Survey Results Part 2
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An analysis of individual responses revealed some interesting patterns. There was a strong grouping of responses around what came to be called the "Peace and Privacy" group of descriptors. A second, only slightly less strong, grouping arose around the "Woods and Wildlife" descriptors. There was also a noticeable but much weaker grouping around the "Village and Community" descriptors. Answers to subsequent questions differed based on which group of factors individual respondents considered more important. However, although many individuals favored one group of descriptors over another, there was a wide consensus that the fourteen descriptors were all important in defining Hanover's rural character.
The survey posed a series of very specific questions concerning different strategies for managing and accommodating future growth in Hanover. Respondents were asked to indicate agreement or disagreement with each question on a scale of 1 (disagree) to 5 (agree). The slide presents the responses with the 1's and 2's (strongly disagree/disagree) grouped together, 3's defined as neutral, and 4's and 5's (agree/strongly agree) grouped together.
Three questions focused on where in Hanover future growth should be accommodated. Two-thirds of the respondents agreed that new growth should be accommodated in or near the existing compact area of Hanover. Two-thirds disagreed that growth should be spread evenly throughout the Town, and over 80% disagreed that new growth should be accommodated in the rural area. An analysis of these responses by age, length of residence in Hanover, and size of property showed no significant difference between the various demographic groups.
Two questions focused on how future growth in rural Hanover should be accommodated. When asked whether growth in rural Hanover should be accommodated in designated areas rather than randomly distributed throughout the RR zone, two-thirds of the respondents agreed, with somewhat stronger support from the younger residents. Asked if current growth patterns are acceptable, a majority indicated that they were not. Residents under 60 years old and living in town less than 25 years felt more strongly that current growth patterns were not acceptable.
At the meetings in rural Hanover, a number of elements (noise, traffic, lights that obscure the night sky, etc.) had been identified as being bothersome to various individuals. To determine how widespread these feelings were, a series of questions asked how often (never, rarely, sometimes, or often) respondents found these elements to be currently bothersome.
The slide shows the results ranked in descending order of the degree to which these elements are currently bothersome. Traffic speed and volume were most bothersome. Noise and overhead utility lines were somewhat less bothersome. Hunting and lights at night were least bothersome.
Throughout the survey, opportunities were provided for respondents to write comments. A total of 246 comments, approximately one-third of the total, were recorded in the Rural Character section.
The comments provide a valuable supplement to survey results.
The next section of the presentation focuses on transportation issues.
Several questions solicited opinion relative to actions that might be taken to reduce traffic speeds in rural Hanover.
Should police patrols be reduced, kept the same or increased? Two-thirds of the respondents indicated that they should stay at the current level. A somewhat greater number indicated that highway maintenance should also stay at the current level.
A third question asked, on a scale of 1 (disagree) to 5 (agree), whether the Town needed to take other actions such as installing rumble strips, stop signs and traffic circles to reduce speeds on rural roads. Less than 30% or the respondents agreed with these options.
A final question asked if it would be good for the Town to widen and straighten rural roads. Three-quarters of the respondents disagreed with this statement.
At the Etna and Hanover Center meetings, several people had expressed a desire for input relative to maintenance and upgrading of roads in rural Hanover. Two questions were included in the survey. The first asked whether respondents disagreed or agreed that the Public Works Department should solicit public input before planning improvements. The second asked whether respondents disagreed or agreed that the Public Works Department should notify abutters before road work begins. Approximately 80% of the respondents agreed with both of these statements.
A number of roads in rural Hanover are classified as "Scenic Roads". The intent of this designation is to preserve the character of these roads. When respondents were asked if they disagreed or agreed that more roads should be designated as Scenic Roads, approximately two-thirds agreed.
A similar question was asked concerning the desirability of unpaved or gravel roads in rural Hanover. Almost three-quarters of those living on unpaved roads and more than half of those living on paved roads agreed that unpaved roads are a desirable feature of rural Hanover.
To assess the potential use of alternative modes of transportation between rural Hanover and Downtown, respondents were asked how often they might make use of bike paths, busses and ride-share if they were available. Most would not make use of these modes.
There were a total of 161 narrative comments included in the Transportation section as well as a number of comments in the other sections that related to transportation issues.
The next section of the presentation focuses on the Etna Village area.
Five questions were asked concerning the role of Etna Village in the rural community and whether or not appearance of buildings in the village should be regulated. In all cases, respondents were asked to indicate on a scale from 1 to 5 the degree to which they strongly disagreed (1) or strongly agreed (5) with the statement. A majority agreed that the village provides a social focus for the community. Fewer agreed that it should provide a greater focus
Respondents were asked whether they disagreed or agreed that the appearance of historic and new buildings should be regulated. A majority agreed with both questions.
The final question was whether additional village centers should be established in rural Hanover. Fewer than one-third of the respondents agreed with this statement
A number of changes have been suggested that would tend to discourage speeding on Etna Road through the village. Respondents were asked to indicate on a scale from 1 to 5 the degree to which they strongly disagreed (1) or strongly agreed (5) with the proposed change. Only the addition of trees and bushes and gravel footpaths received positive support from a majority of the respondents. In all other cases, from half to three-quarters of the respondents disagreed that the proposed changes would be desirable.
Several changes have been suggested that might contribute to better pedestrian access in the village and along Etna Road. Respondents were asked to indicate on a scale from 1 to 5 the degree to which they strongly disagree (1) or strongly agree (5) with the proposed change. Only gravel footpaths received positive support from a majority of the respondents. A majority felt that additional lighting, curbing and paved sidewalks were not desirable changes.
There were a total of 235 narrative comments included in the Commerce and Village Area section. They included a number of suggests for additional permitted uses. Most comments supported the village as it is.
The next section of the presentation focuses on open space issues.
A total of eighteen types of open space were identified at the Trumbull Hall meetings. Rural residents were asked to indicate the relative importance of each on a scale from 1 (relatively unimportant) to 5 (very important). This slide shows the top nine in terms of relative importance.
This slide shows the bottom nine types of open space in terms of relative importance. Note that, of the eighteen types, only hunting areas were deemed important or very important by fewer than a majority of respondents.
Six questions were asked in the form of statements about the perceived value of open space. Rural residents were asked to indicate on a scale from 1 to 5 the degree to which they strongly disagreed (1) or strongly agreed (5) with each statement. Eighty-five percent of the respondents strongly agreed that open space was important and over eighty percent felt that Hanover should do more to preserve open space. When asked if Hanover had sufficient programs in place to preserve open space, fifty percent indicated the current programs were insufficient.
The last three questions were asked to assess the strength of rural residents' feelings about more active preservation of open space. Three out of four agreed that the Town should implement increased development restrictions in order to preserve open space. Seventy percent indicated that they would accept such restrictions on their own property.
While the majority indicated that they would support a 1% increase in taxes to finance the preservation of open space, a relatively large minority disagreed.
Two questions focused on the desirability of clustering housing and how it might be implemented. When asked whether clustering should be encouraged by providing incentives to developers, 49 percent of the respondents agreed. When asked if cluster developments should have special minimum setbacks separating such clusters from roads and neighbors, over three-quarters of the respondents agreed that this should be the case.
Four techniques were identified to preserve open space and rural residents were asked to indicate the degree to which they disagreed or agreed that the Town should employ each of the techniques. Virtually all agreed that the Town should encourage gifts of easements and development rights. Almost as many (82%) supported purchasing easements and development rights with private funds. Approximately two out of three agreed with establishing a program to permit transfer of development rights, and a majority supported purchasing easements with tax revenues.
Many residents at the Trumbull Hall meetings expressed concern that not enough was being done to reduce negative impacts on the rural environment. Nine zoning and environmental areas were identified in the survey and rural residents were asked to indicate on a scale of 1 to 5 whether less regulation (1), the same (3), or more regulation (5) was appropriate. More regulation was favored by a majority in each area.
The information presented in these slides represents the responses of 523 rural residents and property owners, each of whom spent approximately an hour to respond to the 190 questions.
In addition, there were approximately 900 written comments. They amplify and extend the scope of the responses, and in many cases reflect strong feelings and emotions.
Rural Hanover residents have identified the key elements that, to them, define Hanover's rural character. Most elements fall into two groups; quiet and privacy, and woods and wildlife.
A review of both the question responses and the written comments on the surveys conveys a clear sense within the community that, if we continue on the present course, we risk losing those elements that make the community so special. There is strong feeling that we should not continue on the present course, but should takes steps to proactively manage growth in rural Hanover.