RCL Notes on Proposed Zoning Amendment RCD 2017-04

Retirement Community Development (RCD’s) 

    Proposed Zoning Amendment (2017-04)

Visit link to the full text of the Proposed Zoning Amendment (2017-04):  Click Here

The amendment is intended to assure that RCD’s developed in Rye provide for dwelling units which are affordable to senior citizens. With respect to the town wide limitation, presently there are 20 RCD units in the White Birch Development and 22 RCD units in the Sea Glass Development. The present ordinance would allow only 8 more RCD units in town. The amendment increases this to 20 units.

Editor’s Note: this is the explanation provided with proposed zoning amendment 2017-04 above.  The number “8” as remaining units appears to be incorrect – 10 remaining units has often been cited, see below.  Also, there are 22 RCD units at White Birch Development and not 20 as indicated and 20 units at Sea Glass Development, and not 22.

A timeline regarding the RCD Proposed Zoning Amendment – the Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on December 13th.

1).  At the Planning Board July 12th, 2016 meeting, planning board member Mel Low requested that Attorney Michael Donovan review the RCD zoning ordinance and amend it to ensure that future remaining units (10) be affordable.  Chairman Epperson commented on how the RCD at Sea Glass Lane ended up 20% bigger than originally planned for (i.e. 2,100 sf. instead of the maximum 1,800 sf. called for by the ordinance), with homeowners creating additional living space within the units (and a two-car garage instead of a one-car garage), resulting in increasing the market value of the RCD units, which were intended by the original ordinance drafters to be affordable, in the $ 350,000 400,000 range.  A Sea Glass Lane unit was resold in August 2017 for $ 704,000.

2).   At the Rules & Regulations September 29th, 2016 meeting, Chair Keriann Roman introduced Attorney Michael Donovan’s memo on ways to amend the Zoning Ordinance to make the remaining RCD’s (10) affordable: increasing density; decreasing square footing and number of bedrooms.  She stated that the request to amend the RCD ordinance came from Mel Low and that she is in agreement with it.  Member Bill Epperson added: “there is nothing to prevent the board from approving more RCD’s from beyond and above the 10 units remaining.”  He also stated, as far as he was concerned, “the need to put to sleep this last [Sea Glass Lane] RCD.” Planning and Zoning Administrator, Kim Reed stated that she will ask Attorney Michael Donovan to draft the Zoning Amendment as members are in agreement with his memo.  Chair Keriann Roman agreed that they should increase the total remaining units to 20 and that Attorney Michael Donovan should incorporate it in his draft.

3).  At the Planning Board November 1st meeting 2016, Attorney Michael Donovan introduced the RCD proposed zoning amendment by stating that Member Low had requested that the RCD ordinance be amended so “that future RCD’s would be more like White Birch and less like Sea Glass.”  He summarized the proposed zoning amendment:

  1. The purpose was that this would be affordable housing for the elderly.
  2. Requires that 50% be affordable. Affordable would be based on the occupant’s income and asset limitations of the elderly property tax exemptions.
  3. Right to have 22 (sic?) total units with a density of up to 8 per acre.
  4. 4.    Limit the number of bedrooms per dwelling unit and square footage.  (The square footage at the White Birch units could be considered for a number.) (Planning Board minutes, 11-01-16, p. 19).

Member Mel Low stated that he had talked to Marty Chapman from The Housing Partnership (THP), and that he recommended decreasing the square footage to less than 1.500.

“Attorney Michael Donovan stated that the Board wanted to make RCD’s exempt from the Growth Management Ordinance.  Right now, the exemption is tied to percentage of the number of year round dwellings in the town back in 2005 when this was passed, which would allow 10 more.  The Board wanted to change it to allow 20 more” (p.20).  (Editor’s notes: the decision to increase the number of remaining units from 10 to 20 was done in a matter of a few minutes at the September 29th Rules and Regulations meeting without taking into consideration Rye’s aging demographics (median age in 2014 was 50.8); state law requiring reasonable work force housing development opportunities; decreased school enrollment due to the lack of affordable/workforce housing; age discrimination; environmental issues and climate change related factors impacting our water supply/safety; exempting RCD’s from the Growth Management Ordinance; an outdated Vision Chapter in the Master Plan – what do Rye residents want?…). 

The board made a motion to move the Proposed Zoning Amendment 2017-04 to a public hearing with the changes made during the meeting.

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