II. Survey Results
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A series of public meetings focusing on growth management and the future of rural Hanover took place between November 1998 and July 1999 in Trumbull Hall and the church in Hanover Center. A number of important concerns emerged. The Hanover Planning Board questioned the degree to which those concerns - and the visions that accompanied them - were shared by the rural community as a whole, including those who had not attended the meetings. An ad hoc committee of all rural residents who expressed an interest in doing so developed a survey based on the meeting discussions. The survey was sent out to all rural property owners in September 1999.
A key objective of the survey was to identify the most significant characteristics that define Hanover's rural character. The term "rural character" has been used widely in Hanover's Master Plan in the context of preserving or enhancing it, but the term is not defined anywhere. Respondents were asked to indicate the importance of each of a series of elements in their personal view of "rural character". (See Slide 21 for a rank-ordered list of all of the elements.)
Analysis of survey results showed two grouping of characteristics, one focused on quiet and privacy, and the other on nature and the environment, as the most frequently cited defining elements. Individual respondents tended to stress one or the other group.
In addition, the responses to many of the questions, and the written comments that accompanied them, conveyed a significant, widely held concern that if we continue on our present course we risk losing those key elements of rural character that we value highly. A strong message emerged: if we are to preserve what we value highly in the rural community, we must proactively manage future growth.
- Survey Structure and Demographics
- Zoning - Permitted Uses
- Rural Character
- Commerce and Village Area
- Open Spaces
The presentation is structured into six sections. First is a description of the survey itself and an analysis of the respondents based on the demographic information they provided.
The second section focuses on the results of specific questions concerning zoning and whether or not changes are needed in currently permitted uses and uses permitted only by special exception, e.g. "special exceptions".
The third, fourth, fifth and sixth sections follow the outline developed at the original Trumbull Hall meetings, focusing on broad areas of concern to rural residents. Each of these sections contains a number of targeted questions that grew out of the Trumbull Hall discussions.
The next section of the presentation focuses on survey structure and demographics.
There were a total of 190 questions in the survey. Seventy-five questions related to zoning and currently permitted uses and special exceptions. The balance of the questions elicited defining characteristics or addressed specific concerns or issues, alternative strategies for managing growth, or specific actions relative to transportation, the village area, and open space. These questions were grouped together into four topical sections.
Since the purpose of the survey was to ascertain whether the issues raised at the several Etna and Hanover Center meetings were of concern to the rural population as a whole, surveys were sent to all property owners in rural Hanover, e.g. properties in the B-1, SR-2, RR and Forestry zones located generally north of Greensboro Road and east of the Route 10 corridor.
The 804 properties in this area represent about one-third of the total number of households in Hanover. Two surveys were sent to each mailing address.
A total of 523, or about one-third, of the surveys were returned. The ad hoc committee considered this to be a very good response, recognizing that on average it took 45 minutes to an hour to complete the survey.
In total, approximately 100,000 individual responses (523 surveys × 190 questions) were received, supported and amplified by approximately 900 written comments.
The male/female distribution of 47% and 53% reflects almost exactly the male/female distribution recorded in the 1990 Hanover Census.
Approximately 1/3 of the respondents live on unpaved roads. The purpose of this question was to support the analysis of questions in the transportation section about paved versus unpaved roads.
The respondents were well distributed relative to how long they had lived in Hanover. The 2% "NA" response reflected the small number of property owners that do not reside in Hanover.
The age distribution chart compares the age distribution of survey respondents with the age distribution of Hanover residents as reported in the 1990 census. A larger return was received from the older age groups, in part due to the fact that the younger age groups are less likely to own homes in the rural areas.
The lot size distribution chart compares the lot sizes of the respondents with the actual distribution of lot sizes in rural Hanover according to tax records. There was a slight skew in the responses toward owners of the larger lots.
The next portion of the presentation focuses on responses to the zoning questions
Each of the zones in rural Hanover has an associated list of "permitted uses" and "special exceptions" (uses permitted by special exception). For each of the uses in the RR, B-1 and SR-2 zones, respondents were asked whether they felt that we should "keep", "restrict", or "eliminate" that specific use.
This chart shows each of the twelve currently "permitted" uses in the RR zone and the % of the respondents that wanted to keep, restrict or eliminate that use. The individual uses are listed in order of the extent to which respondents wanted to "keep" them. For example, over 90% of the respondents wanted to "keep" agriculture as a permitted use.
More than two-thirds of the respondents wanted to either restrict or eliminate four of the twelve permitted uses.
There are twenty-one uses in the Rural Residential zone that are permitted by special exception. Such uses require approval by the Zoning Board and the applicant must demonstrate an exceptional need. In addition, the applicant may be required to meet special conditions.
The twenty-one uses are listed in order of the extent to which respondents wanted to "keep" them as part of the RR zoning.
Of the twenty-one special exceptions, a majority of the respondents wanted to "keep" three and "eliminate" two uses. The remaining sixteen uses fell in between these extremes.
There are currently twelve permitted uses in the Etna Village B-1 zone. These range from Retail Sales and Government, with the highest percentage of "keep" responses, to Warehouses, which had the lowest percentage of "keep" responses.
Of the twelve permitted uses, there were four uses where more than two-thirds of the respondents indicated that they should be "restricted" or "eliminated". For example, 47% wanted to eliminate and 34% wanted to restrict "warehouse" as a permitted use.
There are currently fifteen uses allowed by special exception in the Etna Village B-1 zone. Responses fell generally into three groups. Outdoor recreation and essential services received a very positive response. Dwelling above the first floor, child care agency, accessory use, publishing, and government use fell in a middle range with a strong combined "keep" or "restrict" response. The remaining eight special exceptions received moderate to strong "eliminate" responses.
A majority of respondents indicated that three special exceptions should be "eliminated". These were drive-in restaurants, other drive-in facilities, and vehicular sales and repair.
The SR-2 zone in rural Hanover is a narrow strip running along Greensboro Road and Etna Road to Trumbull Hall. This slide presents the three permitted uses and the nine uses allowed by special exception. All uses received a strong positive response. Only open space subdivisions, one of the three permitted uses, received less than a majority "keep" response.
The survey asked respondents about the size of the current Etna Village business (B-1) zone and the single residence (SR-2) zones. There was a strong consensus that both zones were currently about the right size.
In summary, the seventy-five questions concerning zoning and permitted uses in rural Hanover provide a wealth of new data about property owner preferences. There was strong support to more closely restrict or eliminate some uses. In addition, there were many written comments.
The next section of the presentation focuses on defining and preserving Rural Character.
A key objective of the survey was to identify the primary characteristics that define Hanover's rural character. That term has been used widely in past Master Plans in the context of preserving or enhancing Hanover's rural character, but the term is nowhere defined.
Discussion at the earlier Trumbull Hall and Hanover Center meetings developed a list of 14 descriptors to capture the central elements of Hanover's rural character.
In the survey, each respondent was asked to indicate the importance of each descriptor on a scale of 1 (not very important) to 5 (very important). This slide presents the results in terms of the percent of respondents that rated each descriptor either a 4 (important) or a 5 (very important).
The top seven descriptors all received an "important" or "very important" rating from more than 80% of the respondents. Woods, quiet, wildlife, farms and fields, privacy, dark night sky, and low traffic are central to defining and preserving rural Hanover's character.