New residential, workforce house development approved in Rindge

  • The Rindge Meetinghouse Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/11/2021 12:31:49 PM
Modified: 1/11/2021 12:31:28 PM

A large residential development, including workforce housing units, which has been controversial among Rindge residents, was approved during Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting.

The proposed development would build a total of 66 housing units on 30 lots.

The development, proposed by Navian Development of Rindge, is proposed to be built on 110 wooded acres off Route 119. It includes 26 single-family units, 16 three-bedroom units in four four-unit buildings, and 24 two-bedroom units in four six-unit buildings.

Ten of the multi-family buildings and six of the single-family buildings are intended to be “workforce housing,” a designation that requires they be affordable based on a state-devised formula based on the area’s median income. In Cheshire County, a home valued at $278,500 or a rental at $1,170 monthly is considered to be affordable.

Audio problems plaguevirtual listeners

While between 30 and 40 people attended the final hearing on the issue in person at the Rindge Recreation Department, those attending the meeting remotely on Zoom experienced audio issues throughout the presentation. Members of the virtual audience addressed the issue to the board early in the meeting, and attempts were made to have speakers speak loudly enough to be audible to Zoom listeners, with varying results, with some speakers so muffled as to be inaudible.

About an hour into the meeting, Select Board member Bob Hamilton, who had been attending the meeting virtually, came to the Recreation Center in person, to inform the board that the remote audio was not sufficient.

“We can’t hear anything,” Hamilton said. He addressed a recent speaker who had addressed the possible impacts of the project to town aquifers. “We have to assume at home that he’s opposed to this project, because we can’t hear a thing.”

He referred to the hearing as a “public non-hearing” stating that there were nearly as many people listening virtually as in person who were not able to understand what was being said.

Following Hamilton’s comments, the board changed the microphone it was using and the volume from audience speakers improved, but board discussions remained muffled.

At the outset of the meeting, Board Chair Jonah Ketola had clarified that while an emergency order issued by Governor Chris Sununu allows boards to conduct meeting by Zoom or other electronic platforms due to COVID-19, it does not require it. The Planning Board has provided Zoom for those that wish to attend remotely, but does not accept public comment virtually.

“It is basically a courtesy, though of course it was not our intention that people not be able to hear,” Planning Director Kirk Stenersen said Wednesday.

 

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




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