Voters say no to zoning simplification amendment

  • Karen and Peter Kambol campaign outside the Peterborough Community Center during voting on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Sharon Monahan and Loretta Laurenitis campaign outside the Peterborough Community Center during voting on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Loretta Laurenitis and Sharon Monahan campaign against zoning changes outside the polls at the Peterborough Community Center Tuesday.  Staff Photo By Meghan Pierce—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Peterborough Planning Board Chairwoman Ivy Vann asks voters to say yes to the proposed “zoning simplification” amendment outside the Peterborough Town Meeting ballot voting in Peterborough Tuesday. The amendment was  voted down. Staff Photo By Meghan Pierce

  • Voting at the Peterborough Community Center on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/9/2018 12:08:07 PM

Peterborough voters said no to the “zoning simplification” amendment on Tuesday’s Town Meeting ballot. 

Peterborough residents were strongly against the proposed “zoning simplification” amendment, voting against the measure 934-354. The amendment would have implemented a form-based code system, among other changes

“I think there was some good work done here, but I think it’s too broad and should be limited to a smaller geographic area,” said Peter Kambol, a resident of Cheney Avenue, who was campaigning against the amendment on Tuesday. “I started as a yes, and I agree with the high-level goals of this ordinance, I just have some issues with the implementation.”

Kambol said that the Planning Board needed to go back to the drawing board, and do more outreach to specific neighborhoods, saying that by the time he got involved in the process, the board’s interaction with the public had become more “talking to” than “talking with.”

Jay Purcell was also campaigning against amendment C on Tuesday, and said that one of his big concerns was that the “forms” proposed allowed for buildings that were “out of scale” with buildings in existing neighborhoods. 

“These buildings don’t fit in these neighborhoods,” said Purcell. “Form-based code tries for a one-size fits all approach, where one building type can be used in many neighborhoods, whether they’re to scale or not.”

Purcell also disagreed with a change that would have been affected under the new ordinance to eliminate the requirement for a conditional use permit for some uses, including apartment buildings, only requiring a site plan review.

“The possibility that these buildings could be built in a neighborhood already exist,” said Purcell. “But the neighborhood has a seat at the table.”

Voters also said no to a zoning amendment that would have allowed property owners to have an accessory dwelling unit on the property, whether or not the owner lives on the property – which is a requirement under the current zoning. Voters turned down that amendment 504-751.

The Planning Board put forth the amendment with the argument that it’s inconsistent with other areas of their ordinance. A duplex, for example, may be rented to two tenants without the landlord being present. And they found it unlikely to be enforcible.

Voters such as Loretta Laurenitis, however, balked at the idea of taking away that restriction.

Laurenitis said that she was concerned the amendment might lead to absentee landlords, who would rent both the main residence and the accessory unit, which could drive up prices, rather than create more affordable spaces, which was the intent of the accessory dwelling unit ordinance in the first place.

A landlord that doesn’t live on the property, or potentially even in town, said Laurenitis, might also “not be as caring of the neighborhood,” resulting in properties falling into disrepair.

The other two zoning amendments on the ballot both passed, including the implementation of a groundwater protection overlay district, which passed 771-358 and a solar energy system ordinance, which passed 905-351.

 

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


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