Petition article seeks to shrink lot sizes in Dublin’s rural zone

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/30/2022 9:42:02 AM

Dublin residents will vote in March on whether to shrink the required lot sizes in the rural zone, after the submission of a petition zoning amendment submitted by members of the Planning Board.

Planning Board alternate Neil Sandford and Vice Chair Steve Baldwin were among those who collected 117 signatures – well exceeding the 25 required – to submit the article for the ballot.

“The demographics for younger families in Dublin is going down, down, down, all the time,” Sandford said. “There is a need to make it a little more affordable for younger families to be able to move to Dublin. The master plan has recognized that four acres [in the rural zone] is a hindrance to that.”

Baldwin agreed that there needs to be some changes implemented that make living in town more affordable, and now, with many people facing hardships due to rising costs of living, is the time to address it.

“Economic times are so hard right now, and Dublin doesn’t have any plans for the future for growing our town in a forward manner,” Baldwin said. “That’s my party line. I want to grow Dublin in a way that’s good for everyone. Right now, some folks don’t have the means to live in Dublin.”

The petition itself said the lack of young families moving to Dublin “has negatively impacted the vibrancy of our town.”

The petition notes that the smaller lot sizes are not out of character with how much of the town is already laid out.

“About forty percent of the present homes in Dublin are on lots under four acres, and they are clearly part of Dublin’s present character. The Master Plan states, ‘To date, no such affordable units have been built, likely due to relatively higher costs of land here...’ And the town records show that no significant developments have been built since the four-acre minimum in the Rural Zone was adopted,” the petition reads.

Though some members of the Planning Board were involved in the drafting of the petition or signed it, Sandford said there has been hesitancy on the board’s part to put forth an article addressing lot sizes. He said the fact that volunteers were able to gather 117 signatures within two days is a sign that there is a faction in town that is ready for this change.

“I certainly respect those that may oppose this, but I think an issue like this should be decided by the people. I know there are some [Planning Board] members that oppose it, and I know they’re seeking to do what’s best for the town, but I am also seeking to do what is best for the town,” Sandford said. “The Planning Board has been talking about doing things to make more affordable housing, but this is something we already know is going to help. This isn’t the only thing, but there is a better chance that families could afford a two-acre piece.”

Sandford said there is still work to do in other areas in town, including the Village District, and said he supported continuing that conversation. The town has applied for a grant to receive consulting services from the regional planning commission, specifically to look at the town’s zoning, and Sandford said he supports that process still going forward.

“I’m all for making the Village District better, that is also needed, but this is a step in the right direction for those that don’t want to live in the village, but want to build something a little more affordable,” Sandford said.

A petition zoning article is required to undergo a public hearing process, as are all potential zoning amendments, but the language of the amendment may not be changed and must go on the ballot as written.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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