In an earlier note, I detailed some of the characteristics that make senior housing attractive. This housing could include a combination of:
- Clustered homes and apartments with neighbors nearby for ease of access and social interaction
- A mix of unit sizes, to serve the differing needs of Lyme residents
- A variety of services: shared space for living and dining, on-site management and aides, garages, elevators, etc.
- Attractive (but not necessarily low-income) pricing
- Economic feasibility for a commercial developer
The Zoning Ordinance today only allows development like this in two places (“districts”): the Lyme Common District and the Commercial District near Pond View Apartments/85 Dartmouth College Highway. Could either of those districts support this kind of housing?
- Lyme Common District: Not really. The Planning Board’s recent build-out analysis shows that the Lyme Common District can only support a certain amount of “infill” development – adding one or a few units to the existing homes. There isn’t enough land, water, or septic capacity for significant new housing.
- Commercial District: Perhaps. But it’s more than two miles from the Lyme Post Office. Do we want to encourage development so far from the center of town?
What Could Lyme Do?
The Lyme Zoning Ordinance already defines a Planned Development that would allow the kind of housing envisioned above because it permits:
- Multiple buildings on a parcel
- Up to six business or dwelling units per building
- As much footprint, lot coverage and gross floor areas as allowed in the district
A simple adjustment to the ordinance – permitting a Planned Development other places in Lyme, perhaps anywhere on Route 10 – would remove a significant regulatory hurdle to better housing.
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