Statement for Senior Housing Public Hearing-14Jan2021

I read the following statement at today’s Planning Board’s Public Hearing on the Senior Housing amendment.

I thank the Board for their two years of work on the article to permit increased density for Senior Housing. My biggest concern about the current proposal, as written, is that no Senior Housing will actually get built as a result of passing this article.

First: Senior Housing would only be allowed in the most expensive land in town. The increased density is not sufficient to encourage a developer to make the necessary investment in purchasing the land, getting approvals, and building the units. This area is also heavily built-up: new housing would likely come at the expense of existing homes. Solution: Permit Senior Housing in other parts of town.

Second: Limiting all residents to be 62 years or older unduly precludes many common living arrangements for seniors (for example, one spouse older than 62, the other younger, or an adult child moving in to help a parent). Solution: Adopt the federal HOPA (Housing for Older Persons Act) standard that requires at least one household member to be 55 years or older.

Third: This proposal contains language (a “poison pill”) that nullifies the Senior Housing article if the State of NH passes a law that requires the same increased density for non-seniors. I don’t understand why we should jettison Senior Housing if the state requires us to support increased density for people of all ages. Solution: Drop the poison pill.

This meeting is the last moment for public input before the language becomes final for the vote at Town Meeting. I encourage the Board to incorporate this feedback into the final wording of the article. Thank you.


Feel free to share this post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or email by clicking one of the icons below. Any opinions expressed here are solely my own, and not those of any public bodies, such as the Lyme Planning Board or the Lyme Community Development Committee, where I am/have been a member. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts – you can reach me at richb.lyme@gmail.com.

Public Hearing for Senior Housing amendment

This Thursday (Jan 14), the Planning Board will hold a Public Hearing for a proposed Senior Housing amendment to be voted at Town Meeting in March.

Update – February 2021: I have changed my mind. The Planning Board’s refusal to consider any changes from the public, and the inherent flaws of the proposal lead me to say that it would be better to vote down Article 2 and ask the Board to start again. (I originally had said “Although I feel it is kind of weak tea (the language is very restrictive, which will result in expensive units), I believe this is a small step toward new kinds of housing, and that the town should approve it.” I no longer believe this proposal is a basis for moving forward.)

The amendment would be dramatically improved by permitting Senior Housing elsewhere in town so that a project isn’t burdened with the most expensive land (per acre) in town. For example, both these areas provide less expensive land yet with good access to services:

a) In the Commercial District, near 84 Dartmouth College Highway and Pond View Apartments.

b) On major roads elsewhere in town. Land is less expensive, and larger development can be built back from the road.

The purpose of the Public Hearing is for the Planning Board to present the proposal, explain their intent, and to receive feedback that they can incorporate into the amendment before it goes to Town Meeting in March.

If you have thoughts, please come (virtually) to the meeting this Thursday, January 14 at 7:00pm. The Zoom link is: https://zoom.us/j/6808321113 and the passcode, if needed, is LymePlan.

I hope to see you there. Thanks!

Rich Brown


Feel free to share this post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or email by clicking one of the icons below. Any opinions expressed here are solely my own, and not those of any public bodies, such as the Lyme Planning Board or the Lyme Community Development Committee, where I am/have been a member. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts – you can reach me at richb.lyme@gmail.com.