Written By: Lindsay Benson
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My family loves to ride our bikes and walk around our quiet, comfortable and green neighborhood. It was during one of these walks that my son pointed just beyond a neighbor’s backyard to Green Meadow Golf Course, which can be seen from all of the homes on Fairway Drive. “Mom, is that where the warehouses would be?”
I answered, yes, to which he responded matter of factly, as 9 years do, “But Mom, it doesn’t make sense. We live in a rural neighborhood and that would make us feel like we are living in an industrial neighborhood instead.”
My son’s simple yet powerful observation got me thinking. Do town officials, and specifically the Planning Board, have a responsibility as well as the jurisdiction to protect the character of the town and community they represent?
I ask this question, because an industrial park made up of three massive distribution facilities, the largest of its kind in New Hampshire, abutting the Merrimack River watershed, residential neighborhoods, and an already traffic-laden Lowell Road, will forever change and dictate what Hudson looks like and feels like to live here.
I believe in finding a balance between feelings and facts so I turned to the Town Master Plan. According to NH RSA 674:2, a master plan is defined as a document that serves to guide the overall character, physical form and development of a community. Character.
On page nine, section two of Hudson’s Master Plan, when referring to the town’s vision of prioritizing the conservation of natural environments and water bodies, it states: The view often expressed is that the natural environment must be protected to prevent irreversible damage that would forever change the character and quality of life within Hudson.
I agree with this expressed view. It was important enough to be published in our Town’s Master Plan back in 2006, which was the last time it was updated. It’s clear that this proposed development does not align with that view, as it will create irreversible damage and change the character and quality of life, especially for those who live on the southern end of Hudson.
These aren’t just my feelings.
According to results from a survey that was sent out to residents in Fall 2019 as a part of the process of updating the Hudson Town Master Plan:
When asked, what would you say are Hudson’s best features, 42% of respondents answered “Hudson’s small town atmosphere” (It was the second most chosen answer out of 15 options)
When asked how they’d describe the area in Hudson in which they live, 89% of respondents answered either suburban or residential-rural.
Some repetitive themes in the comments of the survey include, “sustainability,” “recreation along the river,” “finding businesses for the current empty buildings before building new ones,” “Doing everything in our power to keep current residents so they don’t move elsewhere for a better quality of life,” “keeping the charm of the community.”
These are the voices of residents that care enough about the future of Hudson to respond to a vision planning survey. It aligns with that same voice from 2006 prioritizing natural resources, character, and responsibility of developing the Merrimack Riverfront in a way that is both mindful and sustainable.
I have yet to hear one solid argument on how Amazon could possibly fit into that vision plan. Just the opposite. Rather than the voices of residents, it will be Amazon dictating the future of our town.