Peterborough Select Board endorses document on need for affordable rental housing

  • The Peterborough Town House Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/19/2022 1:18:47 PM

Carol Nelson, on behalf of the Affordable Housing Subcommittee of the Economic Development Authority (EDA), presented the Select Board with a shared plan that addresses the challenges faced by people in Peterborough seeking affordable rental housing during Tuesday’s meeting.

The statement, presented to the Master Plan Steering Committee and the Planning Board earlier in the week, outlines some of the commitments the subcommittee has made, including “bringing a larger mix of rental housing to Peterborough using the resources we have at hand.”

Nelson asked the board for their endorsement of the statement in order to acknowledge the need for affordable housing.

“I can tell you this is a need,” she said. “After speaking with the New Hampshire Housing Trust last week, the vacancy rate in Peterborough right now is zero. And a healthy market would be around five percent. We are in pretty dire straits.”

The document states that the Select Board, the Planning Board, the EDA, the Affordable Housing Subcommittee of the EDA, the Master Plan Steering Committee and the Zoning Board are working together to acknowledge the need for affordable housing by using local housing trusts, community action agencies, land-use regulations and community revitalization districts. 

Fire Chief Ed Walker asked Nelson what the barrier was for the Contoocook Housing Trust (CHT) from acquiring more properties to their inventory.

“Right now it’s pricing,” Nelson said. “Because they’re a 501(c)(3), they can’t act very quickly.” 

Select Board members voted to approve adopting the statement and its language moving forward.

In another matter, board members approved changes to the Town of Peterborough’s safety manual. The New Hampshire Department of Labor requires all employers in the state with 15 employees or more to have a safety program. 

CIP Committeeseeks guidance

Capital Improvement Plan Committee members asked the Select Board for a recommendation regarding the amount of money from the town’s budget they should allocate for capital improvement projects. Chair Carl Mabbs-Zeno presented a request to the Select Board for advice on the CIP’s capacity for bonding new projects.

“The CIP Committee is respectfully seeking a recommendation from the Select Board as to what percentage of that borrowing capacity should be set aside as unscheduled reserve,” the CIP Committee request says.

After speaking with Assistant Town Administrator and Director of Public Works Seth MacLean at an earlier meeting, Mabbs-Zenos said the CIP was told there would be zero projects bonded for the foreseeable future, but that construction of the municipal campus for the town’s fire and rescue operations that could take place in two years would need to be taken into consideration.

“The CIP felt it had no idea what the right number was moving forward. So we want to have a firm idea of how much money is available for capital improvements,” Mabbs-Zeno said.

The request states that if 15 percent ($4,456,163) of the total borrowing capacity is set aside for unscheduled reserve, as recommended by Town Administrator Nicole MacStay, the maximum additional debt capacity allowed in fiscal 2025 for the municipal campus project, including the fire station and all other needs in the near future, would be 85 percent ($16,607,025) of the town’s remaining borrowing capacity, which accounts for existing debt owed.

“Nothing is set in  stone,” MacStay reminded  the Select Board. “We’re just looking for a planning number at this stage.”

The Select Board decided on setting aside 30 percent the town’s borrowing capacity for capital improvements. 


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