Planning Board to Review Workforce Housing Ordinance

The Town Council is tasking the Planning Board with reviewing the Town’s ordinance related to Workforce Housing.

Responding to calls for a moratorium on workforce housing and concerns over variances granted to multi-family housing developers of late, Roger Fauscher of 33 Kimball Road argued that Londonderry needs more affordable housing.

“The government isn’t for any one man or family,” Fauscher told the Town Council during their public forum Monday night, citing the New Hampshire Constitution.

Fauscher said he has owned an apartment building for close to 40 years and most of his tenants are young people from Londonderry. He added there haven’t been many children living in his building over the years because couples tend to move on and purchase a home when they are ready to start a family.

The town’s ordinance has zoned apartment complexes out of town, according to Fauscher, who believes “a group of people in town want to skirt the Constitution.”

In response to requests for an inventory of workforce and affordable housing available to Londonderry residents, Town Manager Kevin Smith said the Planning staff has been updating the town’s inventory of workforce housing projects that have been approved or are in the pipeline.

Londonderry resident Pauline Caron called for a moratorium on any future workforce housing projects at the Town Council’s Sept. 8 meeting “until the town takes inventory of what it has,” noting “seniors can’t find affordable housing in Londonderry and are moving out of town.”

Smith said Councilor John Farrell, who was not present at Monday night’s meeting, requested in an email that he ask the Council for their thoughts on tasking the Planning Board with looking at existing ordinance to see if it meets the law’s requirements.

In speaking with Planning staff, Smith said the Town’s ordinance conforms with state law, but the bigger question is whether or not it’s financially feasible for developers to conform within the existing ordinance.

“Right now developers feel like they can’t, which is why they are going to the Zoning Board looking for variances,” Smith said, noting Londonderry requires workforce housing projects to offer 75 percent workforce housing units, whereas in surrounding communities the requirement is closer to 25 percent workforce housing units. One project was granted a variance for 50 percent workforce.

Our ordinance calls for 16 units per building, but developers are asking for 24 because they like to construct units of 12 in these buildings, he said.

Councilor Joe Green said he doesn’t want to task the Planning Board with tweaking the ordinance just because the Town has seen an influx of requests for variances.

“We need to really think about what this is going to do to our population,” he said. “We need to take a look at the whole picture.”

Councilor Tom Freda said he is “fine with the Planning Board taking a look at the ordinance.”

Chairman Tom Dolan agreed with Green, telling Smith the Council would like the Planning Board to take a look at the ordinance “in light of the individual, not just because there have been multiple requests for Zoning ordinances.”

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