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City council approves impact fee change as redevelopment incentive

Redevelopment projects in Concord’s downtown buildings are now exempt from some impact fees, in an attempt to encourage business and market-rate housing.

The city council voted last night to amend its 2001 impact fee ordinance.

The city now charges fees when the use of a building changes, such as converting a retail store to a restaurant, or upper-story office space into apartments.

Now, some of those fees will be eliminated for changes of use and market-rate housing redevelopment in the central business districts of downtown Concord and Penacook village.

Deputy City Manager for Development Carlos Baia said the change is a means of encouraging redevelopment of existing downtown buildings.

Changes of use are now exempt from transportation improvement impact fees, and transportation and school impact fees could be waived for market-rate housing redevelopment.

“We wanted to incentivize property owners to work within the infrastructure they have downtown,” Baia said.

The council’s vote was 13-0; Councilors Rob Werner and Dick Patten were absent.

Substations, vests, graves

Public Service of New Hampshire plans to build a substation off Farmwood Road in East Concord.

The city council referred a request to release a right of way easement for the property back to the planning board last night, though Assistant City Planner Steve Henninger said that would not affect the substation construction.

The new substation would be built just north of PSNH’s existing Oakhill substation. It has no connection to the Northern Pass project, but is adjacent to the proposed Northern Pass route through Concord, according to planning board documents.

The city holds a right of way for the future extension of Farmwood Road, now a dead-end street off Mountain Road.

The planning board recommending releasing the right of way.

The existing substation, wetlands and single-family homes in the area make the future extension of Farmwood Road “highly unlikely,” the planning board wrote in a report to the city council.

But the council referred the item back to the planning board last night, after Councilor Jan McClure suggested the city should consider future policies for releasing rights of way, and whether the city should charge for them.

Henninger said that referral would not impact PSNH’s plans; the company requested the right of way only to “clear up the title for their property.”

In other city council action last night:

∎ A restructured position in the general services department will focus on communications. Human Resources Director Jennifer Johnston said the department’s communications with residents has become increasingly internet-based, and “it’s really just trying to blend in two different types of positions into one to be more efficient.” The position is not an addition to the department’s staff; City Manager Tom Aspell said it was a change made possible by the retirement of one longtime employee.

∎ The council accepted a $10,035 federal grant for bulletproof vests. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Justice, will reimburse the police department for half the cost of purchasing bulletproof vests for the police department.

∎ A new “adopt-a-grave” program at Blossom Hill Cemetery will provide markers for old and unmarked children’s graves. There are 615 unmarked graves dating back to 1896 in the cemetery, according to a report from Parks and Recreation Director David Gill. The new program would use donations and extra granite pieces, with each marker costing about $100. The program will be implemented at no cost to the city.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

Legacy Comments1

Any bets that the town has spent more on administering the impact fees and laws and compliance that they receive ? ($16,000)

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