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Housing Finance Authority says Goffstown has met Plan Pinardville obligations

GOFFSTOWN — Selectmen have received confirmation from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority that the town has met its obligation regarding Plan Pinardville. However, some residents are not convinced the town is off the hook.

At the board’s Sept. 30 meeting, Chairman Collis Adams read the NHHFA letter from Benjamin Frost, director of public affairs,who said the NHHFA is prepared to reimburse the town’s consultant’s costs up to the full grant amount of $50,000.

The town must submit a copy of the plan and documentation of public meetings and other materials related to the project.

“This brings this matter to a close as far as the board is concerned,” said Adams.

However, Cheryl Anderson, a member of the Plan Pinardville Ad Hoc Committee, said the town should not take NHHFA’s word and close the issue. She said the agency is accepting the selectmen’s representation, but the federal Housing and Urban Development is the source of the money.

“HUD has the final say in whether we have met the requirement, not the NHHFA,” she said. “(HUD) can demand full payment of the $50,000 and initiate legal action and demand compliance. I don’t see this letter gives us any assurance except the board’s representation that it believes the town’s fulfilled it. I don’t think this is a legal statement that will hold up in court.”

She asked the board to direct the planning board to reject the plan formally. Adams suggested Anderson bring the matter before planners, but “without the plan, there can be no code,” he said.

“If we officially vote it down, we have something to show,” she said.

Anderson also asked board members why they don’t want to return the grant money.

“I know the town has money somewhere. There’s some pet project that somebody wanted,” she said.

Selectmen Nick Campasano said the board of selectmen has a responsibility for the town’s financial stability, and returning the money may not be in its best interest.

“There’s an opportunity to put this thing to bed and to meet our obligation without spending money,” he said. “That money can best be spent on another police cruiser we have to replace and can be best spent on a number of things without raising the tax rate.”

Campasano said if HUD demands the money he would be in favor of returning it, but doesn’t think that will happen.

State Rep. John Burt also spoke about returning the money and indicated he would pursue the possibility of a petitioned warrant article to let the voters decide in March.

“I feel the grant money needs to go back. That’s the only way to get rid of this,” he said.

An ad hoc committee worked for seven months with a consultant to design a model to improve Pinardville and promote mixed-use development in town. Many residents voiced their concerns throughout the process, saying HUD will force the town to build low-income housing that would result in higher taxes, increased traffic and changes in lifestyle. Some items in the plan were revised to reflect residents’ concerns.

After a four-hour meeting on Sept. 12, the planning board voted 7-0 not to adopt Plan Pinardville into the town’s master plan. If the board had approved the plan, the committee would have continued its work with the Character-based Development Ordinance, formerly known as the Smart Code.

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