jobs and affordable housing promote environmental stewardship and focus on communications and transparent, effective government.

The operating budget, which was up less than one percent, drew little discussion at the town’s Deliberative Session in April. It was approved Tuesday by a vote of 738 to 158.

Voters rejected both versions of an Innovative Subdivision zoning amendment that were on the ballot.

The Planning Board had submitted a proposal that would have required landowners proposing a subdivision of more than 10 acres in the rural district to meet with the Planning Board prior to submitting plans. The proposal called for guidelines that would have allowed houses to be built on smaller lots than are allowed under conventional zoning and would require 50 percent of the land to be designated as open space. Exemptions were proposed for subdivisions of fewer than three lots or for cases where lots would be more than 10 acres. Compliance with the ordinance would have been mandatory in the rural district.

An alternative proposal, submitted by petition, was identical to the Planning Board ordinance except that it would have made the process voluntary in the rural district.

During informational meetings on the amendments, some residents said the proposal would reduce the value of land in the rural district.

The Planning Board’s proposal lost, 394 Yes to 485 No. The petition article to have the proposal be voluntary lost by an even larger margin, 345 Yes to 535 No.

“There was a lot of confusion of what was proposed,” said Planning Board Chair Ivy Vann on Wednesday. “We were asking people to come to the Planning Board before they spend money on plans and drawings and see what the options are. We didn’t want the default for the rural district to be cutting everything up into a three-acre lots. That’s not a good development model.”

Vann, who was re-elected to a seat on the Planning Board, said she hoped the board would revisit the issue of how to regulate rural district development.

“I think a lot of people weren’t clear how this might affect them,” she said. “The question is, does the town feels it’s all right for landowners to have more restrictions if it’s better for the town as a whole?”

Voters did approve a zoning amendment to allow infill development in neighborhoods near the center of town, by a vote of 482 to 382.

“I’m delighted that the infill ordinance passed,” Vann said. “We’ve been talking about it for more than eight years now. It’s a logical way for Peterborough to grow in the center of town, where we want to see growth.”

The ordinance will allow additional dwelling units on larger lots within a clearly defined zone, which would include Concord Street to the intersection of Sand Hill Road, the mostly residential sections of Summer Street, High Street, MacDowell Road and Union Street, Pine Street from Granite Street to near the Cheney Avenue intersection, Grove Street south to Route 202, and the residential neighborhood between Grove Street and Elm Street. Within the overlay zone, single- or two-family dwellings could be built on a 5,000-square-foot lot in the General Residence District or a 10,000-square-foot lot in the Family District.

Resident Dick Fernald, who had criticized the ordinance at public hearings, said he was disappointed by the vote.

“I call it an umbrella zone,” Fernald said on Wednesday. “It applies right over our two most restrictive districts. It could be quite a change and most voters have no idea what it could change.”

Fernald said voters were probably unfamiliar with how the ordinance could potentially impact the neighborhoods.

“The Plannng Board has the responsibility to draft these articles, but they have an obligation to explain them as well,” he said. “The explanation, in this case, was terrible and most of the public hearings were held several months before the vote.”

Voters supported a petition amendment calling for a conditional use process that would allow a variety of options, such as farm to table events, bed-and-breakfasts, wedding receptions and retailing, on town farms. The amendment, which passed by a vote of 470 to 376, refers to an Agricultural Business Enterprise Zone, which does not exist, and Planning Board members said before the vote that the amendment would not be enforceable.

“I’m really sorry that it passed,” Vann said. “We did not see it in time to help create an ordinance that would be workable.”

She said the Planning Board expects to work with supporters of the idea to draft an replacement ordinance for next year.

“I read the vote as a sign of support for local agriculture,” Vann said.

Voters approved nine other zoning amendments recommended by the Planning Board and one petition amendment, which called for rezoning a parcel of land on Old Street Road into the Monadnock Community Health Care District.

A petition article calling on the state legislature to direct Congress to support a Constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decision was approved by a margin of 733 to 158.

In the three-person race for two Planning Board seats, incumbent Audrey Cass was the top vote-getter, with 553 supporters. Vann was re-elected with 473 votes, while Loretta Laurenitis got 430 votes.

In a four-person race for three seats on the Budget Committee, Ronnie McIntire, Ed Henault and Steven Jones were the winners, each with more than 500 votes. Herb Turner, the fourth candidate, got 252 votes.

The election drew 958 voters, slightly more than 20 percent of the 4,752 registered voters.

The Wednesday night open session of Town Meeting, where voters were to discuss replacing the Summer Street well and the possibility of building a parking lot behind the GAR Hall, took place after press deadline.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.