Lyndeborough proposes wetland buffer, approval expirations among zoning changes

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/23/2023 1:59:04 PM
Modified: 1/23/2023 1:58:37 PM

Lyndeborough residents can expect to see eight potential zoning amendments on the ballot in March, including provisions to add a wetland buffer, adding an expiration date for variances and special exceptions and to define specific structures not allowed within property setbacks.

Following a public hearing Thursday, the Lyndeborough Planning Board approved all eight proposed amendments, and forwarded them to the ballot with only grammatical changes to the language.

Proposals include requiring a 50-foot buffer to protect wetlands in the Wetland District and also changing the district definition from any area with “poorly and very poorly drained soils,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to the area delineated by the National Wetlands Inventory on the NHGRANIT website, or otherwise identified.

The same amendment would require a vegetated wetlands buffer within 50 feet beyond the wetlands district, unless specifically permitted. Structures existing within the buffer prior to March 12, 2022, may be replaced or rebuilt, providing there is no additional impact to the buffer.

Lyndeborough Planning Board Chair Charlie Post said the Conservation Commission requested the amendment.

“We followed through to bring it to the public. We’ll let the voters decide,” Post said.

Another amendment would add several structure types to what is not allowed within building setbacks. Currently, all structures must be set back a minimum of either 35 or 50 feet from the property line, depending upon the district. The change to the ordinance includes septic systems, wells, swimming pools, antennas, satellite dishes, solar panels and similar objects as “structures” that would also have to conform to setback rules.

Another amendment would put into place an expiration date for unused variances or special exceptions granted after Aug. 19, 2013. Those permissions would expire after two years if not acted upon. There is no language in the new ordinance that allows for extensions to be granted, and Post said those who still want to pursue the project would have to reapply and go through the approval process again.

The board also is putting forth a proposal to authorize the Planning Board to require preliminary review of subdivisions and site plans, as allowed by state law.

Post said the board is interested in the preliminary process particularly for complex cases such as large subdivisions. The board would use the process to have a preliminary collaborative discussion with applicants before a formal application was made. Post said it can make the actual application process more efficient by allowing the board to identify potential issues before an application is made.

Several of the proposed amendments do not make functional changes to the ordinance rules. Post said they are the result of an ongoing effort to update the ordinance to comply with current state rules and regulations and eliminate contradictions within the town’s own rules.

Amendment one would amend several sections of the ordinance to include or correct references to state statutes and codes.

Amendment two would add four new definitions to the ordinance: “campground,” “child day care,” “height” and “school.” These definitions currently don’t exist in the code.

Two amendments, rather than make changes to the code, would add tables which consolidate information about what is allowed in the town’s established districts. One table outlines required dimension requirements, including road frontage and setbacks. The other is a table of permitted uses in those districts, and whether they are allowed by right, by special exception or are not permitted in the district.

Post said these tables consolidate information that is  already outlined elsewhere in the code for the individual districts into a single table.

“It is all written out, for each district, but it was really confusing for people. It’s more helpful for the public to have it all written out in one place,” Post said.

The board approved all articles and moved them to the warrant following Thursday’s hearing.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaar i@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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