Linkblog-8 Nov 2020

A few items from the news:

Workforce Housing Forum The NH Business & Industry Association will sponsor a forum on Workforce Housing this Thursday morning, 12 November at 10:00am. The focus will be on providing housing for workers, to help the economy grow, and to help employers recruit and retain talent. The registration is $25. I’m signed up to attend the video conference and will publish notes here next week. For more information: https://bianhassoc.wliinc23.com/events/2020-BIA-Forum-on-Workforce-Housing-405/details

Housing Forum: Needs, Trends & Opportunities Friday 10am brings another housing forum, this one sponsored by Space on Main in Bradford. Many local groups  plan to bring their voices. To register (no cost) and for more information, please visit: https://thespaceonmain.org/housing

Build Resiliency and Foster Civic Pride UNH Extension published an article about how, even with social distancing, towns can find ways for their residents to gather and build community. https://extension.unh.edu/blog/build-resiliency-foster-civic-pride


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.

“Outskirts to Downtown” from NHHFA

New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority presents two sessions about land use, taxes, and good planning practices.

Today’s session (29 Oct 2020, 11am) will be looking in detail at three Upper Valley towns: Claremont, Hanover, and Lebanon. Register at https://www.nhhfa.org/event/from-the-outskirts-to-downtown-taxes-land-use-value-in-upper-valley-communities/ The session will be recorded, so you can go back to that page to view it in a day or two.

The previous session was held on 15 October 2020. The recording and presentation slides are now available at: https://www.nhhfa.org/taxes-land-use-value-analysis-by-joe-minicozzi-urban3/

I hope that you can find the time review one or both of these sessions – their presentations are always valuable.


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.

Senior Housing Forum – Bring your stories…

As I think about tomorrow’s meeting, I realize that it would be helpful for the Planning Board to hear stories from Lyme residents.

What might you want from “Senior Housing”? I wrote a post a while back that you can use as a starting point. See What are your plans? and bring them to the Planning Board’s Zoom call. (See the Zoom link below.)

If you cannot attend the Zoom conference (there are a lot of other events, see below), please consider sending a note with your thoughts to the Planning and Zoning administrator, zoning@lymenh.gov Thanks!

Rich Brown
RandomNeuronsFiring.com
795-2525

Other Events on Thursday: It is regrettable that so much is happening tomorrow evening.

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

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.