Here we are once again, looking back on the month that was. I have to say I am constantly amazed at all the activity. When you consider the items I don't list here (day to day plan review - resident assistance), a lot is going on. Thanks go to my staff for helping out and keep our heads above water.
CITY MANAGER'S GOALS
4. Continue to communicate with the community through hosting of periodic ward and neighborhood meetings such as quarterly Dover Discussions along with exploring new methods to increase interaction and participation by citizens in local governance and community forums.
The Department of Planning and Community Development continued to update its blog, face book page and twitter feed to communicate with the public. The Department of Planning and Community Development has 105 Facebook (City of Dover NH Planning) friends and 235 followers on Twitter @DoverNHPlanning).
During the month of April, three (3) Planning blog posts were drafted, including two discussing the American Planning Association’s national planning conference, which the Director of Planning and Community Development attended. The third entry summarized the March staff report.
The Director of Planning and Community Development lead a group of volunteers to do planting, raking, mulching and other clean up day activities on the lawn of City Hall as part of Dover Pride Clean Up day on April 30th.
The Department of Planning and Community Development, through the Sustainable Dover initiative, promoted the film Yert (Your Environmental Road Trip), at the Media Access Center in the McConnell Center through flyers posted, blog posting, facebook posts, promotion on Dover Download, press release distributed and posting the flyer of information on Channel 22.
The Department of Planning promoted the Dover Community Trail through the facebook fan page for the trail (with 241 fans), as well as a Sustainable Dover facebook fan page for the trail (with 85 fans). The Sustainability Coordinator lead a group of volunteers cleaning up the trail as part of Dover Pride Clean Up day on April 30th.
The Director of Planning and Community Development met with the Dover Listens group throughout the month to be part of the process in developing a more open and free discussion about issues and topics affecting the Dover community. While not a member of the Board, the Director does serve as an advisor for the group and hopes to attend their meetings to be a resource.
Finally, this month the Department of Planning and Community Development sent out 41 letters to new homeowners congratulating them on their purchase, as well as informing them of the current zoning for their property and alerting them to the various methods the department uses to inform and update the public.
8. Attend workshops and participate in other education opportunities to further continuing professional development.
In March, the Planning Department viewed three (3) web casts. The topics included encouraging public participation, ethics in planning, and what healthy communities need from a transportation network.
The Director of Planning and Community Development attended the American Planning Association’s national planning conference. The conference had three themes. The first was sustainability in community planning, the second was redeveloping a planning department to be more economically sustainable, and the third was ways to increase communications.
The Director of Planning and Community Development was selected to present at the New Hampshire Planners Association annual conference on the City of Dover’s sustainability efforts. This conference will occur in June.
9. Develop a closer working relationship with the School Department and all other City Departments. Further explore and pursue opportunities where City and Schools can combine and/share services for the benefit of the community and report to the City Council.
The Department of Planning and Community Development also continued to work with School Department staff on the development of future Safe Routes to School grant applications. This program would enhance crosswalks, sidewalks and signage as well as educate students and parents on the value of walking to school.
10. Support local businesses to aid in the community’s economic growth by working in conjunction with local economic development groups and business organizations.
The Department of Planning and Community Development met with local developers and business/property owners to discuss ways to create innovative and progressive regulations that do not discourage development or create a burden to economic growth.
12. Complete the implementation of the ongoing energy efficiency improvements and provide periodic reports of energy savings.
Johnson Controls (JCI) work continued at the Ice Arena. The water tower was completed and is working well. The overflow tank for the old tower was removed from the chiller room and the transformers are scheduled for installation on May 31. Staff is still reviewing a requested change order for McConnell Center lighting. The City is asking for back up data from JCI.
The walk through inspection was conducted for the electrical sub-panel on the second floor for the server room electricity and air conditioning. The contractor has several changes to make on the system before all the server racks are brought upstairs due to power disruption in the room.
The Department of Planning and Community Development had its first meeting with the representatives for the EPA new sustainability initiatives grant, which the City received in March. This technical service grant, awarded to 32 out of over 350 applicants nationwide, will allow the City to review regulations to ensure that they are encouraging sustainable/green practices.
The Department of Planning and Community Development presented an opportunity to the City Council for the city to participate in CBS Broadcasting’s EcoAds program. This program allows communities to be selected by advertisers on CBS’ television stations. A portion of the advertising revenue is then used to fund sustainable capital projects in the community. Dover is the first community in New England to work with CBS on this innovative opportunity.
GENERAL DEPARTMENT UPDATES:
The Department of Planning and Community Development focused on finalizing the Community Development Block Grant Action plan. This plan outlines how the community intends to expend the block grant funds, which the City receives from the Federal government. These funds had been proposed at a seven (7) percent reduction by the President, and a sixty-two (62) percent reduction by the US House of Representatives. Ultimately, Dover’s funding level was fourteen (14) percent lower than the previous year. The Planning Board approved the plan submitted by staff on April 26.
The Department of Planning and Community Development, through the Sustainable Dover initiative, presented the film Yert (Your Environmental Road Trip), at the Media Access Center in the McConnell Center on April 15th. Over twenty (20) people attended the event. In addition to showing the film, there was a lively discussion about sustainability in Dover, the project goals for the Sustainability work, and future projects/activities to undertake.
The Master Plan committee formed to update the Conservation and Open Space chapter of the plan has met three times since it was formed in March. Chaired by Lee Skinner of the Planning Board, the seven member committee is comprised of citizen volunteers as well as representatives of the Conservation Commission and Open Lands Committee. The existing chapter, which was last updated in 2000, has been analyzed by the committee and a plan for updating the various sections has been formulated. The committee has extensively utilized the conservation land data from the recently completed Conservation Lands Audit prepared for the City by Kane & Ingraham. The committee will be conducting a field trip in May to tour some of the existing conservation properties. The committee meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month in the first floor conference room at 5:30 PM. The public is welcome to attend these meetings and become involved in the master planning process.
The Department of Planning and Community Development prepared a simple trail easement document and some plans for Community Trail members to present to Downeast Energy to negotiate the needed trail easement for that portion (Fourth St along the river) of the trail. Staff applied for a grant for engineering work to finalize the design for this trailhead. A list of issues has been prepared as part of the negotiations and will be worked on by the trail subcommittee and staff.
A Request for Proposals to construct the under-Cochecho bridge portion of the trail across the Spaulding turnpike right of way has been sent out, a pre –bid meeting was held by staff where questions were answered and corrections to the bid docs were made. An on-site meeting was held right after the city hall meeting. Proposals are due on Monday May 9th, with staff performing the analysis of the bids and providing a recommendation by the end of the day on May 11th. The language issue with the agreements that are required for this work with the DOT has been resolved. The City Manager has signed both the maintenance agreement and the permit and they are now in Concord for the Commissioner’s signature. Insurance with the LGC has been obtained. Paperwork to extend the grant money to pay for this construction is being prepared to go out before May 5th.
A further Request for Proposals is being prepared by staff for the remainder of the lighting between the downtown bridge and Washington Street to get the best cost for installation. This should be completed by the middle of the month.
Planning staff continue to process the invoices and administer the financial decision aspects of the Signal Management Project. Staff worked on the procurement of an adequate computer asset to run the system. The signal control equipment located at Week’s Crossing is on order and slated to arrive for installation and/or swap out so the coordination and management communications may be implemented in that corridor in the next two weeks. The project is on schedule with no delays.
A final focus for the Department of Planning and Community Development in April was the review and preparation of the annual extraction permit review and approval process. The Zoning Administrator received applications through the month of March and into April and formalized a presentation to the Planning Board giving and overview of the process and regulations associated with extraction permits. Staff toured the pits, met with owners and their engineers and will be presenting recommendations to the Planning Board at its May 10th meeting regarding extending approvals of the permits.
DEPARTMENTAL COLLABORATION & ENHANCEMENTS
Planning and Community Development staff assisted the Community Services and Inspection staff with a review of outstanding issues on several projects, and took the lead on reaching out to the developers. The plans/projects are as follows:
• Newington Dover bridge
• The Village at Thornwood Commons
• Gladiola Way
Planning staff continues to work with Economic Development to review opportunities in Dover to be placed upon a list to request Economic Development Assistance monies from the federal government. This list was provided to the Strafford Regional Planning Commission, which is coordinating a regional request of projects.
Planning staff worked with land owners of property at the following locations on development or redevelopment opportunities:
• Sixth Street, between Indian Brook Drive and Venture Drive
• Technical Review for intersection of Sixth Street and Indian Brook Drive
• 46 Arch Street
• Appaloosa Drive
• 287 Gulf Road
• Technical Review for Basils Place
• Downtown property for a potential farmers market.
• Knox Marsh Road property for commercial development
• Brick Road
• 6 Grove Street
• UPS located on Industrial Park Drive
• Lilac Lane commercial project
The Department of Planning and Community Development recognized that during the month of April, Richard Jones, the Community Development Block Grant Coordinator celebrated his 23rd year with the City of Dover. Rick began his career with the City has the housing rehab specialist and took over responsibility for administering the CDBG program in the mid 1990s, and has remained in that position, as well as overseeing the City’s energy improvements project.