Monday, November 9, 2009

The Public Is Invited to Zoning Information Sessions

The City of Dover is pleased to announce two information sessions to be held in November focused on the proposed zoning amendments before the City Council. The first session will be held Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 7 pm and the second will be held Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 9 am. Both sessions will be held in the 3rd floor meeting room of the McConnell Center.

At the October 14th, 2009 City Council meeting the Council tabled final action on the amendments pending two “informal” sessions for residents to learn about the amendments. According to Planning Director Christopher Parker, the sessions will be a relaxed question and answer based session. “My intention is not to have a presentation for attendees, rather Planners will be available to answer questions and help residents understand the amendments.”

Following the lead of the City Manager’s quarterly Dover Discussion sessions, there will be a free flow discussion regarding the amendments. Parker stated that there will be maps on the wall showing the 2 areas proposed for changes in zoning districts, and exhibits for the Form Based Code development, but they will be resources and not the sole discussion point. “My hope is to help people understand the 29 amendments, of which over half are housekeeping in nature.”

These sessions continue the interact process used to develop and promote these amendments. Included in this process have been numerous opportunities ranging from a Visual Preference Survey, two charrette, stakeholder interviews, and 4 public hearings, the most recent of which was held the night of October 14th. The sessions will be open to all in the City, and Parker hopes that turn out is a good mixture of volunteers, policy makers and residents. “Planning staff is happy to engage the public and hopes that residents, business owners, and property owners will attend one if not both sessions. We have received positive feedback in our office on these proposals, and look forward to continuing to work with residents to understand them.”

On August 11, 2009 the Planning Board forwarded 29 amendments to Chapter 170 – Zoning to the City Council for adoption. Work on these amendments began in May of 2008, though the genesis of some reaches back to 2006 during the work to create the 2007 update to the Land Use Chapter of the Master Plan.

These amendments reflect an in-depth public review of the zoning code. Planners believe they are sound and based upon rational review and the contents of the 2007 Land Use chapter of the Master Plan. The Council held a workshop on September 2nd.

There are 17 “housekeeping” amendments. These are editorial/ clerical amendments, and reflect organizational changes and a goal of making the Zoning Code more user/reader friendly. Additionally, there are two environmental amendments in response to changes in State of New Hampshire statutes, specifically adjustments to the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act. Wetlands proposals reflect a need to clarify uses within wetlands and buffers and to include language for mitigation of disturbances.

A handful of dimensional amendments reflect the desire to promote rear – private yards on smaller lots, and to review transfer of development rights programs and create incentives for redevelopment of industrial parcels, and to tweak districts to reflect development trends. Finally, there is the creation of a new downtown district, to replace the three in place today. This district embraces the principals of Form Based Code.

Form Based Code is designed to promote the historic development patterns in downtown Dover. The Code emphases form over function and the fact that buildings will outlast their initial uses. Its goal is to promote a development environment, which reflects the historic character of the existing downtown and encourage flexibility of uses to support Dover’s downtown vitality.

Previous to the Planning Board action, the Board held a public hearing on July 28th, 2009. At that meeting staff collected concerns and ideas, and made changes that were presented before the next public hearing on August 11th, 2009. These changes were approved as part of the overall proposed amendments, and mainly reflected concerns about architectural standards within the Form Based Code. Those standards are now suggestions and not requirements.

For more information regarding the information sessions, please contact the City of Dover Planning Department at 516-6008.

No comments:

Post a Comment