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Clarifying Warrant Articles

March 12, 2019

Waterville Valley’s Town Meeting is tonight. The following information is provided by the Planning Board and specifically answers some of the questions that have been raised at the public meetings, and that have been bandied about town.


Warrant Article 3 (Amendment 2B)

Will public hearings be eliminated as part of the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) process?

No!  Public hearings, including noticing abutters by mail, is part of the Planning Board process for PUDs.  In addition, all public hearing notices, monthly meeting agendas and minutes are posted online.  [For example, on 9/26/18 the Town posted a notice for the 10/11/18 public hearing about all of the Planning Board amendments that are on this warrant.]

Does allowing PUDs in additional zoning districts potentially increase the density of our Town’s development?

No!  There are specific limitations for which a PUD allows flexibility, but the density limitations must be maintained.  Density limitations can be determined by dividing the parcel size by the minimum lot size of the district.  That is, if the minimum lot size for residential use in VC is ½-acre, a 3-acre parcel would have a density limitation of 6.  A PUD development would then be limited to 6 as well.

Will PUD land be clear-cut for development?

No more or less than any other development where buildings are planned.  Tree removal is necessary for site preparation. Commercial or condo/PUD residential developments require a landscaping plan, and need to have their landscaping approved by the Planning Board.  Moreover, because the buildings tend to be grouped, there would remain a larger portion of un-built land that would not need to be cut versus non-PUD development.  (In addition, we are surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest with approximately 148,000 acres of Congressionally-designated wilderness.)

Can existing cross-country/multi-use recreational trails disappear in a PUD?

No!  Trails protected by easements can only disappear if all parties to the easement legally agree.  For example, the Resort must agree to discontinue a trail for which it holds an easement before a property-owner can block or otherwise eliminate that trail.

Do PUDs have different street-facing setbacks than any other type of development?

No!  PUDs have flexible internal, not external setbacks.

Did Moose Run begin as a single family home community, making a PUD a nonsensical part of this development?

No!  It began as a mixed use community on VC land, in which single family homes on half-acre lots were (only) going to be along golf course.  Every lot east of that would be VC mixed use:  condos, multiplex townhomes, barbershop, etc.  This is how the subdivision was approved.  This is how it remains described in page 1 of its Covenants.  The association continues to be governed under these Covenants, with its clear description as a mixed use community.

Warrant Article 4 (Amendment 3)

Will this reduced setback change the character of the town?

No!  This amendment is only for the Commercial 1 District (C1) in the very center of town.  This is where the Planning Board seeks denser, pedestrian-friendly development.  In addition, setbacks are measured from the property boundary, which is usually 10 or more feet from the edge of the pavement.

Warrant Article 5 (Amendment 4A and 4B)

Why would the town want to eliminate minimum lot size or maximum lot coverage for residential use of Village Commercial (VC) land?

The VC District is where we want relatively dense responsible development to occur but with more mixed uses than in the C1 District.  Non-residential use already is free from minimum lot size and maximum lot coverage, and this amendment standardizes that ability across all types of development.

Is this “spot zoning”?

No!  It is in accordance with our existing Master Plan, not creating new type of zone, and will apply to all VC property in town.  We need to think 25, 50, 100 years down the road– buildings get torn down and land gets redeveloped.  Generally, spot zoning is taking a limited number of parcels and creating a new zoning district for a particular project.  These zoning changes were developed to support the Master Plan and comply with state law, and posted in September 2018, long before any particular projects were suggested. 

Is this a detriment to residential abutters of VC land?

No!  This article does not change external setbacks.  Any development would have to follow requirements for setback from the street and abutting properties.

Will we see a wall of homes right on the street as we walk/drive by?

No! This article does not change external setbacks.  Any development would have to follow requirements for setback from the street and abutting properties.

Will buildings be allowed to be squished together within the property?

No!  Setbacks between buildings on properties must be sufficient for public safety to provide coverage.

Can existing cross-country/multi-use recreational trails disappear by changing lot coverages?

No!  As described above, trails protected by easements can only disappear if all parties to the easement legally agree.

How can high-density development possibly preserve the look and feel of the town?

It must follow the same requirements as any development in town, it still has the same external setbacks as any development in town, plus it must follow the SAME quality, look and feel as other buildings in its association if it is in a development subject to by-laws, such as Moose Run.  It would not be possible to be an entirely different class of home.

Will higher density allow “tract housing”?

No!  Following our Master Plan means the Planning Board is not amenable to a cookie-cutter home development.  (See the sold-out Wellington Neighborhood, Breckenridge, Colorado for visual ideas on how this type of development can be done right.)

Will any increased new development hurt our town economically?

No!  Current water/sewer facilities are sufficient for maximum build-out for the entire Valley.  There are few times when we are working above 35% capacity.  Public Safety currently expects no staff changes due to build-out.  The elementary school can add 20+ children (total 45) with no facility or personnel changes.  Additional public high school student tuition should be supported by the additional taxes from the increased development.

What are some benefits to our town from increased new development?

·       Increased tax revenues minus anticipated additional costs– over less dense development

·       Increased vitality of town

·       New high quality home development creates new-product excitement, brings new buyers in, can raise all real estate values

·       Increased enrollment at elementary school

Warrant Article 6 (Amendment 5)

Will this let the Town turn any land into a parking area? No!  The planning board, based on our Master Plan, seeks more flexibility to require fewer parking spaces when sharing of paved areas can be shown.  For non-residential properties (like a restaurant or store) or condominium dwellings, this gives the Planning Board clear parking requirement guidelines in an easy-to-use table.  It corrects previous frustrations, like not allowing the Planning Board to count a garage space as a parking spot.  It also enables the Planning Board to revisit parking requirements when a commercial space changes use, such as from a restaurant to a laser tag arena.

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

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