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Zoning rewrite doesn't make it onto CIP list

Union Leader Correspondent

October 12. 2012 12:21AM

LONDONDERRY - A proposal to add a comprehensive $200,000 rewrite of the town's zoning ordinance to next year's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was nixed by the Planning Board on Wednesday evening.

During this week's public hearing, Community Development Director Andre Garron said that while he realized the new CIP was completed last month, town staff didn't realize the project might be considered for the CIP until after they received the project estimates.

Planning staff said the comprehensive rewrite of the zoning ordinance takes a great deal of time and energy, and the existing zoning ordinance is 'basically a compilation of amendments dating back to the mid-1960s.'

'This re-write is an opportunity for Londonderry to set the vision captured in the 2012-2013 comprehensive master plan into a cohesive regulatory document,' Garron said.

The project, which would have been targeted for 2014, might still be eligible for a $30,000 New Hampshire Housing and Finance grant, meaning the actual cost could be closer to $170,000, Garron said.

Goffstown and Windham acquired such funding for similar projects, he said.

He also said the updated zoning ordinance is important for Londonderry as the town's new master plan is nearly complete and will go before the board sometime next month.

'The zoning ordinance is one of the key elements in our master plan,' Garron told the board. 'As noted during the (master plan) review, not only would we need to add new zoning standards to the ordinance, but I think the ordinance itself needs to be rewritten.'

While most of the town officials present agreed that an updated zoning ordinance is needed, not everyone agreed it was an appropriate CIP project.

In order to qualify as a CIP project, articles must have a gross cost of at least $100,000; have a useful life of at least six years; be a nonrecurring budget item; require bond financing; and involve land acquisition.

'We can't capitalize on a plan,' School Business Administrator Peter Curro said. 'I'm not saying this isn't warranted, but I don't think this is a CIP item.'

Curro further noted that 'CIP projects are generally things like roads, buildings and sewers.'

Finance Director Susan Hickey agreed.

'This is not necessarily what the CIP was designed to do,' Hickey said, suggesting the request might be better handled via the town council and town manager in the form of a budget warrant article and allow voters to have the ultimate say.

'If we accept this, it sets a precedent,' board member Mary Soares said. 'I just don't think it's fair to the process and there are other ways to get things accomplished.

With that, the board agreed to leave the CIP as is for now.

The Planning Board meets again on Nov. 7.

Politics Derry Londonderry

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