Housing Chapter – 11 April 2024

On Thursday, 11 April 2024, the Lyme Planning Board had a good discussion of how we should set out goals for a Housing Chapter of the Lyme Master Plan. All board members had previously submitted proposed goals. The intent is to present an initial set of goals to the residents of Lyme to get their reaction, and use that to formulate the chapter.

After the meeting, I sent this summary of my notes (appended) to David Robbins, who forwarded them to the other members of the Planning Board.

You can view the video of that meeting at: https://youtu.be/icxSjH3ZyUA

Good morning Dave,

Here are my thoughts from last night’s meeting. Would you pass them along to Vicki (and perhaps the other members)? Thanks.

  • Vicki did a terrific job of focusing our disparate thoughts. It was also helpful to hear about the process that Hanover used, and how we can use the best parts of what they did.
  • I agree that we should set out a goal of a certain number of new housing units. (Number to be determined.)
  • I accept the modification of the “kids from Lyme” goal to use criteria like “a person with a good job” should be able to find a housing option. (Income level to be determined).
  • I accept the modification of the “downsizing” goal to the more general goal of permitting multi-family dwellings. (Tim pointed out that these would likely be condos or apartments.)
  • I agree that the discussion of dimensional controls is not a goal. However, I would ask the Board to reserve time to review the existing controls (lot size, lot coverage, setbacks, conservation overlays, etc.) to see how they can help us meet our housing goals.
  • Here’s a simple statement of a Workforce Housing goal. I took it from page 3 of the UVLSRPC Housing Needs Assessment [1]. See also the Workforce Housing information at [2], and [3] below. Proposed goal:
    Lyme will comply with New Hampshire’s Workforce Housing Statute, RSA 674:58-61, which states that all municipalities must provide reasonable and realistic opportunities for the development, as well as their “fair share” of workforce housing stock.
  • We also touched briefly on “mixed use” or “planned development” that combine housing with retail/commercial space. This is a traditional development pattern in small towns (store on first floor, apartments above) that expands the ability for people to work and live in their town. Proposed goal:
    Lyme will expand the parts of town where mixed use or planned developments may be built. (Limits to be determined.)
  • We also touched on the notion of building “closer to town”. I’m not quite sure how to express this as a goal, but allowing this kind of development would help to provision town services (fire, police), health-related (Parish Nurse, home help agencies), and as a partial antidote to loneliness.
  • We should keep in mind that the Planning Board can only affect the rules that govern development. For example, although we can (and should) encourage people to build energy-efficient buildings, we have no ability to enforce or incentivize it.
  • We must avoid circular logic. I felt this was beginning to happen in the context of a “25 unit development”. It’s obvious there must be a significant septic system, which will certainly be expensive. But that’s not a justification to say, “That will be expensive, so the ordinance doesn’t need to allow that kind of use.” Instead, we should require (as we already do) that the applicant demonstrate that a state-approved system can be built, and review the rest of development to see if it meets our goals.

Thanks for a great meeting.


[1] Regional Housing Needs Assessment: https://www.uvlsrpc.org/files/4016/7700/5373/UVLS_RHNA_Final.pdf
[2] Summary of Workforce Housing Law: https://www.nhhfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/NH_Workforce_Housing_Law_Summary.pdf
[3] NH Workforce Housing Definition: https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIV/674/674-58.htm