Senior Housing Public Forum – Oct 22

The Planning Board is working on a revised proposal for Senior Housing. They plan a public forum (by Zoom) on Thursday, 22 October at 7:00pm You can read the full announcement at: https://www.lymenh.gov/planning-board/files/senior-housing-amendment-draft-2020 The draft text is appended below.

Although this draft is better than the version proposed last year, it still will not provide good Senior Housing for the Town. It will be helpful for the Board to hear input from the public. The discussion might include these questions:
  1. Why must these units be limited to only one or two people 62 years or older? Why not permit “younger seniors”, say 55 year olds, a federally-recognized standard for “older persons”? Why is it important to prohibit a younger caretaker from living with a senior parent?
  2. Why must Senior Housing be limited to the Lyme Common District? It’s the most expensive land in town (per acre), which drives up unit prices. Furthermore, the language seems to have a built-in contradiction, relaxing dimensional controls to permit as much as 15,000 square feet of development on a parcel while remaining “harmonious and consistent with the present character of the neighborhood.”
  3. What is the justification for the “poison pill” provision? (This is the Board’s own term.) Although the current draft does not contain the language, the proposal would nullify this amendment if NH requires that towns extend the same density bonus for all housing as it gives to senior housing. How does that benefit Lyme?
I have asked these questions in working sessions earlier this year, but frankly, the minutes do not contain very good explanations. It would be quite helpful to have members of the public bring them up in the public forum. I hope to “see” you this coming Thursday. Thanks.
Rich Brown
795-2525


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.

Astonishing Lidar View of NH

The NH Stone Wall Mapper project uses Lidar data to display small variations in ground elevation. A UNH project built this map to identify stone walls in the state.

But… That system can also be “misused” (in a good way) to show lots of other topographic features. For example, here’s Loch Lyme Lodge, near Post Pond. The initial view is very pretty, but it looks just like every other Google Map.

But wait… there’s more! Turn on and off various “layers” to see other kinds of information. To do this:

  1. At the top-left, click the Layers Icon to display various layers
  2. Check the Hillshade box to “hide the trees” and show the underlying ground…

Play around – turn on/off layers, scroll to other parts of NH. If you find something interesting, send me a note and I’ll post it. Enjoy!

Lidar image of Loch Lyme Lodge land

Lidar image from the NH Stone Wall Mapper project

 

Senior Housing on the Agenda – 10 Sep 2020

I sent the following request to John Stadler and David Robbins, asking to incorporate these topics into the Senior Housing discussion when the Planning Board meets on Thursday, 10 September 2020 at 7:00pm. You can join by Zoom using this link: https://zoom.us/j/6808321113


John, David,

The Senior Housing amendment is on the agenda for the Planning Board meeting of 10 September 2020. Since I have not seen a list of the issues we might entertain, I submit the following to help frame Thursday’s meeting.

Would you please distribute this note in its entirety to the members of the Planning Board to review before the discussion.

I would also request that you distribute this note through the Town Notification email system so that the members of the public may be informed that the topic will be on the table. Thank you.

Rich Brown
Alternate, Planning Board


Points for discussion regarding Senior Housing amendment
Lyme Planning Board Meeting – 10 September 2020

1) I request the Board discuss allowing Senior Housing elsewhere in town.

I remember an argument for “walkability” last year, presumably to the services on the Lyme Common. However a significant portion of the permitted district – Orford Road, High Street, and Dorchester Road – is eminently un-walkable. Residents of Senior Housing built there would all have to drive to town.

I advocate that Senior Housing be permitted on any state highway or major town road. This would allow people to build farther from town, yet ensure safe and adequate vehicular access.

2) I request the Board discuss the age requirements for Senior Housing.

I remember a comment, “55 is too young for me” from discussions last year. Why it would be bad for Lyme to have senior housing occupied by 55 year olds? I would also like to understand why this proposal limits units to a maximum of two residents, prohibiting a live-in family member or health aide.

I advocate we adopt the rules of the federal Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) that defines senior housing as “at least 80 percent of the occupied units must be occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit…”  This would shorten the proposed amendment by incorporating those well-defined rules with a single sentence.

3) I request the Board discuss the restrictions on unit size for Senior Housing.

The proposed amendment limits units to no more than 1,200 square feet. This arbitrary constraint eliminates a lot of possible designs. For example, the well regarded and recently approved development on the Common could NOT have been built under this ordinance.

I advocate that the design of Senior Housing units be left to the creativity of local developers to create units that are attractive, marketable, and meet the other regulations of the ordinance.

I look forward to speaking to you on Thursday night.

Rich Brown
795-2525

WireGuard Vanity Keys

(This is another post that only a techie could love…) A WireGuard VPN provides a fast, secure tunnel between endpoints. It uses public/private key pairs to encrypt the data.

If you have several clients, you have to enter their public keys into your server. Keeping track of those keys gets to be a hassle, since ordinarily, the keys are essentially random numbers.

I found a great project to help this problem: WireGuard Vanity Address. It continually generates WireGuard private/public key pairs, printing keys that contain a desired string in the first 10 characters. For example, I generated this public key for my MacBook Pro (MBP): MBP/DzPRZ05vNZ0XS3P9tlokZPrLy/1lb1Zsm3du4QA= Note the MBP/ at the start – it makes it easy to know that this is my Mac’s key.

To do it, I ran the wireguard-vanity-address program. Here is sample output:


$ ./wireguard-vanity-address MBP/ searching for 'mbp/' in pubkey[0..10], one of every 299593 keys should match one trial takes 28.7 us, CPU cores available: 2 est yield: 4.3 seconds per key, 232.30e-3 keys/s hit Ctrl-C to stop private qMKPNrCMId59XTn5vgDICUh/QzIfhqZdrZ+XQBIJj2w= public zmbP/YEpC8Zl6MacYhcY1lq126tL2UudFjmrwbl2/18= private HHtPY8IwGBxQ5OTtJY6GcuFpImXtDp9d187zvI0axFo= public qhIiSMbp/extT5irPy4EJfLRPR9jTzQZHlM15Fo/P2E= private BEnEu1lVdcRI997nj2uPNGsyCZNPhBTCNfgJuYPPJHA= public hZzmBP/8EthWPOFp5wroEGPeJTHGxZ5KENnMiZvniGY= private 8HRj+YZfSBnYZn38MPE09W2g03JvRJoGbjlDkHQ0Wnk= public mBP/q2dOd+m457PyKTIvI7MDTuXLCneG6MM0ir9rwRc= ... private dFE8xsDDWNNNY1OjOIlxQiNVbp7Z6tZhXsaOo/5gPH0= public MBP/DzPRZ05vNZ0XS3P9tlokZPrLy/1lb1Zsm3du4QA= ^C # This last line contains a public key starting with "MBP/"

For more details, read the github page, and also the issue where the author addresses security concerns about decreasing the size of the key space.

WireGuard GUI on macOS

A WireGuard VPN provides a fast, secure tunnel between endpoints. A macOS GUI client is available from the App Store

It works great. But its documentation is minimal. Even though the required keywords (which you must type manually) are the same as other clients, the GUI doesn’t give a hint about whether it’s right until you type it exactly correctly. Consequently, it can be a pain to configure it properly.

This screen shot shows a correctly configured (although fictitious) VPN tunnel. To get to this configuration window, use the Wireguard Manage Tunnels menu, click  and choose Add Empty Tunnel… then fill in the resulting window as shown below:

Screen shot of macOS WireGuard GUI

Although there are plenty of guides to explain WireGuard, this summarizes my best understanding of the meaning of these fields. There may be additional ways to configure the VPN, but following this advice will result in a working secure configuration.

[Interface] Section

  • PrivateKey: Private key for this computer. WireGuard uses this key to encrypt data sent to its peer, and decrypt received data. WireGuard displays the corresponding PublicKey (which you’ll enter into the peer) at the top of the window.
  • Address: Address for the VPN tunnel interface on this computer. Use a /32 address chosen from an address range that not is in either this network or the peer’s network. (This example uses 10.0.10.2/32 for this end. The peer (not shown) is 10.0.10.1/32. They were chosen because the 10.0.10.0/24 subnet is not in use on either side of the tunnel.)
  • DNS: (Optional) Address(es) of DNS servers to be used by this computer. It’s OK to leave this out – by default, WireGuard will use the underlying OS DNS servers.
  • ListenPort: (Optional) WireGuard listens on this port for traffic from its peer. It’s OK to leave this out – by default, WireGuard will select an unused port.

[Peer] Section

  • PublicKey: The public key of the remote peer. WireGuard uses this key to decrypt the packets sent from the peer, and encrypt packets sent to the peer.
  • PresharedKey: (Optional) This key will be used to encrypt the session. If specified, it is used in lieu of the public/private key pair for the peers.
  • AllowedIPs: A comma-separated list of IP (v4 or v6) addresses with CIDR masks which are allowed as destination addresses when sending via this peer and as source addresses when receiving via this peer.
  • Endpoint: (Optional) The address (or DNS name) and port of the remote peer. If specified, this peer will attempt to connect to the endpoint periodically.
  • PersistentKeepalive: (Optional) The number of seconds this peer waits before sending another keep-alive message. These messages “keep the session alive” through NAT.

I would appreciate comments on these descriptions so I can make them more helpful/useful.

Additional Thoughts

The following thoughts are refinements to the advice shown above.

    • The example above only allows traffic to/from the 192.168.4.0/24 and 172.30.42.0/24 subnets to travel through the tunnel. To send all traffic through the tunnel (say, to avoid prying eyes of your ISP, etc), you can set the AllowedIPs to 0.0.0.0/0. To send all IPv6 traffic through the tunnel, add ::/0
    • It neither necessary nor recommended to include the peer’s Address in the AllowedIPs list.
    • Although both Endpoint and PersistentKeepalive are listed as optional, you normally set both when using the macOS WireGuard client. Activating the tunnel (from the WireGuard menu), causes WireGuard to begin sending Keepalive packets to the Endpoint, which starts up the tunnel.
    • Dealing with NAT. If your ISP requires your remote peer to be behind NAT, you must configure your ISP’s router/modem to pass the WireGuard packets through. The setup varies from ISP to ISP, but in general, you’ll need to set up some kind of “virtual server”, “DMZ”, or “port forwarding” in the ISP router/modem to pass the WireGuard packets (on the port specified in the Endpoint) to the peer device.

Transmission of Covid-19

A friend (thanks, Ted!) directed me to a nice science-based article that assigns some probabilities of risks of transmitting a disease like coronavirus. The author highlights two major scenarios:

  1. Warm body transmission: how far apart should you be from other people if you want to avoid transmission from another “warm body”
  2. Surface-based transmission: what precautions should you take when you go somewhere that others have passed through recently.

You won’t be surprised by the takeaways:

  • 6 foot distancing is good
  • wearing a mask is good
  • washing hands is good

…but some of the discussion and details are interesting. View the full article at Medium.

Get a better microphone…

Now that we’re computer conferencing all the time, I needed a better microphone, (My MacBook Pro’s built-in microphone doesn’t work well. The volume is too low – perhaps there’s something wrong.) I suspect many others would benefit from a better microphone, too. Not only do they give a better sound, but a microphone close to the mouth minimizes other nearby sounds.

So I went on a quest to find a better solution. I found a variety of options, and tested several. I put my notes here so I can remember:

  • Bluetooth earpieces Any Bluetooth headset/earpiece that is advertised to work with your cellphone will probably work. They’re lightweight, have decent microphones, and boast a certain amount of noise cancellation. (Look for ones that can be paired to two devices, so you can use it with both your computer and your cell phone.) I own the Plantronics M70 – it works fine, and has 11-hour talk time (and when I don’t use it, the charge lasts for weeks). Apple AirPods or knock-offs should also work well, although I have not tested them.
  • Earbuds with cables Apple EarPods (corded) ($15 with shipping from MacSales) or from Amazon work fine for videoconferencing.
  • External microphone if you want to include multiple people on your end, or if you don’t want to be “cabled” to the computer… I own the Amazonbasics Desktop Microphone because it was highly-rated in a Wirecutter article. It works great.
  • USB Audio In Since not all computers have a combined headphone and microphone jack, you can add a USB “sound card” to virtually any computer. I checked out the TROND External USB AudioAdapter Sound Card and it works fine with all the 1/8 inch (3.5mm) audio inputs.
  • Gaming headsets These large (and heavy) headphones have a microphone on a stalk to pick up your voice. I own one, and it works just fine. But it’s obtrusive (viewers see those “cans” on my head) and not terribly comfortable. There are a zillion options: you can Google “gaming headset” to see the range.
  • My favorite For years, I used a Plantronics headset with my cordless phone. It’s lightweight, has good sound, and it’s cheap ($20). But it has a 2.5mm plug – so I bought an adapter cable ($8). This plugs right into the headphone jack of my MacBook Pro (both headphone and microphone work perfectly). But if this doesn’t work on your computer, get the TROND adapter.

All this assumes your computer has either USB, Bluetooth, or 1/8 inch/3.5mm headphone inputs. (All modern computers do.) I’ve included links to Amazon, but most items are available from lots of places.

Let me know what you’re using for your videoconferencing pleasure – richb.lyme@gmail.com. Thanks!

Enable Virtual Public Meetings

Change.org is hosting a petition calling on Governor Chris Sununu of NH to allow for “virtual meetings” for the normal business of towns and municipalities. I would include Select Boards as well as those listed below. As I said on the petition page:

It will be months before we are “back to normal”. Most town boards or committees might be able to “skip a meeting” because of an emergency. But real residents have real needs, and cannot realistically wait for boards that have been shut down for a protracted period of time.

Specifically, the petition requests the Governor to:

  • Allow and encourage for both state and local municipal boards to continue with standard timelines and regularly scheduled board hearings through a virtual meeting template, such as Zoom. This includes, but is not limited to, historic district commissions, conservation commissions, planning and zoning boards.
  • Allow and encourage board members, city staff, design professionals and the public to participate through an open video forum and email regardless of city or town charter.
  • Provide state guidelines on how the local municipalities should conduct meetings and insist that mandated timelines for board decisions be maintained.

If you agree, please go to the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/new-hampshire-governor-chris-sununu-enable-virtual-public-meetings-for-planning-and-zoning-boards-in-nh and pass the word to your friends. Thanks.


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.

Thank you to all my supporters

I have already sent a note of congratulations to Tim Cook on the race for the seat on the Planning Board.

I also want to thank everyone who voted for me. I still plan to advocate for reasonable housing options in Lyme as an alternate member of the Planning Board.

Over the next several months, I will be asking, “What are your plans?” for housing now, and as you move through life. I would be interested to hear your story.

Thank you again.

Rich Brown
795-2525


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.

Q&A re: Planned Developments

Once again, I am pleased to add a “guest post” to my blog. This one comes from Rusty Keith and others supporting the petitioned Planned Development amendment, Article 2 on the ballot for vote at Town Meeting on March 10. The Q&A was handed out at the public meetings held last month.


Planned Development Zoning Amendment – Questions and Answers

In March 2020, Lyme voters will be asked to permit Planned Developments on parcels that abut NH Route 10 in the Rural District. This change addresses several concerns:

Enforcement and Fairness: When zoning was approved over thirty years ago, a few small businesses existed in the Rural District along Route 10. They continue as “non-conforming business uses” and cannot change their use (to another business) or increase their intensity more than 50% from what existed prior to 1989. This causes several problems:

  • There are no records of the commercial intensity that existed 30 years ago. Consequently, it is impossible for the Planning Board, or the Select Board that must enforce the regulations, to determine what a “50% increase” might be. A year ago, Lyme experienced an expensive, time consuming, lawsuit over this very issue, resulting in a Town vote to expand the commercial district.
  • It is a burden on existing businesses as well. Successful companies evolve and grow. With the current ordinance, they find their operations are constrained by the regulations and they must spend time and money to justify their success.
  • It is unfair that neighboring properties must live with the impact of these non-conforming business uses while their property is restricted to residential use. Permitting business use on those properties decreases the unfairness.

Business: Current zoning only permits businesses in the small defined commercial districts of Lyme. Most property in these commercial districts is already developed, so Lyme is hampered because:

  • New business can’t find anywhere to locate in an allowed district.
  • Much of the Commercial District is now residential or tax exempt (for example, Crossroads Academy).
  • Loss of potential tax revenue from lack of businesses in Town
  • Low staffing for the fire department and other services during the business day because so few volunteers work in town.

Housing: The Master Plan recommends that Lyme “allow for a diversity of housing types suitable for people in a broad range of economic circumstances.” But the reality is that the ordinance only encourages single-family homes on separate lots. This leads to:

  • Low availability of alternate types of housing, such as senior and workforce housing, which call for small units clustered together with options to age in Lyme,
  • A lack of multigenerational living arrangements that benefit all their residents.
  • Risk of a Workforce Housing lawsuit, since today’s ordinance doesn’t permit economically feasible workforce housing to be built as NH Law requires.
  • New (expensive) homes being built farther and farther out of town, fragmenting neighborhoods, increasing transportation energy use, and encouraging sprawl.

This Planned Development amendment can help address all these problems.

Q: How does this amendment benefit Lyme?

A: The Planned Development provision of our ordinance provides greater flexibility to a landowner in the ways they may use their property, subject to site plan review approval.

Planned Developments permit multiple units in a building, and multiple buildings on a lot. This flexibility allows landowners to design small dwellings, multi-dwellings, and other options for neighbors who want to stay in Lyme when downsizing and for teachers, nurses, firefighters, and others who work here but otherwise couldn’t afford to live in town.

Planned Developments can be a mix of business, institutional, and residential uses. This permits a variety of designs, for example, retail on the first floor of a building and apartments above.

By permitting Planned Developments in more parts of town, Lyme expands the potential for tax base growth, provide an opportunity for both business and affordable, senior, and other housing, and levels the playing field for neighbors of “non-conforming” businesses.

Q: Why a change to the Planned Development definition?

A: The amendment adds “May be 100% residential or” to the beginning of the sentence to read:

PLANNED DEVELOPMENT. May be 100% residential or a mix of residential and institutional or business uses on a single lot in more than one building on a single lot.

This makes it clear that a Planned Development MAY be residential-only, in addition to being a mix of business/institutional/residential use. A business use would still require the inclusion of a 15% residential use.

Q: Where could Planned Developments be built?

A: This amendment would allow Planned Developments to be built (with Site Plan Review approval) on any property that abuts NH Route 10 in the Rural District. Planned Developments have been permitted in the Common and Commercial Districts since the adoption of zoning. In 30+ years since, no Planned Development has been built in those districts.

Q: Would this dramatically change the Route 10 corridor?

A: Probably not. There are several reasons:

  • Planned Developments are already permitted in both the Lyme Common District and the Commercial District. There hasn’t been any interest in building a Planned Development in those districts.
  • A large portion of the land abutting Route 10 has already been permanently conserved, and is not available for any sort of development. This amendment will not affect any of that property.
  • Dimensional controls will prevent “wall to wall” development, which could only be as large as would be permitted for a single-family home with its outbuildings.
  • Planned Developments must devote at least 15% of the floor area to residential use, which will cause the developer to consider the kind of business that is built.
  • Route 10 offers good and safe access for vehicular traffic for businesses. Consultants have advised the town that current traffic levels would support small, local business, but would never be attractive to large box stores.
  • Today, the small amount of vacant land remaining along this corridor is expensive. Buying an existing, developed property for reuse is most likely cost prohibitive.

Consequently, the facts on the ground (both economic and practical) argue against overbuilding in Lyme.

Q: Does this amendment propose any other changes?

A: Yes, there are two other changes.

The amendment removes restrictions on the kinds of businesses allowed in a Planned Development. Under the current ordinance, any type of business not specifically permitted is automatically denied. Not one of the existing seven businesses, north of the Common District, would be allowed under our current restrictions.  This change permits any business that can meet the Site Plan Review requirements in a Planned Development.

The amendment removes the requirement for a permanent easement on any undeveloped land in a lot used for Planned Development. The ordinance already sets limits for dimensional controls: the maximum footprint, lot coverage, setbacks, etc. for developments. A Planned Development cannot exceed those limits. Any future change or expansion would require another approval by site plan review. There is no need to bind future generations from finding new ways to use the land due to a permanent restrictive easement.

Q: Would this amendment permit massive buildings or overbuilding on a lot?

A: No. Dimensional controls for a Planned Development follow the same rules for the district. A Planned Development can be no larger than what could be built as a single-family home with its outbuildings, garages, workshops, barns, etc.

Furthermore, Site Plan Review is a careful process run by the Planning Board that reviews an applicant’s site plan to ensure it meets state and national laws, plus conformity to our local zoning regulations. These specific requirements control every development.

Summary

Planned Developments along Route 10 will benefit Lyme.

This proposed amendment makes it clear that more businesses would be welcomed in Lyme. It may encourage new businesses to locate in Lyme and provide goods, services, and jobs that residents find attractive and useful.

New businesses in town also add to the number of volunteers for services that help Lyme residents. One member of Lyme’s volunteer fire department noted that only two members work in town. If an emergency occurs during the work day, Lyme must currently draw most of its first responders from surrounding towns.

This amendment will “allow for a diversity of housing types suitable for people in a broad range of economic circumstances” (as recommended by the Master Plan) and foster business so that Lyme can be viewed as an active and lively community.

Give this amendment some serious thought and be sure to vote March 10th.  This is your town.

February 28 2020

The opinions expressed here are those of the guest poster: Rusty Keith.


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.