Sadly, LRCD is no longer pursuing our proposed 66-unit workforce housing development on Route 140 in Northfield, after being denied twice by the Zoning Board on our application for a special exception.
The legal bar for a special exception is not terribly high, which is why we pursued the project to begin with. All the characteristics of the site make it an excellent location for workforce housing. It has adjacent water and sewer and immediate access to Route 140 between Tilton and Belmont. The site is very close to job opportunities in Tilton and Northfield, as well as to major commuting arteries – Interstate 93 and NH Route 106. There are no uses in the vicinity that pose a health or safety concern for residential development. And, local businesses are desperate for workers that they can’t find because of the lack of available and affordable housing.
In the past, we’ve chosen not to publicize projects that failed to move forward. In an effort to educate our community about how difficult it is to develop workforce housing, we are changing that practice.
The Northfield project is a great illustration of the barrier that zoning ordinances and lack of support by local town officials in many towns in the Lakes Region present for affordable housing. Conducting due diligence and pre-development planning for a site is time consuming and expensive. In most cases, we don’t even look at sites where multi-family residential is not permitted by right. In this case, we took what we considered to be a reasonable risk because the location was perfect from our perspective. At the end of the day, LRCD will have to write off about $70,000 in expenses for surveying, engineering, traffic analysis, legal, and architectural fees, and good faith deposit fees.
It is our mission to develop affordable housing. Sometimes that means we will lose money because real estate development is expensive and risky. Although we are disappointed in this outcome, it doesn’t change anything for us. We remain in a strong financial position and we have a robust pipeline of future projects. With your continued support, we will keep working hard to create more housing opportunities for essential workers.