Some ask that Plan Pinardville committee be dismantled
GOFFSTOWN – Some residents are concerned the Plan Pinardville master plan will promote low- to middle-income housing in certain neighborhoods in town.
Others are asking the Board of Selectmen to dismantle the ad hoc committee and let the town’s planning and zoning department take over the project.
Pinardville resident Gaetene Benner, who said she was speaking on behalf of 100 residents at the July 30 committee meeting, said she and others are concerned about higher taxes, apartment houses having impact on services and homeowners not being adequately represented on the ad hoc committee.
“I’m fighting for my home. I’ve lived here for 30 years and I don’t want to be taxed out of my home,” Benner said. “Does it make sense to pay $50,000 for a plan that’s supposed to be an idea? This is our master plan. It should be a plan we go by. It needs to be accurate. It cannot be an illusion. Conceptual ideas become reality.”
The Shaw’s effect
Residents, she said, were against the housing development at Moose Club, and it was approved. Other properties of concern include the 35 acres for sale near the ice house, and the potential development of land on which the Shaw’s supermarket is located.
Last week, the Shaw’s-Star Market corporate office announced the Goffstown supermarket on Mast Road will close by Sept. 1.
“You can fit a lot of houses in that lot,” Benner said.
Apartment houses bring more students and pay less taxes than single-family homes, and it takes about $10,900 to educate one child and a 48-unit apartment building could mean 96 more students, she said.
“We’re lucky if we’ll get enough money to pay for their books,” she said.
She said opting for Housing and Urban Development money will tie the town’s hands.
“If we get into this HUD paperwork, which the plan has, we will be required to have a minimum of low-income housing. The plan makes you do that, but if we don’t go with this HUD plan, we’re not obliged to make a minimum amount of low- to middle-income housing,” Benner said.
Brian Wright, of Consultant Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative, who is assisting the committee in drafting the plan, said there are no apartment complexes shown in the Pinardville plan.
“You guys already have housing standards that require certain amounts of affordability standards to be met, and this plan does not require any of these. It just talks about balancing housing,” he said.
This rebuttal to public comment prompted Pinardville resident John Burt and resident Bill Wynne to speak out against the committee’s demeanor and what they characterized as its inability to present sufficient information.
Afraid to speak
Burt asked selectmen at their Aug. 5 meeting to send a strong message to the ad hoc committee to be more respectful of residents’ concerns.
“People are afraid to speak at meetings,” he said. “There is an intimidation factor coming before a board.”
Burt warned that if the town agrees to HUD’s terms and provides more low- to middle-income housing, Goffstown will lose its authority.
“If Goffstown says we only want 34 workforce housing, yet they say they want 1,000, HUD breaks the tie and we have no choice,” Burt said. “HUD has the final say on how big and how tall. It just won’t fit Pinardville.”
Wynne offered similar comments and, in particular, compared the ad hoc committee to the recent Congestion Mitigation and Air Control public meeting addressing improved safety at two village streets intersecting with Mast Road. He thanked that steering committee for its work and transparency.
“When you compare the two presentations, they differ so much, and the way it’s being presented to the community it’s pretty much stuffed in our direction. Full disclosure is not given and answers are not provided to satisfaction,” said Wynne. “If the ad hoc committee was handling things the way things were being handled by the CMAQ road plan, we’d be further down the track. Get this ad hoc committee shut down.”
He suggested turning Plan Pinardville over to the town’s planning and zoning boards.
“Brian Rose has the toughest job in this town,” Wynne said. “With his skills and knowledge, we have a man in this Town Hall that can really get something done without grants and without HUD pushing in our direction.”
After the meeting, Selectmen Vice Chairman Mark Lemay said the board will review the residents’ comments as some selectmen were unable to attend the Aug. 5 meeting.
“We would like to see the process work its way through. We need to sit down as a group and discuss what needs to be done and how the project is going to get done,” said Lemay, who also serves as the board’s representative on the ad hoc committee.
The board was presented the Plan Pinardville Smart Code on Aug. 5 and has not had a chance to review it., Lemay said. New zoning in Pinardville, called the Smart Code, is geared to help shape the future of specific sections in town.
The Smart Code, the draft Character-Based Development Ordinance for Pinardville, is available for review at www.goffstown.com/planpinardville.
Burt asked why some members of the committee are from Manchester, Hooksett and Bedford.
“We can do all of what we want to do locally,” he said.
According to the committee’s charter, support may be provided by representatives of the Southern NH Planning Commission, the city of Manchester and Bedford. The committee’s term ends March 2014.
The town was provided a $50,000 grant through the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority to develop new or revised land-use regulations over a two-year term. The town agreed to adhere to federal, local and state laws in accepting the grant.
The consultant, Brian Wright, has been assisting the committee in drafting the plan. His services are being paid through the grant.
At the July 30 meeting, Rose said the confusion about multi-use buildings stems mainly from the drawings depicted in the draft plan.
“The drawings show a square of a building and that leads people to jump to conclusions that it’s multiple housing,” he said at the committee’s July 30 meeting. “We are providing different kinds of options for people to live in other than single-family homes. Statutorily, we are required to provide different opportunities to provide housing for lower- and middle-income people. We would be going against the fair housing laws the federal government has set up and the state has set up. You will get a spread of housing through Goffstown and not just Pinardville.”
He said options should be provided to avoid subjecting the town to possible lawsuits. Multi-use buildings could include a mixture of offices and restaurants and residential.
“This plan makes it clear we’re trying to preserve and protect the residential neighborhoods and the types of housing that are unique in Pinardville today,” said committee member Tony Marts, adding the draft plan gives the town a zoning base for the future. “This is not the end point, it’s the beginning point.”
Residents have until Aug. 17 to submit their concerns before the plan goes to the Planning Board on Sept. 12. The goal is to have the plan adopted as part of the Goffstown master plan. The next meeting of the Plan Pinardville ad hoc committee is Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, Room 106.