Zoning amendment could change, repeal overlay districts

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/6/2019 5:13:10 PM

A petition zoning amendment on the ballot next week could significantly change or repeal zoning rules put into place around Peterborough’s center over the last five years.

Amendment 15, submitted by a group of residents, proposes to repeal the Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone II, adopted in 2017, and amend the Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone I, which was adopted in 2014. A Yes vote on amendment 15 would repeal and amend. A No vote would leave the current zoning in place.

The Traditional Neighborhood Zones I and II are overlay districts. That means both the rules of the overlay zone, and the underlying district apply. Where they conflict, the overlay rules take precedence.

How the Traditional Neighborhood Zones were formed

The Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone I was a result of nearly seven years of studying Peterborough’s neighborhoods and housing needs, said Carol Ogilvie, who was Peterborough’s community development director at the time.

There was – and still is – a need for smaller, more affordable houses and rental apartments close to the town center in Peterborough, Ogilvie said.

“Housing is an issue for people. Everyone I know in my life started as a renter, and [rental properties] just aren’t there today. It’s no wonder people can’t live where they work.”

Ogilvie helped to draft both overlay zones, first as the town employee, and then as an outside consultant.

Traditional Neighborhood Zone I is based off existing neighborhoods, which residents identified as places in Peterborough they loved, Ogilvie said, including High Street, Pine Street, Vale Street, Concord Street, and parts of Union and Summer Street.

“Those were the neighborhoods that came up over and over again, and these are the neighborhoods we were trying to replicate,” Ogilvie said. 

It also took into account the existing lots in the area, Ogilvie said, most of which were smaller than what the zoning called for.

“It was an attempt to get the zoning to match what’s already there,” Ogilvie said. 

Jo Anne Carr, Jaffrey's planning and economic development director and a Summer Street resident in Peterborough, supports Amendment 15. Carr said while she sees the need to address the housing issue in town, Carr said if Peterborough wants to increase affordable housing it needs to be intentional about it and target its zoning with that in mind. 

Proposed changes to Traditional Neighborhood Zone I

The petition proposes several changes to the Tradition Neighborhood Overlay Zone I, where it overlaps with the town’s General Residence district.

The overlay zone covers both a part of the family district and the General Residence district – the petition proposes leaving the family district requirements as they are written.

The proposed amendment would require larger lot sizes in the general residence district than the overlay zone currently allows. It would increase the amount of road frontage from 50 feet to 75 feet, and the minimum lot size for a single-family home from 5,000 square feet to 7,500 square feet.

The lot size for a multi-family home would increase from 5,000 square feet plus 2,500 square feet for each unit to 6,000 square feet for each unit.

It also proposes to increase the distance allowed between the lot line and buildings. It would increase the distance from the front of the lot from 15 feet to 20, and from 10 feet to 20 feet from the sides and back of the lot.

How Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone I compares to the General Residence district

The proposed amendment continues to allow for smaller lots than in the normal General Residence district.

If a lot is in the General Residence district, but not on public sewer and water, it must have a lot size of 20,000 square feet for a single family home or duplex, and 10,000 square feet per unit for multi-family buildings.

Setbacks are 30 feet from the front of the property and 25 feet from the side and rear.

Dwellings and accessory buildings can cover no more than 25 percent of a lot.

What the Traditional Neighborhood Zone II does

If the proposed amendment passes, it would repeal the Traditional Neighborhood Zone II completely. The zone encompasses all properties with public water and sewer that are not in Traditional Neighborhood Zone I.

The rules of the Traditional Neighborhood Overlay Zone II were adopted in May of 2017, with the intent of “allow[ing] for higher density and infilling of lots and additional residential housing in close proximity to the currently developed areas of town...” according to the zoning ordinance.

The ordinance allows single-family, two-family, or multi-family dwellings, up to a maximum of 10 dwelling units per building.

Businesses are allowed when they are a secondary use to the residence, after being approved through the Conditional Use Permit and site plan review, both of which are conducted by the Planning Board.

The minimum lot size is 5,000 square feet, and lots must have a minimum of 50 feet on an approved street. Buildings and paving may only cover up to 40 percent of the lot.

Amendment 15 and all other zoning amendments are to come before voters on the Peterborough May Town Meeting ballot May 14.

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


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