The Sandown Planning Board is trying again to restrict the property rights of Sandown property owners. The planning board has proposed Zoning Amendment 1 that we will be voting on March 12. If it passes, it will create a 50 foot restricted area from wetlands and vernal pools. Vernal pools are basically wet areas that dry up in late spring. Who doesn’t have those on their property? Within this restricted area, we will be forbidden from adding things like sheds, swing sets, pools, screened porches, etc...things that people normally do with their land.
If this sounds familiar, it is because they tried to do the same thing in 2010 and Sandown voters overwhelmingly voted No. A few on the planning board, I guess, have a need to control what we do on our property. But why would they think we property owners would vote to place restrictions on our property or our neighbors’ property. What makes this even more concerning is that, in 2011, Sandown voters approved a warrant article that required the planning board to individually notify via mail all property owners affected by any proposed zoning change. They totally ignored this requirement and did not notify a single property owner.
Surrounding towns have nothing like this. Their planning boards create zoning that is beneficial to property owners; their zoning changes are for new subdivisions. Atkinson recently voted down a similar ordinance, thus protecting their property rights and property values.
The State of New Hampshire, with its staff of experts, protects our wetlands, and also allows us to enjoy our yards as long as we do not disturb the wetlands. We and the state must be doing something right, as our wetlands and wells are just fine. The Sandown planning board should give us credit for being good stewards of our own property. They do not have to protect us from ourselves. Our property values have just started to recover from the recession and needless restrictions will only serve to devalue them. One planning board member even publicly agreed that this ordinance would devalue our property.
So once again, I hope that Sandown voters will save their property rights and property values and vote No on Zoning Amendment 1 on March 12.