WINDHAM — The Town Council Tuesday unanimously approved the use of impact fees in town in order to create open space.

Residents have recently been concerned about over-development in town, including the impacts on taxes, schools, roads, water bodies, open space and the town’s rural character. The number of permits for residences between 2018 and 2019 increased by 40%, and 75.6% of the building permits issued in 2019 were for sites in subdivisions. Windham has been considering a variety of ways to address this growth, including impact fees.

“This is a good step forward,” Town Councilor David Nadeau said of the impact fees that will be levied on new development in town.

The fees will be levied on new building permits starting Feb. 28.

The amendments to the town’s land use ordinance were developed by the Long Range Planning Committee, which was asked by the council to develop recommendations on impact fees to pay for open space. The fees will go toward open space and other recreation areas for the public.

Under the proposed changes, a single-family home will have an impact fee between $303 and $580, depending on the number of bedrooms. There will also be impact fees for attached or multifamily housing or accessory apartments, as well as mobile homes in a mobile home park.

Resident Priscilla Payne said at the meeting Tuesday that she strongly supports the impact fees.

“This could have a real impact on our community in the area of conservation,” Payne said.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Town Councilor Rebecca Cummings said.

Also on Tuesday, the council voted to appoint Christina Small to the RSU 14 School Board.

She and Brandi Caceres both applied to fill the seat that was vacated by Dawn Dillon last month.

“We really appreciate your willingness to get involved,” Town Council Vice Chairman Tim Nangle said to the applicants. “Unfortunately, there isn’t two openings. I just want to make sure that that doesn’t discourage you from getting involved in other places in the town.”

The council also reviewed its council rules and made some modifications, which will be reviewed by the town’s attorney.

Councilors discussed, among other topics, how to handle voting during a workshop meeting, whether councilors should be allowed to abstain from voting and whether cell phones should be allowed in Council Chambers during meetings.

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