Aldermen set to discuss several ordinance changes and more on Tuesday

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The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) are meeting on Tuesday, March 5. Here is a preview of some of the topics they are expected to discuss throughout the evening.

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City Hall. File Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Increases to parking rates

The BMA Committee on Public Safety, Health and Traffic will hear a proposal from Manchester Parking Division Manager Christopher Goodnow on whether to recommend increased parking fee and parking violation rates.

Goodnow’s proposal offers two options for violations: a $15 citation that is expected to increase revenues by $87,125 and a $20 citation expected to increase revenues by $174,250. He also requests a hike in parking fee rates to $1 per hour, which would generate an expected $283,020.

These rates last changed in 2014. Currently in Manchester it costs $0.75 an hour to park and citations cost $10.

In Goodnow’s letter to the committee, he compared similar fee and violation rates in five other New Hampshire cities: Concord, Dover, Keene, Nashua and Portsmouth. All of the comparable cities except for Nashua have citation amounts higher than citation amounts than Manchester and all of the cities start with rates of at least $1 per hour to park, with Dover and Portsmouth’s rates increasing over time for longer parking stays.

Stop sign at Union Street and Campbell Street

Expected immediately after the parking rate discussion, the matter of an all-way flashing stop sign at the corner of Union and Campbell streets returns with additional data from the Manchester Department of Public Works, following earlier concerns about the cost of the signs.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD, a multi-way stop sign should be considered when there are five or more crashes within a 12-month period at an intersection. In the report given to the committee, there have been three crashes at the intersection in the last year, with the most recent crash before that occurring in Oct. 2021.

The MUTCD also recommends multi-way stop signs should be considered if there are more than 300 vehicles per hour from the busier, or “major,” street approaching the intersection and 200 vehicles per hour from the minor street approaching the intersection over an eight-hour period during an average day.

Data was collected on Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and there were over 300 vehicles for each of the hours on Union Street, but only four of the hours studied had over 200 vehicles per hour on Campbell Street.

Currently there is a stop sign on Campbell Street going westbound onto Union Street, with one northbound lane and two southbound lanes on Union Street.

According to Manchester Department of Public Works Traffic Engineer Kristen Clarke, 82.5 percent of vehicles in the area during a study in 2019 went over the 30 miles per hour speed limit, with the average speed coming in at approximately 35 miles per hour.

Clarke also noted that the signs would cost approximately $16,000 and funds are not available within the Department of Public Works’ operational budget.

Bicycle Master Plan

And then immediately after the stop signs, the committee will begin a renewed discussion on a Bicycle Master Plan for the city, aiming to create a “workable, realistic plan for the future that will encourage bicycle use and make it safer for residents to ride their bicycles.”

The matter had stalled over the past several months due to the $150,000 price tag, with Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long taking the item off the table and pitching it back to committee without a specific required funding amount during the BMA’s Feb. 6 meeting.

Zoning Ordinance Change

Preceding the BMA’s full board meeting, a special public hearing will be held regarding proposed amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance.

In a letter from Manchester Department of Planning and Community Development Director Jeffrey Belanger, the amendments would increase the number of units permitted per lot zoned areas from three to four in multiple parts of the ordinance code, aimed at facilitating the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), multi-family housing and townhouses.

The various changes would allow ADUs with a permit in all residentially zoned areas, removing the requirement that they get a conditional use permit from the Planning Board.

Requirements for minimum parking spaces and square footage for townhouses and multifamily units in Urban Multifamily (R-3), Redevelopment Mixed Use (RDV) and Civic Institutional (C-1) zoning districts (see Manchester Zoning Map here) would also be relaxed.

Belanger indicated in his letter that the Planning Board is in favor of the proposal and that the proposal would increase available housing in the city, specifically “missing-middle” housing that lies between single-family homes and large-scale apartment buildings.

Procurement Code

In February, the BMA Committee on Information and Administrative Systems recommended that a proposed ordinance amendment placing additional requirements during the prequalification of bidders associated with the procurement of city construction contracts be received and filed.

That ordinance change was passed in December, but then was rescinded in January following the installation of a new BMA after November’s elections.

Supporters of the proposal say that the additional requirements factoring in things like a bidder’s history of following OSHA guidelines, properly classifying employees versus independent contracts and providing workers’ compensation insurance would insulate the city from legal jeopardy. Opponents of the proposal believe the change would create undue burdens for developers, potentially limiting future bids on city requests for proposals.

One example of a developer that could be prohibited from prequalification for city contracts if the ordinance was reinstated would be Nazar Vincent of Avatar Design and Construction.

Vincent, whose company has begun construction on a new apartment building on Elm Street near SNHU Arena, allegedly underpaid workers by more than $170,000 according to the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire, Vincent was also found guilty of using fraudulent statements to obtain state and local construction contracts in 2013 before he changed his name from Nazar Lopushansky in 2017.


 

About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.