Note for the Lyme Town Candidate’s Page

I have asked to have the following message to be posted on the Lyme Town Website page for candidate statements

Looking for my thoughts on the Senior Housing amendment? See my previous post

Position on Planning Board: Rich Brown

My name is Rich Brown, and I am running for Planning Board. I moved with my wife (Lin Brown, a rheumatologist at DHMC) to Lyme six years ago, having lived for over forty years in the Upper Valley. In my time in Lyme, I have been involved with Those Guys, as an alternate on the Planning Board, as a local business owner (Loch Lyme Lodge), as a manager for LymeFiber, and for fun, I’m a beekeeper and The Juggler Man!

The Planning Board is the body that writes the rules for where and how people can build housing in Lyme. As part of educating myself about the issues, I have attended national, state, and local housing conferences. I have learned:

  • Housing is expensive: modestly-priced homes are scarce
  • Restrictive zoning rules are a major cause of high cost and limited supply
  • To downsize, or simply to live more lightly on the land, people usually must look outside Lyme

I feel a sense of urgency about our housing problems in Lyme. In 2016, the informal “Aging in Place” group proved the need for senior housing. Regrettably, it has taken the Planning Board five years to bring forward a Senior Housing amendment. The Board envisions another year of study before considering whether to expand it to other parts of town. This is not solving problems for Lyme.

I feel the same urgency for other kinds of housing. I know of at least five Lyme families who are seeking smaller homes who probably will not be able to remain in town. This Board has consistently voted against at multiple proposals over the years that could have been helpful to these families.

If elected, I will advocate for a variety of housing types to enhance the community and to live up to the Master Plan’s recommendation to “… allow a diversity of housing types suitable for people in a broad range of economic circumstances.”

I would appreciate your vote for the Planning Board position. You can read more at www.richb-lyme.com or contact me at richb.lyme@gmail.com 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 body, such as the Lyme Planning Board where I am an alternate member. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts – you can reach me at richb.lyme@gmail.com.

What about Senior Housing – Article 2?

Despite its flaws, I had initially considered supporting the Senior Housing amendment. But when I thought about what would be required to make amendment into a workable proposal, it was clear the current language is simply a bad starting point.

I have already detailed the problems with its age restrictions, location, and the poison pill. Those could be fixed.

But the Board’s focus on the Lyme Common District meant that any development was constrained to “fit into the neighborhood” and not be “too big”. Specifically:

  • The footprint and floor area restrictions mean that common areas, such as dining and living rooms, libraries, space for support staff, etc. all take floor space away from the (already small) homes.
  • Only 10 units are allowed, which translates to expensive units. The cost of land purchase, infrastructure (septic, water), utilities, common areas, and developer profit (yes – a developer will want to make money) must be spread across a small number of homes, increasing their price.
  • The language contains other provisions that deter a developer who might want to develop senior housing.
  • Despite the desire to limit the total footprint, the permitted structures (up to 12,000 sf) are a lawsuit waiting to happen. Would neighbors object to such a large building? Quite possibly. And developers avoid towns where lawsuits are likely.
That’s why I recommend we vote down Article 2, and ask the Planning Board to come up with a proposal that will actually give someone the incentive to build Senior Housing.


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 body, such as the Lyme Planning Board where I am an alternate member. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts – you can reach me at richb.lyme@gmail.com.

Running for Planning Board

Dear Lyme Neighbor,

I have filed to become a candidate for Planning Board. As you probably know, the Planning Board sets the rules (through the zoning ordinance) for where and what kind of housing can be built in town.

In my six years in Lyme, my 15 years of working for housing options, and from attending national, state, and local conferences, I have learned:

  • Housing remains expensive. Reasonably-priced units are scarce
  • Long-time residents end up looking outside Lyme if they want a smaller place – to downsize or simply to live lighter on the planet
  • Restrictive zoning rules are a major cause of high cost and limited supply

Regrettably, the issues today are the same as in my previous campaign. You can read what I wrote last year at https://richb-lyme.com/why-im-running-for-planning-board/

The Planning Board has spent the past year arguing for the limitations of the senior housing amendment that they had produced – and pulled from consideration – before last year’s town meeting. None of the public comments were incorporated – to permit senior housing in other parts of town or to lower the age requirement. It remains a restrictive plan for expensive senior apartments in a limited district.

If elected, I will advocate for a variety of housing options that meet the needs of Lyme residents. If these issues are important to you, please vote for me on the paper ballot (absentee ballots are available now!) or in-person on Tuesday, March 9. Thank you!

Rich Brown

Where can you learn more? Visit my blog at www.richb-lyme.com, e-mail me at richb.lyme@gmail.com or call me: 795-2525. I’d love to chat!


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 body, such as the Lyme Planning Board where I am an alternate member. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts – you can reach me at richb.lyme@gmail.com.