River Park Zoning Map Amendment Voter Petition

Passed by Public Vote, March 9, 2010

River Park West Lebanon was overwhelmingly approved by the voters on March 9, 2010. Voters in all three wards supported the zoning change, 1,975 to 949.

We especially want to thank the Friends of River Park who kept the faith and worked so diligently to deliver this victory. We now want to turn our attention to working constructively with the Lebanon City Council, Planning Board, Conservation Commission and municipal staff to make River Park the best mixed-use, smart growth development in Lebanon. This is a clear victory for the neighborhood.

Zoning Map Amendment Voter Petition
In order for River Park to move forward, the citizens of Lebanon, NH must vote on March 9, 2010 in support of a zoning amendment to allow mixed-use and smart-growth development at the River Park site. The process for a voter initiated petition is mandated by the existing Zoning Ordinance of the City of Lebanon.

To implement the River Park Master Plan, a simple amendment to the existing zoning map of the city is required. The voter initiated petition proposes to rezone approximately 9 acres of the 38 acre site from R-3 to CBD (Central Business District) and an adjacent 9 acres from R-3 to IND-L (Light Industrial). The majority of the parcel will remain in R-3, including the areas immediately adjacent to existing residences on Crafts Avenue, the entire Connecticut River frontage, and that portion of the site abutting existing residences to the north.

The CBD designation is required because it is the only existing classification in Lebanon that allows residential, office and retail uses in the same structure, structured parking garages to service adjacent lots, and multi-family housing. The IND-L designation is required because it is the only existing classification in Lebanon that allows research laboratories.

The configuration of the two changes reflect the River Park Master Plan and provides cluster development and additional setbacks from the existing residential neighbors.

138 Lebanon residents signed the zoning petition and the City Clerk certified the petition on October 30, 2009. All of the abutters and commercial neighbors have either testified or sent letters of support to the City. The petition must be ratified by the voters of Lebanon and will be on the Election Day Ballot on March 9, 2010.

Click here to open a new window to view a complete copy of the zoning map amendment petition.

Zoning FAQs:

The following FAQs were developed in advance of the March 9, 2010 vote in an effort to help educate the public about the River Park Master Plan, and why this issue was on the ballot.

Question – Why is this rezoning on the ballot?
Answer – The landowner, neighborhood residents and local business owners worked together to generate the River Park Master Plan for this site which would help strengthen and revitalize downtown West Lebanon by creating an employment base, a mix of housing options, and neighborhood scale retail shops. The mixed-use plan preserves over 50% of the entire parcel as open space and allows public access to over one half mile of frontage on the Connecticut River.

To accomplish this plan, a zoning change is needed. Over 130 neighborhood residents, local business owners, and like-minded residents throughout Lebanon exercised their right to place this rezoning on the ballot by signing a petition in accordance with the Lebanon Zoning Ordinance.

Chapter 1 of the Lebanon Master Plan indicates: “There is no better qualified group of people to set policy for the physical and socioeconomic development than the municipality’s own citizens.” This philosophy has been embraced by Lyme Properties from the outset of its neighborhood planning process.

Question – What is the current zoning and what does it allow?
Answer – The current zoning is R-3 which allows development of single family homes or a Planned Unit Residential Development, which could include townhouses, and public safety, education or recreation uses. Surprisingly, the current zoning also allows a hospital use with associated clinics, laboratories and medical offices.

Question – What would the new zoning allow on this site?
Answer – The new zoning would allow development to be much more tightly clustered, leaving most of the site open space. The Central Business District (CBD) zone would allow housing to occur on the upper levels of office buildings, multi-family apartments, and structured parking. The planned structured parking is critical to maintaining open space rather than vast parking lots. The Light Industrial (IND-L) zone allows research laboratories, which will provide significant employment opportunities for the local area and important increases to the Lebanon tax base. Lyme Properties is a nationally recognized leader in the development of first class laboratory research buildings.

The area proposed to be rezoned CBD fronts on North Main Street in the location of the former Bailey Bros. This area has been commercial in nature for over 70 years, with Bailey Bros. operating on the site since the early 1930’s. Allard’s Furniture Gallery is adjacent to the north, in a building that was the first home to the Valley News many years ago. Computac, and office use, is directly across the street in a former restaurant building.

The land proposed to be rezoned IND-L is tucked back from Route 10, and due to the unique topography of the site, is largely hidden from view from North Main Street. The former Bailey Bros. business used much of the site in a manner consistent with the allowed uses in the proposed zoning..

Question – What do local residents think of the rezoning?
Answer – Nearby residents are among the strongest supporters. The dialogue between the neighbors and Lyme has been ongoing over the past two years and the River Park Master Plan and this rezoning petition reflect our common vision for this land. The vast majority of the immediate abutters to the site signed the petition to rezone the property, and none of the abutters have voiced any opposition to the rezoning. In fact, dozens of neighbors have actively supported the rezoning by attending public meetings the City has held and testifying in person or by written comment. Lyme is deeply grateful for the support of our neighbors and the businesses in downtown West Lebanon and the trust they have placed in the company.

News Related to the Zoning Referendum