, Derry, New Hampshire

September 19, 2013

Londonderry Planning Board continues fee talk

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — The Planning Board continues to take a long, hard look at the town’s impact fee rules.

The board continued its discussion of the town’s updated impact fee ordinance that will bring Londonderry in compliance with the state rules and regulations for collecting fees.

The board also agreed that more time was needed to make sure it was done right. The discussion will be on an agenda again next month.

The upgrades come after a Superior Court judge ruled last December that Londonderry had some serious issues with its impact fee handling and documentation.

That court’s ruling came after the town asked for guidance on how to refund more than $1.2 million in impact fees collected erroneously or not spent within the required six-year time frame.

An audit was then done of the town’s impact fee records. The final report found many discrepancies, missing records, and other errors for various time frames during the audited period of time.

There were also bank documents missing, including evidence of actual fees being collected, but not deposited, as some old out-of-date checks were discovered.

Town attorney Mike Ramsdell said problems dated back many years.

With the proposed updates and changes to the ordinance, the impact fee program will be handled correctly from now on.

Some changes are in the language of the ordinance, other areas are getting big upgrades and clearer definitions of the fee structure, how fees are collected and more.

“It’s essentially an overhaul of the zoning ordinance to be in compliance with current state statutes,” town planner Cynthia May said.

Planning Board Chairman Art Rugg said the changes are to make sure Londonderry does it right.

“It’s to bring us up to date so we have consistency,” he said.

Planning Board members want to get it right so they continued the discussion to a meeting in October.

“This is so we have it correct before we send it to Town Council,” board member Mary Soares said.

The town still has some legal issues to straighten out concerning past impact fee problems.

“This is only the first step,” Rugg said.