Chapter III: Housing
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- COMMUNITY SURVEY RESULTS
- HOUSING CHARACTERISTICS
- HOUSING STOCK
- Table III-1: Plainfield Home Stock
- Figure III-1-Residential Building Permits
- Table III-2: Housing Units and Occupancy Number
- HOUSING TYPE
- Table III-3: Distribution of Housing Stock by Type
- Age of Housing Stock
- Table III-4: Housing Stock by Age
- OCCUPANCY CHARACTERISTICS
- HOUSING COSTS
- WORKFORCE HOUSING
- GOALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Housing is a basic component of a community's development process, influencing and influenced by the natural environment, regional development, public services, the community's economic base, transportation, energy patterns and social development. Plainfield and Sunapee in NH and Thetford in Vermont attract newly retired families looking for a more rural life experience. In addition Plainfield has attracted Dartmouth Hospital and College families in part due to the schools.
The population of the Town of Plainfield is projected to grow by 162 people to 2,526 people by the year 2020. To accommodate this growth, some 65 additional housing units will be needed, an increase of up to 7%. This growth has modest implications for the quality of human life and the character of this community, its housing and local environment. Plainfield is, above all, a residential town with a high percentage of its developed land area put into residential use (see Land Use Chapter). The current chapter reviews the results of the 2006 & 1993 Community Surveys and examines housing characteristics. The chapter then concludes with goals and recommendations for future residential development to meet the needs of Plainfield residents.
In 2006 the Planning Board conducred a community survey in conjunction with 2007 Master Plan update. The survey results generally re-confirmed community attitudes toward development. Following are key questions and respondents positions:
- Q. 28 In an effort to increase the number of local jobs, the development of 'light industry' should be encouraged in the town (e.g. contractor's office and storage, equipment sales, laboratories for research, assembly of computers or electronic equipment)
Agree 52% Disagree 31%
- Q. 29 Zoning regulations should be adjusted to protect the residential and historic nature of the village centers and discourage further commercial development in those centers.
Agree 47% Disagree 38%
- Q. 31 Plainfield should be kept residential. New businesses, other than home based or cottage businesses should be discouraged.
Agree 31% Disagree 56%
- Q. 32 In order to insure that Plainfield remains a residentially based community, the Town should continue to place strict restrictions on lighting, noise and hours of operation of any new business proposed for a residential neighborhood.
Agree 72% Disagree 20%
- Q. 33 Zoning regulations should be amended to create a new zone, Village Center (VC) designed to protect the residential character of villages by further restricting the size and type of businesses allowed.
Agree 45% Disagree 40%
- Q. 34 Current VR zone regulations are least restrictive on business development in village centers in the belief that Town services can best be provided there and that concentrating development in the village centers will best preserve the rural nature of the overall community. Regulations for the VR zone should continue to permit business development in village centers.
Agree 68% Disagree 13%
The Plainfield Planning Board has also conducted community attitude survey during the spring of 1993 as a basis for preparing guidelines for the future development of the Town. The following provides a brief summary of the 1993 survey results that relate to attitudes toward new housing in Plainfield.
- Most respondents would prefer to see Plainfield remain, as it is now - a rural/agricultural town that serves as a bedroom community to the surrounding business areas.
- The un-crowded, quiet conditions (88%), scenic quality (74%), and friendly people(61%), were what many survey respondents liked about Plainfield.
- Single-family homes were the type of residential development desired throughoutTown by 85% of survey respondents. Respondents felt that multi-family dwellings (59.9%), manufactured housing (49.3 %), and manufactured housing parks (66.9%), should not be allowed in Town.
- Most respondents would like Plainfield to address its responsibility to accommodate affordable housing by permitting accessory apartments and the conversion of large homes to apartments in village centers, rather than encouraging construction of new multi-familyhousing.
As noted in the preceding section, Plainfield residents find Plainfield to be a great place to live. There are a variety of settings in which residential development can occur. The Zoning Ordinance permits residential use in most areas of Plainfield. Each zoning district defines a different housing pattern, based on density or minimum lot size. There are five zoning districts and one overlay district. The districts are described in detail in the Zoning Ordinance, but range from Village Residential, where land is to be used as a residential center and should serve as a nucleus for community activity, to the Wetland-Floodplain Overlay Zone, where no permanent residences are allowed.
Plainfield has a stock of old colonial farms and homes which have been well preserved, in addition to a substantial stock of more recently built, large homes sequestered in the countryside.
|Total housing units||1,003||100%|
|Built 2005 or later||13||1.3%|
|Built 2000 to 2004||25||2.5%|
|Built 1990 to 1999||172||17.1%|
|Built 1980 to 1989||310||30.9%|
|Built 1970 to 1979||165||16.5%|
|Built 1960 to 1969||41||4.1%|
|Built 1950 to 1959||4||0.4%|
|Built 1940 to 1949||41||4.1%|
|Built 1939 or earlier||232||23.1%|
Recent residential development is tracked on the following graph, which shows the number of residential building permit trends between 1976 and 2010. While in the late seventies and early eighties the number of permits issued was relatively stable, peaks occurred in 1983, 1986 and 1988. The 1976 to 2006 period residential permits averaged 16 per year. In the 2006-2010 period this has dropped to about six per year as development has increased in neighboring communities.
The trends measured by building permits are reflected in the Census information collected decennially. As shown in Table III-1, the increase in year-round units was very significant between 1970 and 1980, Residential growth tapered off to 26.9% between 1980 and 1990.
The seasonal housing stock was cut in half in the 1980's, most likely because of conversion to year-round use. Interestingly, vacancies increased almost threefold between 1980 and 1990 and appear to have stabilized at about 3%.
|Total Housing Units||392||614||792||877||1003|
Source: U.S. Census Data
The profile of housing type in Plainfield has changed slightly over the past thirty years. Single-family residences have grown in popularity, now representing 84.7% of the housing stock in Town. There were gains in the proportion of manufactured housing and a decrease in the proportion of multi-family units.
Meaningful development of multi-family dwellings is one of the few good options in planning low and moderate-income housing.
The 2010 Census data, show that 23% of the housing stock was built pre-1940, 9% between 1940 and 1970, and 65% between 1970 and 2000. Only four units per year have been added through the last decade.
|Years Built||Number Built||Percent|
As can be noted in the Table III-2, Plainfield owner occupancy runs at 80.5%. Renter Occupancy is 8.5% Overall vacancy rate runs at 8.5%, mostly in non-owner occupied units.
|Year||Occupied Units||Owner Occupied||%||Renter Occupied||%|
|Year||Number of Households||Number of People||Persons per Household|
The following graphs compare the costs of the median value of a house and the median monthly rent in Plainfield with the comparable values in other towns in the UVLS Region. The median house cost of $293,300 in Plainfield is considerably higher than the 1990/2000 value of $115,000. In contrast, the median monthly rent of $1295 in Town is 78% higher than it was in 2000 and ranks third highest (after Norwich and Hanover) in the Region.
In 2007, the New Hampshire legislature passed SB 362 which establishes an obligation on the part of municipalities to provide "Reasonable and realistic opportunities for the development of workforce housing". In that effort, it requires each municipality to make sure that it's zoning , planning and building regulations do not prevent the development of 'workforce housing' within its jurisdiction. It further defines the requirement as follows:
"Affordable means housing with combined rental and utility costs or combined mortgage loan debt services, property taxes, and required insurance that do not exceed 30 percent of a household's gross annual income…[which is] …no more than the median family income for a family of four…" It is also "…rental housing which is affordable to a household with an income of no more than 60 percent of the median income for a 3-person household… in their county or metro area…" (RSA 674.58)
When the Planning Board investigated this in 2008, the median family income in Sullivan County was $56,100 which qualified a house valued at approximately $175,000 as "affordable". Based on 2010 census figures, the Sullivan County MFI is $61,355 which means a home valued at $195,000 would be considered "'affordable" for a family of four. Currently in Plainfield out of 935 housing units, there are 220 homes with two or more bedrooms, including manufactured homes and condominiums, assessed at $195,000 or less. This represents 23% of the Town's housing units. As land and home prices recover from the recent housing market decline, this number will decrease. In addition, while Plainfield does not document rental prices, anecdotal information suggests that there are very few units with two or more bedrooms which would meet the "affordable" rental standard of approximately $920 per month, including utilities.
- Preserve the rural character of Plainfield, in general, as well as the village character of Plainfield and Meriden.
- Preserve the historic and aesthetic qualities of Plainfield's built environment.
- Create a climate in which available, affordable housing is possible.
- Prevent development, which jeopardizes the natural areas, health, safety or prosperity of the Town, or necessitates an excessive expenditure of public funds for supply of municipal services.
- Enact some form of 'grow housing' ordinance that permits low cost high-density development and redevelopment in the Village areas.
- Re-invigorate and extend multi-unit development ordinance to permit higher density development in RR zone.
- Through zoning ordinance, encourage conversion of large houses to apartments.
- Discourage inappropriate commercial and industrial intrusions into residential neighborhoods.
- Require that new multi-unit structures and developments be located close to existing public services/village centers.