Last night, November 19th, 2007, the Somersowrth NH planning board met for it's monthly meeting. the hot topic of the meeting, amending chapter 19 of the Somersworth zoning ordinance - changing the minimum lot area from 1 to 3 acres in the agricultural zoning district.
Somersworth, like many other rural towns in southern New Hampshire, and surrounding areas has seen a tremendous growth of housing in the past 10 years. Many residents of Somersworth were on hand for the planning board meeting to voice their opinions and feeling regarding the planned amendment to the ordinance. Many of the citizens, along with representation of attorneys, felt that the proposed change was a way for the town and planning board to slow the growth process, and stop further subdivision of large parcels of land.
The proposal for change has been the topic of many workshops for the Somersworth planning board. They have looked at surrounding communities and did in depth research on the topic. Many board members made statements that in the zone, there are several lots actively using the land as agricultural, then there are several lots that are not being used that way. Many of the board member struggled to see an increase in agricultural uses in the future based on several factors such as the cost of living rising, and the successfulness of a small farm in a community such as Somersworth.
In the end, the proposed amendment for change was voted down, by a vote of 5-4. Many of the board member were not able to see how a change would help the land owners use the land to it's intended use, and also stated that from their point of view, the proposed amendment was not intended as a means to slow growth.
I would urge all of you who read this to pay attention to all of your local town planning board, and zoning board meetings. Changes that may effect you, or your business may be on the agenda!