2022 HollisWatch Zoning Amendment to Prevent Improper Interpretations of
Summary of Proposed Amendment
HollisWatch has proposed an amendment for the 2022 ballot. This amendment addresses specific interpretations of a zoning ordinance which have been abused, in our opinion, over the last few years. Each change addresses a prior decision of the Planning Board to interpret the existing language favorably for developers. The intent of this amendment is to clarify the language to prevent interpretations which are not favorable for Town residents.
1. Elaborate on the definition of subdivision by changing "shall" to "must" and adding the following statement.
"The division of land for the purpose of developing Housing for Older Persons or other development types of more than one unit on a single lot must be deemed a subdivision."
This elaboration has been put forth because the Planning Board failed to impose the open space set aside for parks and open space for many recent developments. Our subdivision regulations require that open space be reserved for a park area. However, the Planning Board interpreted the definition of subdivision as not including these projects per our ordinance because they were a single lot. This has resulted in at least three fewer parks for the Town.
Approved retirement houses on Cobbett Lane 52 units 3 Acres
Approved workforce housing on Old Runnels 32 units 2 Acres
Proposed retirement houses on Toddy Brook 50 units 3 Acres
The proposed elaboration, in combination with the existing subdivision language, will serve to protect the interests of Town residents as earlier Town leaders intended. Why would the planning board allow such an interpretation? This is our opportunity to step in as a town and set the path for future developments.
2. Clarify the definition of "net tract area" by adding the words predicated on predevelopment conditions and clarifying that man-made ponds are not to be considered dry land.
This clarification addresses a particularly egregious example of the interpretations made in favor of developers. In 2019 the Board approved the development of 32 condominium units on 9 acres. They allowed the developer to count a small man-made pond as dry land for the density calculation even though at the time of the application the pond was clearly not dry. The result was the pond approved to be filled and the density calculation included its area. The proposed language should prevent such contorted interpretations going forward. Why the Planning Board allowed this is beyond comprehension?
3. Clarify the definition of determination of density for condominium developments by specifically including housing for older persons developments and reinforcing the language that building area requirements must be met by adding the sentence, "It is required that each building must have an exclusive nonoverlapping building area in order to demonstrate compliance".
This clarification addresses an improper application of our ordinance where housing for older persons and other condominium developments are concerned. Even though the existing language clearly says that condominium developments must meet building area requirements, the Board has approved condominium projects without verifying this, and, thus, likely allowed more units to be built than our existing ordinance allows. The clarifying language more clearly states the intent of the existing language and should be harder for the Planning Board to ignore.
As you know, Hollis is experiencing an unprecedented building boom. Allowing high-density development and improper interpretations of our zoning ordinances has resulted in permanent loss of the rural population density we all cherish. We cannot recover these resources once they are developed improperly. It is important that we current residents vote to protect our town. Past residents and leaders have worked hard to preserve the Hollis we love. It is our responsibility to conserve our resources and rural lifestyle for those who will be our heirs. Please share this information with your fellow Hollis residents and Vote "Yes" for Amendment 6.
The full text of the proposed amendment can be found below: