Rindge petition zoning articles seek to slow town growth

  • The Rindge Meetinghouse Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/15/2020 4:48:10 PM
Modified: 1/15/2020 4:47:15 PM

A pair of petition zoning articles seek to slow down the development in Rindge, by bringing back two previous town ordinances – impact fees and a growth management ordinance.

The articles would have to be approved by voters in March, but according to town officials, even if voters pass the articles, they cannot be implemented the way they are written. 

The first of the two articles would reinstate an impact fee ordinance in Rindge. Impact fees are an additional cost that must be paid when a new home or development is built, and is based on the additional burden the new building would have on police, fire, highway, water or sewer departments.

Rindge once had an impact fee ordinance, approved by the voters in 2003, but the public rescinded the fees in 2017.

The second article would reinstate the town’s growth management ordinance, a zoning restriction which sunset in 2010 and was never renewed. The ordinance would limit the number of building permits that can be issued in a calendar year for residential construction.

As written, the articles don’t specify the amount of the impact fees the town should charge, or the number of building permits it could issue. Those omissions mean even if the voters approve the articles in March, they can’t be enforced.

Selectwoman and Planning Board ex-officio Roberta Oeser said the town has consulted its lawyer, and confirmed the articles aren’t enforceable. 

The growth management ordinance in particular is problematic, because it is a short-term measure meant to provide towns time to come up with a capital improvement plan to accommodate growth, and requires a study of capital deficiencies and a sunset date, neither of which is provided with the petition article, Oeser said.

“It’s not that the Planning Board doesn’t hear you, but we’re governed by statute,” Oeser said. “I understand people are really passionate about this subject, but the Planning Board is only allowed to do what we’re allowed to do.”

However, Planning Director Kirk Stenersen said, they could serve as a guidepost to the town’s Planning Board about the current feelings of the public towards Rindge’s development. If the articles pass, the Planning Board could take the next year to craft more formal ordinances to put before the voting public in 2021, for example.

“I think that would be wise on the Planning Board’s part. If they do pass, that’s the town saying, ‘We need to look into this, and see what we can do,’” Stenersen said. 

Those who signed the petition to put the articles on March’s warrant, said they’ve seen the growth in Rindge accelerate, and they want it to slow down.

Helen Hoyt of Rindge said she’s lived in town 62 years, and she’s seen the change first hand.

Hoyt, who signed both petitions, said she’s particularly concerned about large developments which have gotten approvals in recent years.

“It has to slow down,” she said. “In a few years, it’s going to be ridiculous. At one time, we were smaller than Jaffrey. Not anymore. There’s going to be no land around here at all soon. It’ll be like a city, and there’s no way to keep up with it.”

By statute, petition warrant articles must be placed on the ballot as they are written, so the articles will appear on the town warrant in March, unamended for the public to vote on, even if they can not be implemented. 


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

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