The amount of growth Londonderry has seen in the past few years has caused some strife between residents and developers. More developmentss in town means more resources are being used, and this is leading to some problems for locals. Smaller bodies of water in the area are being tapped for commercial use. This caused an uproar, leading to a confrontation with the town council.
The council tried to curtail extensive growth through a Growth Management Ordinance back in 2002. Unfortunately, that lapsed back in 2015. Chairman Tom Dolan said this summer that a series of growth management workshops would be held in early fall. The town manager recently announced they will be happening in October and will be open to the public for discussion on how to best conserve the town’s resources so it would have long term stability.
There will be two workshops: the first being an information session on Londonderry’s growth management efforts over the last 25 years, and the second will be a brainstorming session between residents and town officials/employees to come with ideas. Dolan says he wants to “tap into community knowledge and history” to best solve the problem.
One possible solution is for the town to start buying land and sell it to developers at its discretion. Londonderry would have to pay for it out of town money, and hope to sell it back at an equal or greater value. That means the town council would have to allocate funds for it in next year’s budget. Dolan noted that state law prevents towns and cities from enacting ordinances that would prevent or deter land purchases in town. But if the town is the one to buy the land, then that’s a little loophole that could work.
The amount of growth that would warrant such an act would need to be recorded so the town would have accurate data to make that decision. Luckily, it was. Londonderry saw 94 building permits issued in 2016, compared to an average of 63.5 permits given in the previous six years. The number of housing units increased by 1.07 percent between 2015 and 2016. Surrounding towns saw a housing increase of only 0.68 percent during the same time.
The 2002 ordinance said a limit on building permits would only occur if certain criteria were met. The first has to do with the average number of building permits issued. The second with the average number of housing units built in the last year compared to the 6 towns surrounding Londonderry. The third one refers to the ability to meet the demands of these new units. If the GMO was still in effect today, the two previously stated points would fulfill the first two out of three requirements needed to limit the number of building permits being issued. But, since it is not, then it is up to the town to decide how to best control unwanted growth.
The town council will host the first session at the Town Hall on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 7p.m. The second session will be Saturday, Oct. 21 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
As for the outcome, Dolan said, it “depends on the will of the people.”