Town considers outright drive-through ban

  • Planning Board members Joe Hanlon and Ivy Vann discuss zoning amendments that may be proposed this year.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Planning Board members Joe Hanlon, Ivy Vann and Bob Holt discuss zoning amendments that may be proposed this year.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 6:0PM

Do drive-throughs have a place in Peterborough?

The town has come down against drive-throughs for food, but currently allows them for banks and pharmacies. Updates to the town’s zoning code, which are currently undergoing the public feedback process, could change that.

The bulk of the amendments have to do with converting Peterborough to a form-based code. Developers will be limited to certain design forms depending upon the zones they want to build in.

The function of the changes is to simplify the zoning code and to try to encourage development that matches what’s already in town.

The board reviewed the proposed changes with little substantive feedback, but some members balked at a change that would eliminate the use of bank and pharmacy drive-throughs.

One of Peterborough’s attractions, said Planning Board Chair Ivy Vann, is its quaint, village feel. “The more drive-throughs we allow, the less we become an adorable, walkable village.”

Other members of the board, however, were not in favor of packaging a potentially contentious issue with a much larger change to the ordinance.

Vann argued that it had been discussed at previous public workshops related to the form-based code, and that the board had done due diligence to attempt to inform the public. Others argued that not enough people attended those workshops compared to the number that showed up to vote, and the amendment should be made more clear.

Peter Throop, director of development for Peterborough, said that it was up to the board’s discretion how they wanted to present the amendment – pulled out as a significant policy change, or parcel with a larger change.

Vann said that if the board felt the inclusion of the drive-through change was make-or-break, she’d be willing to pull it out of the form-based code for seperate consideration.

“I’m prepared to talk about why I think it’s important,” said Vann. “I’m not prepared to lose the ordinance over it.”

The Planning Board is planning one more public workshop of the form-based code, and agreed to table the discussion until after that workshop.

Groundwater protection overlay zone

The board voted to move proposed amendments to the groundwater protection overlay zone to the town warrant after answering several questions on the matter at a public hearing on Monday.

The amendments make clear that uses that are allowed by conditional use permit still have to submit to groundwater protection rules. This has been the town’s practice, said Throop, but the zoning ordinance wasn’t specific on that point. 

The amendment also requires that all new residential development have to allow 20 percent or more of storm water runoff to infiltrate on the site. This is true no matter how much impervious surface is allowed in that district. 

It also makes clear that the board can require infiltration designs that are subject to review by a consultant, at the applicant’s expense.

The board agreed to place the groundwater overlay amendments on the warrant for voter approval.