New Main Wheelock zoning district to expand residential development

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Proponents of the mandate article, which was approved May 10 at the Hanover town meeting, hope the change will ease housing shortages on campus and lead to further development on West Wheelock Street.

by Parker O’Hara | 42 minutes ago

Due to the pandemic, the Hannover Selectboard has postponed the town hall meeting until July for the second year in a row in order to hold the meeting outdoors.

During the Hannover municipal assembly on Tuesday May 10, the inhabitants vote 775-565 to approve Section 11, establishing the new Main Wheelock zoning district that will allow for “higher density residential development” along West Wheelock Street, according to city documents. Students and residents of Hannover hope that this change will alleviate the housing shortage in the Upper Valley and limited on-campus accommodation.

Director of Hannover’s planning, zoning and codes department, Robert Houseman, said the zoning changes include decreasing required setbacks – the distance from the edge of the lot to where building is permitted – to allow more construction on each lot, increasing the permitted height of buildings by 58%, increasing dwelling occupancy limits, and decreasing the number of parking spaces required per dwelling.

A similar article that would have established the West Wheelock Gateway district was proposed in 2015 but failed by a vote of 719-453. David Millman ’23, who submitted the Main Wheelock District petition amendment with Nicolás Macri ’24 in February, said he was pressured to reintroduce an updated version of the amendment after seeing a lack of progress toward increasing the number of on-campus housing. .

“The real impetus for [proposing the amendment] was the Lyme Road housing project. I was on the student focus group for this, and it seemed like such an impractical solution to our housing problem,” Millman said. “I felt that if the students did nothing to [the housing problem]nothing was going to be done.

The South Lyme Road The housing project outlined a plan to build apartment-style undergraduate housing above Garipay Fields, a recreational area about 1.5 miles from the Green. The project was supposed to start by the end of this year, but faculty and administrators voted to suspend further development in an 89-4 decision in February.

Millman said the creation of the main district of Wheelock, on the other hand, “can have a significant impact on student housing”.

“You look at the [housing] waiting list, the housing lottery which [it] was caused by, I think it was 128 beds. If you expand these lots, you can clean them four times with increased occupancy and a dramatically increased amount of beds,” Millman said.

Although many existing residences in the main Wheelock district are privately owned, Millman said the College owns about a third of the real estate in the district. According to Millman, the College plans to hire a company over the summer to investigate the possible construction of other student residences in the district.

Kish Consulting and Contracting owner Jolin Kish said she has already begun the process of planning a full demolition and reconstruction of 14 West Wheelock, an apartment complex in the Main Wheelock neighborhood that she owns and operates. She said her goal is to get planning permission by next spring and complete construction within two years of getting a permit.

Given the timing required by construction projects, Millman said increasing occupancy limits from three to six unrelated people in a three-bedroom or larger unit offers more immediate results. Millman added that residents may feel “more comfortable” reporting buildings that are not up to code with the reduced threat of eviction for occupancy violation.

According to Houseman, the “normal planning process” for a rezoning is quite complex. In 2015, for example, Houseman said this process took nearly a year and a half and involved a collaborative effort with community members.

“[The process involved] work with a core group of community members to develop a concept, work on design plans, check it out to understand implications for land cover, come up with schematics for what would be the pace, pattern and landscape of street and take feedback from the neighborhood and the city,” he said.

Although the Wheelock Core District proposal is largely the same as the 2015 version which went through the “normal planning process”, Houseman said there were “two issues that stand out” in the updated version. Millman’s day.

First, Houseman said it’s unclear how the proposed new 60-foot building height might impact driveway intersections or cause transportation issues. Second, he noted that increasing the occupancy charge to six people could add to the “complexity of parking needs,” among other issues.

Despite these concerns, the Hanover Planning Council, of which Houseman is the director, ultimately opted to recommend Section 11 for voter approval in a 3-2 vote. For an amendment to the petition, Millman said Planning Board approval is “extremely rare.”

Millman attributed the passage of Section 11 to student participation, which was absent when the amendment was originally proposed in 2015.

“Before this election, usually only about five or so students vote at town halls. So when [the 2015 proposal] failed, it meant no student really had their voice heard on these issues and there was no student outreach,” Millman said, noting the lack of student campaigning in recent years.

Houseman echoed the importance of student participation in the election, saying he believed “this ordinance was passed in large part because of student participation.”

Eric Hryniewicz ’23 said he was part of the group of students who voted to approve the amendment. He cited the neighborhood’s urban location and proximity to campus as the most influential factors in his decision, as construction will only take place on already developed land and “people won’t be left out on the outskirts.” where they would need a car.

Hryniewicz also sits on Hannover’s masterplan advisory board and said the amendment “aligns with the vision that [the Committee has been] discuss. According to Hryniewicz, this vision serves the entire population of Hanover despite the “false dichotomy” that separates students and residents.

“Some criticisms I’ve heard are that [the amendment] is for students only, which I think is a bit absurd, because housing would help everyone in the city just by increasing the available stock,” Hryniewicz said. “In addition, students are residents [too] and this is something that I have tried very hard to emphasize in the advisory committee.

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