Pilot Project Communities
Towns within the corridor affected by the planned expansion of Interstate 93 were invited to apply to participate in a community Smart Growth planning process, including evaluation of their development policies and regulations in relation to principles and examples of Smart Growth. The three communities selected - Pembroke, Derry, and Chester - were already engaged in participatory planning efforts, and represent the diversity of municipalities in the I-93 corridor. Residents were invited by the local planning boards to participate in two public meetings to explore what they value about their towns, their visions for the future, and to consider possible ways to preserve the features and character they cherish, and implement their visions and goals for future development.
Planning Decisions, Inc. (PDI) facilitated the meetings and analyzed each pilot community’s master plan, zoning ordinance, subdivision regulations, and site plan review regulations. The local planning and implementation tools were reviewed for consistency with community vision and goals, and the Principles of Smart Growth for New Hampshire as they related to each town’s vision and goals. Using build-out analyses, PDI demonstrated to the towns the outcomes of their existing policies and regulations.
Smart Growth will not result from re-writing zoning ordinances alone. Smart Growth requires creative interaction of citizens, developers, and community officials. The primary stimulus to this creativity is imagination. Thinking of development only in terms of current policy and familiar projects will lead to little or no change. On the other hand, if people are willing to think about and discuss new ideas and decide which ones fit with the essential values and qualities that define their town, they can adjust the rules to fit the good ideas.
In its analyses and suggestions to the three pilot communities, PDI aimed to stimulate the imaginations of citizens as they undertake the challenge of charting their towns’ futures. The purpose was not to say, "This is what you should do," but rather, "Think about this." Lack of familiarity with the range of possibilities presents a barrier to finding new solutions for the many highly committed and energetic citizens who are wrestling with the issues posed by growth and development. The following suggestions are offered to broaden citizens’ vision of the range of possibilities, to provide food for thought to communities committed to dealing with the issues that will shape our future.