Town Gathering Statistics on Local Workforce Housing

Planning Board Chair Art Rugg reported at the Town Council’s Jan. 5 meeting that he and members of the Planning Department met with representatives from the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority about workforce housing.

“We’re looking at different ways to deal with what has been happening in town,” he said. “We have good numbers and we’re putting those together. This really falls on the back of (Geographic Information Systems Manager) John Vogl to put this into a form we all can understand.”

Rugg said the information should help the Town defend itself in the event of a lawsuit resulting from a decision related to workforce housing developments in town.

“This is a Planning function and a priority with the Town,” he said. “I think the Planning Board will be wanting to see those numbers, and we will be discussing them with (Town Attorney) Mike Ramsdell, as well.”

Calling for a moratorium on future workforce housing developments, resident and publisher of the Londonderry Times Deb Paul urged the Council at their last meeting to pull the Workforce Housing Ordinance off the books until updated information is available for the Zoning and Planning Boards.

The Planning Board has looked at and charged Planning staff to examine the workforce statute, as well as older statutes.

So far, Londonderry has in the pipeline the Wallace Farms development, which will offer 240 units, half being workforce housing; and the NeighborWorks project, 78 workforce housing units.

A proposed workforce housing development on Stonehenge Road would have 288 units, with 75 percent required by the Town’s Zoning Ordinance to be workforce. The Zoning Board of Adjustment recently denied variance requests for the Stonehenge Road project, including one that would have reduced the minimum workforce housing occupancy requirement from 75 percent to 50 percent.

The developer had stated the project would not be financially viable without that and other variances.

Planning staff is also looking into defining what the Town’s “fair share” of workforce housing is.

Town Council Chair Tom Dolan recommended Rugg and Planning staff consult with Town Manager Kevin Smith and “when the fruit is well, pick it and share with the Council.”

“This is an important thing some individuals are concerned with. We want to alleviate those concerns,” he said.

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