Rindge zoning amendments propose tighter PURD regulations

  • The Rindge Meetinghouse Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/4/2021 4:30:50 PM

Several of the proposed zoning amendments set for Rindge’s ballot in March address housing density.

The first amendment proposed by the Planning Board would limit the overall density of a Planned Unit Residential Development, or PURD, to one unit per the minimum lot size for the district it’s in, and permitting PURDs only in the residential, residential-agricultural, village and college districts.

This language is more restrictive than what the current zoning allows, according to Planning Board ex-officio Roberta Oeser.

Oeser said that, if passed, the new regulations put PURDs closer to the original language passed in the 1970s.

Currently, the zoning code doesn’t specify what zoning districts PURDs can be in, effectively allowing them in all districts. The zoning amendment would restrict them solely to residential areas.

Several recent PURD proposals have resulted in large amounts of pushback from residents during the approval process, so much so that the Planning Board formed a sub-committee to review the PURD rules, which resulted in several of the zoning articles being put forth for vote this year.

The proposed amendments would also change the residential and residential agricultural districts to require that each dwelling unit be on a separate lot. Those districts would still allow accessory dwelling units. Accessory dwellings allow a second residence on a parcel, such as an apartment attached to a home or garage.

The proposed amendments would add two new definitions to the zoning code. The first, for a multi unit dwelling, which would be defined as any structure containing more than two dwelling units, but also limiting the number of units to no more than six.

The second definition is for “moderate to high density housing,” which would be defined as a residential development with three or more attached units, with no more than six units per structure, where multiple structures are permitted on a single lot. These developments are also defined as being in agreed-upon growth zones, and designed to reduce driving, create neighborhoods and foster community.

Both definitions already exist in the zoning code, Oeser said, and the change would effectively be to limit multi-family units to a total of six dwelling units. Currently, she said, there isn’t a limit specified.

“Six units is big enough,” Oeser said.

Two other zoning amendments address the town’s accessory dwelling ordinance.

The proposed amendments would allow accessory dwelling units in the college district, and to amend the ordinance to allow detached accessory dwelling units.

Oeser said the college district, despite being a residential district, isn’t listed with the other districts that allow accessory dwelling units, which is an oversight the amendment would correct. As to allowing detached accessory dwelling units, she said the town has granted several exceptions to the rule for apartments over detached garages, or similar arrangements.

“There have been quite a few requests for them,” Oeser said.

Two other proposed zoning amendments would amend the zoning map so that two parcels that are currently split between the business/light industry and residential and agricultural districts, and make them exclusively in the business/light industry district, at the owner’s request.

A public hearing on the proposed amendments is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 5 at the Rindge Recreation Department at 283 Wellington Road at 7 p.m. The meeting will also be available by Zoom for viewing only. Zoom viewers or those who plan to listen by phone can find sign in information on rindgenh.org.

The proposed amendments can be viewed in their entirety on the Rindge Planning Board page on the town website, or in the Planning Board office.


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