February 10, 2011

Londonderry building on its future

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- The town of Londonderry remains in a period of sustainable growth, town officials determined earlier this month.During the Feb. 9 Planning Board meeting, Town Planner Tim Thompson shared results of the 2011 Growth Management Determination: an annual evaluation that most recently determined that Londonderry’s authorized number of housing units was slightly lower than those built in neighboring towns over the past year.
Thompson noted Wednesday evening that this year marks the town’s fourth consecutive year of sustainable growth. Based on the planning department’s recent findings, there will be no cap placed on building permits through 2011.
Thompson said such evaluations
 stem from an ordinance dating from the late 1980s that requires such an evaluation to be completed by March 1 of each year.
In order for the town to declare a period of “unsustainable growth,” various criteria must be met, with authorized building permits exceeding the average rate of dwelling unit authorizations over the six preceding
 calendar years.
Additionally, percentage increases in housing units must be equal or greater to the average rate increase in housing units for the previous year summed across six abutting communities: Auburn, Derry, Hudson, Litchfield, Manchester and Windham.
Lastly, the level of fiscal strain created by new dwellings is
 compared to the level of school enrollment versus capacity, strain on public facilities and the percentage of total budget appropriations made up of capital improvements.
According to town statistics, housing permits are the lowest they’ve been in three decades, tying with 2009 at 24 dwell­
ing units authorized. Housing hit its peak in 1985, when the town authorized 451 dwelling units. Just a decade ago, that number was 146. The six-year average is 81 permits. 

“In the last three years, the economy has definitely slowed our growth,” Planning Board Chairman Arthur Rugg said last night. 
Town planning officials noted that the town’s Growth Management Ordinance had yet to be challenged, and with the town’s phasing ordinance, potentially growth-inducing future projects such as the proposed Woodmont Commons development, would be required to be built at a sustainable pace. 
Thompson said the town’s last period of unsustainable growth was in 2006. 

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