Spring is Coming

First up, more information on the proposal by CATCH Neighborhood Housing to develop affordable housing at 95-97 Village Street.  What is proposed is six new residential buildings accommodating 42 units.  There are two landowners involved.  The “Water Tower” lot is owned by the City and was originally set aside to be used for cemetery expansion.  It has no frontage, so it can only be developed if combined with another piece of property.  A few years ago, the Penacook Community Center made a request to purchase it, which was approved, with a determination that there currently exists another 125 years or so of available cemetery land without the Water Tower parcel.  When the PCC’s expansion plans fell through, they put their land for sale, CATCH made them an offer, and also offered the City to purchase its parcel.  CATCH plans to move forward with plans for either the PCC parcel alone or the PCC and City parcels.  Therefore, if CATCH’s proposal is not accepted by the City, the Water Tower lot will stay dormant, with no potential for improvements or revenue.

The first step for CATCH has been to request zoning changes to accommodate the proposed project.  At the Zoning Board’s April 3 meeting, it was decided 5-0 in favor of granting the variance allowing development on a lot with only 148.2’ of frontage when the minimum frontage requirement is 150’.  Then at the April 17 Planning Board meeting, the Board recommended the rezoning of property from Residential to General Commercial which allows for the multifamily dwellings that are proposed by CATCH.  Now the matter will be taken up by City Council with a public hearing for the May 13 meeting (7:00 pm in Council Chambers on Green St.) to decide whether to change the zoning as recommended, which would allow for a purchase and sale with CATCH of the Water Tower lot.  If you are unable to attend on May 13, you can send your comments to the City Clerk Janice Bonenfant: jbonenfant@concordnh.gov. Relevant documents, including a March 22 report that provides additional information can be found here: Council Agenda 5-13-19 Item 48H.  Also helpful is an additional report from March 29: Report and Agreement. The reports detail the proposed project and also discuss affordable housing in Concord. 

Also note that if Council approves the zoning change, the CATCH site plan will need to be approved at Planning Board. This will provide residents with an additional opportunity to provide input.  The earliest the public hearing could be held is at the June 19 Planning Board meeting, and I’ll send you an update with that information.  

Concord and the nation have an affordable housing crisis.  Concord has an overall housing crisis, with vacancy rates hovering at around 1-2%.  My research indicates that there are currently about 40 affordable housing apartments in Penacook (excluding those restricted to seniors), which accounts for 4% of the City total.  The majority of the City’s affordable housing is located in the Heights and Downtown.  Three residential housing projects have been discussed lately in Penacook: the CATCH proposal, the Caleb Project at the former Tannery site, and apartments at the former RIVCO site.  While there is no new information to report on the latter at this time, the expectation is that ground will break at the Tannery site in September.  Housing construction will help ease the crisis; it will also provide economic benefits of additional local consumer spending.  Penacook needs more consumer foot traffic and more residents to spur on commercial development growth, which in turn will help lower our taxes.  If you have any questions or want more information please write back.

Major site plan approval and granting of a conditional use permit for the 212 Fisherville Rd development of a Domino’s pizza and Aroma Joe’s coffee shop occurred at the April 17 Planning Board meeting.

During May and June, City Council will be holding its budget meetings.  All meetings are open to the public, and your comments are welcome.  Here is the proposed subject matter schedule:
Fiscal Year 2020 Finance Committee budget schedule — Concord City Council Chambers
May 16 (Thursday) Budget Delivery to City Council 
May 20 (Monday) 5:30 PM City Manager’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Presentation
May 23 (Thursday) 5:30 PM General Government (Administration) (Police, Fire, General Services)
May 30 (Thursday) 5:30 PM Community Development (Library, Parks and Recreation, Human Services, Capital Improvement Program)
June 3 (Monday) 5:30 PM Special Revenue Funds (Parking, Airport, Conservation Property, Golf Course, Arena, Solid Waste, Water, Wastewater)
June 6 (Thursday) 5:30 PM Public Hearing Action (Budget Adoption)