Sunday, March 10, 2019

Town Meeting on Tuesday!

Just a reminder - Tuesday, March 12th is Town Meeting Day!

The polls will open at Noon at the Recreation Department Gymnasium and will be open until 5:00 pm so please stop by and vote.  There will be an election of officers - Selectman, School Board member, Supervisors of the Checklist, etc.  There are also 7 questions regarding amendments to our Town Zoning Ordinance.  I reviewed the proposed changes in my previous blog post, so check it out if you would like my perspective on these changes.

At 5:30 pm we will call the Deliberative session to order and take up about 21 warrant articles pertaining to the Town Budget and other matters that are your prerogative to vote on.  There will be an opportunity for discussion about each of the warrant articles before you vote.  The warrant articles include:

  • An $880,000 Bond Issue for a new Ladder Truck for the Fire Department
  • A $250,000 Bond Issue for a new Trash Truck
  • A $150,000 Bond Issue for the repair, and construction of hiking/biking/cross country ski trails in the center of town including around Corcoran Pond
  • A 4-year lease of a new back-hoe loader for the Highway Department
  • A 3-year lease of a new 15 passenger bus for the Recreation Department
  • $88,300 to purchase a parcel of property between the Golden Eagle Lodge and the Beach at Corcoran Pond
  • $75,000 for repairs to the Osceola Library
  • Establishing a Capital Reserve Account for on-going maintenance at the Curious George Cottage
  • Funding for existing capital accounts for things such as the Emergency Road Repairs, Water and Sewer Emergency Repairs, and the Corcoran Pond Dam Project.

In addition to these financial items of business, there also are other things to discuss and vote on, such as:

  • 2 proposed amendments to Selectmen's Ordinances on Trash Disposal
  • A proposal for Town support for a non-denominational chapel on Town-owned land in the middle of the village
  • A petitioned warrant article to increase the Board of Selectmen from 3 to 5 members
  • A petitioned warrant article to split the Town Meeting into two parts - the first part will remain on the second Tuesday of March, and the second part will be on the following Saturday with a time specific as determined by the Selectmen.

This is one of the busiest Town Meeting agendas that we have had since I arrived almost 18 years ago!  I hope that your schedule doesn't interfere with you ability to attend.  In case you are coming straight from work, the Waterville Valley Parent's Organization at WVES will be holding their annual soup dinner in the multi-purpose room at the Rec Department from 4:30 to 5:30.  Even if you aren't coming from work, we hope you can join us for a time of fellowship and food as we prepare for Town Meeting.

See you on Tuesday!


Friday, February 22, 2019

Recent Public Meeting on Proposed Zoning Ordinance Changes

Hi All!

The Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen held a joint informational meeting Monday afternoon regarding the proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.  The meeting was very well attended and was an in-depth discussion of each of the proposed changes and what they might mean for future development here in the Valley.

In an effort to get additional information out to all interested parties, here is a link to the video taken at the meeting.  The video is about an hour and a half long, but the information that was covered is important to understanding the overall goals for the changes. Even if you do not agree with the Planning Board in the end, it is a good idea to be as informed as you can be prior to casting your vote!

If you would like a copy of the slides used at the meeting so you can follow along, give us a call at Town Hall (603) 236-4730 or stop by and we will make you a copy.

I hope you find this link informative and helpful as you make up your mind for Town Meeting 2019.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Proposed Zoning Changes

At Town Meeting this year (March 12th), voters will be asked to decide on seven different amendments to the Town's Zoning Ordinance.  The Zoning Ordinance is the main document controlling land use here in the Town.  It is a key reference the Planning Board uses when evaluating proposed land development projects that come before them.  As such, it is very important that the document is up to date with current state laws and that it reflects the current land use values of the community.

The Planning Board discussed these changes over several months and reviewed many different scenarios for each of the changes.  In the end, a majority of the Board approved of these changes and moved them forward to the ballot for final vote.

So what are the changes?  Below is a summary of the each of the changes and what they are seeking to do in simplified terms.

Amendment 1: Would make minor modifications, corrections, clarifications, and updates throughout the Zoning Ordinance.

Mark's Comments - As the wording of the amendment states, these word changes are primarily editorial in nature.  Making case agree, correcting spelling or numbering, correcting references to a particular paragraph, etc.

Amendment 2: Would: (A) Modify the allowed uses in each Zoning District (Article IV), increase opportunities for business and recreation, and change several Definitions accordingly (Article Ill C.); (B) Remove the retail setback exemptions (Article IV.C.8. and IV.H.11) while enabling the Planning Board to approve Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) in Higher Density Residential, Village Commercial and Commercial1 Districts for more flexibility in site design for all uses, and eliminating extra step of Select Board review for PUDs (Article V.O.); and (C) Consolidate lists of permitted uses, accessory uses, conditional uses and special exceptions for each Zoning District (Article IV) into a single table.

Mark's Comments - Our current PUD regulations are not consistent with current NH State Law and this amendment seeks to correct these deficiencies.  
   The other changes in this amendment makes changes to encourage business development within the Town Core surrounded by Valley Road, Snow's Brook Road and Tecumseh Road.  
   The development of a new summary of uses table in Article IV is intended to help clarify the different uses in each Zoning District and make it easier for users to find information.

Amendment 3:  Would amend Article IV.H.9.a. by reducing the front setback in Commercial 1(C1) from 35 ft. to 20ft.

Mark's Comments -  The Commercial 1 (C1) Zoning District is the area the Town has identified for the most dense land use in our community.  We currently have a 35-foot front setback in our regulations which actually works against increased density.  The Planning Board is recommending that this setback be decreased so more dense development could occur in the C1 Zoning District.

Amendment 4:  Would make the following three changes to enable a higher density of development in the village center :
                            A. Amend Article IV.C.5.a. to eliminate the minimum lot size for residential uses in Village Commercial (VC) District.
                            B. Amend Article IV.C.S.b. by eliminating the maximum lot coverage for residential development in Village Commercial (VC) District.
                            C. Amend Article IV.C.S.d. by making the open space requirements in Village Commercial (VC) the same for all uses.

Mark's Comments - The three changes being proposed in this amendment follow the same logic as Amendment 3.  The Village Commercial (VC) Zoning District is where we want relatively dense development to occur but with more mixed uses than in the C1 Zoning District.  Consequently, there are residential uses allowed in the VC zone.  In an effort to help ensure that dense development can occur in this zone, the changes allow for smaller lots and eliminating maximum lot coverage requirements.  These changes make more dense development of any VC zoned land possible.

Amendment 5:  Would modify the parking requirements and give the Planning Board the authority to approve more flexible parking arrangements (Article V. B and C).

Mark's Comments - The proposed changes make parking requirements applicable to new and expanded buildings.  The changes also clarify requirements for access on internal roads and for off-street parking.

Amendment 6:  Would strengthen the Outdoor Lighting Regulations to protect dark skies and prevent glare (Article V .S.). Adds exemptions such as holiday lighting and illumination of flags.

Mark's Comments - The wording of the amendment fully explain the proposed changes.

Amendment 7:  Would rezone the Village Commercial (VC) District on the south side of Tripoli Rd. across from the municipal complex comprised of Lots #107-002000 and #107-001000 to Lower Density Residential (LDR) District consistent with the existing use.

Mark's Comments -  There are two lots on the south-west side of Tripoli Road (left side as you are going up to the ski area) which are currently zoned Village Commercial and the Planning Board proposes to change them to Lower Density Residential (LDR).  The LDR zoning is more in line with their current use and character.

The full text of all of the proposed changes can be found at this link to the Planning Board Page of the Town Website.  When you come to the page, click the button on the left side of the page marked, "Proposed Zoning Changes 2019".

While you might not agree with all of these proposed changes, we would appreciate your consideration and support of the work that the Planning Board members have done over the past several months.  They have taken an all encompassing look at these changes and our current land use climate here in Town.  The Board's extensive review has been done in cooperation with a professional planner who has over 15 years of experience in land use issues - including other resort communities.

Planning Board members are proposing what they feel are the most effective and necessary changes in our ordinance at this point in time.  Most importantly, the Board is committed to continuing the land use review throughout 2019 and will propose additional changes at the 2020 Town Meeting if they are warranted.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Budget Time!

It is the time of year when we conduct hearings on our budget plans and proposed bonds for capital purchases.  On Wednesday, February 6th at 6:00 p.m. we will have our hearing at the Recreation Department Multi-purpose Room.  Anyone interested in our Town is invited, and encouraged, to attend these hearings.  We appreciate your participation and value your thoughts on how we conduct Town business here in Waterville Valley.

Here in New Hampshire, we practice direct Democracy - one person, one vote at Town Meeting.  And as we practice this form of governance, everyone gets to express their opinion about how things should run.  The budget hearing is a key part of our governmental process because it gives you a chance to hear what the Selectmen and other community leaders think about our town and how it should be run.  The Town Meeting is the legislative body of the Town and is the only means of appropriating money to fund our Town operations, which means it is critical for everyone to be fully informed on the issues our Town faces and the plan for meeting those challenges.

We have posted the proposed budget on the Town Website at this link.  There are also hard copies of the documents at the Post Office and Town Hall.  This year the proposed budget is approximately $111,613 or 4.0% higher than our 2018 Approved Budget.  This is a larger increase than we have had over the past few years.  There are two factors impacting the budget request.  The first is in personnel costs as we are transitioning in new staff as others retire.  We are training new personnel while we still have our current staff here to ensure there is no interruption of services during the changeover.  We are also incurring costs for training and certification of the new staff.  Also with personnel, we are proposing a new position in the Recreation Department to allow us to develop and deliver new programming.  This is the other impact on our budget request - new Recreation Department programs.  We are proposing a new focus on hiking in an effort to increase the use of our excellent trail network and bring new visitors into the Valley.

This is only a short summary of the 2019 Town Budget and the major impacts on the bottom line.  Please join us if you can on Wednesday evening and listen to a full presentation, ask some questions and provide us with your feedback.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Living in the Snow Globe

The 18/19 snow season has lived up to the expectations.  A year like this really show us why Tom Corcoran felt this was an ideal spot to 

The recent snow events here in the Valley have been great from the Nordic and Alpine Skiing perspective, but this great natural snow cover creates a special set of challenges for our Public Works crew.  More snow means more plowing and salting on the roads and sidewalks.  Once the plowing stops there is additional work to push-back snow banks, digging out fire hydrants and drainage structures, and do the final salt and sand runs on the sidewalks.

DPW crews add another load of salt to a plow truck on a snowy afternoon.

Please be conscious of difficult travel conditions and give the plow vehicles a wide berth.  Visibility from the truck is restricted by plow equipment and the crews are usually working in poor weather situations which limits their view from the truck even more.  The Ski Resort operates a great shuttle bus service - please consider uses that service instead of driving a private vehicle from the Valley to the Ski Area.  The reduction in the number of vehicles helps the Town service roads and clean up after storms

All of the snow hasn't come in large storms.  We have had several events that brought small amounts of snow along with ice and freezing rain conditions.  Even small storms cause our crew to be out early and/or stay late to get and keep our roads safe for residents, property owners and guests.  Our crew has already treated roads for snow and ice issues more this year than in the period November 15 to March 31st of the 17/18 season - and we still have two and a half months to go in this season!

Thank you for your patience as we treat the roads and for your help in keeping everyone safe in winter weather conditions.  Enjoy your time on the slopes or on the trails!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A New Welcome for 2019!

We welcome you to the Town of Waterville Valley, NH - 2019!  This year promises to be an exciting time to enjoy all the Town has to offer here in the middle of the White Mountain National Forest.  We hope you will visit and enjoy our Town and Resort amenities - including the new programs that we are planning for 2019.

For those of you who have not been here in the last month or so, we have a new greeting for you as you enter the Valley!  Here is a picture of our new entrance sign which was installed just before the Christmas holiday.

The sign is very visible from the Tripoli Road/Valley Road intersection and is designed to let new visitors know that there is a community beyond the turn to the Ski Area. 

The circular icons at the bottom of the sign will be used to guide guests around town to key venue locations.  We intend to have businesses install the icons on their buildings to help show guests where the venues are located and we will use the same icons on directional signs on trails and paths to different locations.

We have received suggestions for a message on the back of the sign which is highly visible leaving Town on Valley Road.  We are discussing what the best message is for the back of the sign and we will have something to add to the sign in the spring.

We would like to thank the taxpayers of Waterville Valley for their support of this sign and all of the valuable ideas and suggestions we received during the design of the sign.  We think this is a great addition to our community gateway and a great first step in our efforts to improve signs here in the Valley.