Welcome to the NHOSI planning news page! This page is intended to provide planning related news for those involved with planning in New Hampshire.
Notifications regarding updates to this page will be sent out weekly through the Plan-Link Listserv. If you are not a subscriber to the Plan-Link Listserv, please visit NH OSI's Plan-Link webpage.
Traffic study and more detailed plans to come for Concord Exit 13 mixed-use project
July 22, 2021
On Wednesday, the Concord Planning Board accepted a conceptual plan for a mixed-use development near Interstate 93’s Exit 13 at the site of Concord’s old drive-in movie theater. More specific plans are anticipated after a traffic study and additional feedback from city planners. The first phase of the commercial and residential project includes a total of 266 housing units in five multi-family buildings and a combined gas station, car wash, sandwich shop and convenience store. Subsequent phases will add a grocery store, medical office building, restaurant, assisted living facility, and independent living townhomes.
Housing Advocates Propose Alternative Solutions To N.H.'s Housing Crunch
July 21, 2021
The Manchester Housing Alliance, which is focused on affordable housing issues, mission is “for the city (of Manchester) to have a good home for everyone, with increased supply and choice of housing”. To that end the Alliance successfully petitioned the Manchester Mayor’s Office to convene an “Affordable Housing Task Force” and are currently discussing the idea of forming a community land trust for Manchester among several other creative solutions to the Queen City’s housing shortage.
N.H. DOT Targets $15 Million Annual Budget For Bike Lanes, Sidewalks And Other Active Transportation
July 19, 2021
The N.H. Department of Transportation estimated (NHDOT) on Friday that they will spend an average of $15 million dollars a year from 2023-2032 on projects that include an active transportation component, like biking or walking. The DOT offered this estimate at the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT) kickoff meeting to the 10-year transportation plan. It is the first time the department has standardized the figure. The estimate follows increased pressure from advocates across the state who want to see more investment in active transportation.
Walls are going up at Concord Exit 17 Market Basket supermarket complex
July 17, 2021
Construction has begun on the buildings off of Exit 17 of 1-93 in Concord that will house an 80,000-square-foot Market Basket, a 13,500-square-foot NH Liquor and Wine outlet, and a 20,000-square foot yet-to-be-announced retail tenant. The liquor store should be open for business in early 2022, and the customers will be able to shop at the new Market Basket a few months later. Roadway improvements including the construction of a roundabout will be completed and open to traffic by mid-December. Future phases of the project will include condos, additional retail stores and an urgent care and dental office.
National Low Income Housing Coalition Report Concludes NH Has 13th Highest Housing Wage in Country
July 16, 2021
The National Low Incoming Housing Coalition (NLHC) released its 2021 Out of Reach Report last Tuesday, which shows that New Hampshire has the country’s 13th highest two-bedroom housing wage of $24.73, the hourly wage needed to afford a median-priced 2 bedroom rental apartment, paying 30% or less of household income toward rent. This would mean that a minimum wage worker in NH earning $7.25 per hour would have to work 106 hours per week (2.7 full-time jobs) to afford the median priced one-bedroom apartment or 136 hours (3.4 full-time jobs) to afford the median priced two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire.
Wolfeboro residents overwhelmingly against drive-through restaurants
July 16, 2021
The Wolfeboro Planning Board held a public forum on July 8 to hear testimony from the public on whether an ordinance established in 1998 prohibiting drive through restaurants should be amended. A number of residents in the audience spoke ardently against such a change; just one resident, owner of commercial property along the Center Street Rt. 28 corridor, spoke in favor. The Wolfeboro Planning Board also surveyed the public and found that 80 percent of respondents were against a change to the drive-through restaurant ban.
NHACC Publishes 3rd Edition of New Hampshire Municipal Conservation Commissions Handbook
July 16, 2021
The New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC) has published the 3rd Edition of its New Hampshire Municipal Conservation Commission Handbook. This handbook is intended to serve as an introduction for new members to the powers, responsibilities and possibilities of conservation commissions and as a reference for more experienced commissioners. Handbooks are $20 and include the cost of shipping. To order a Municipal Conservation Commission Handbook, please email Linda at admin@NHACC.org.
Smart Growth Online Webinar: Smart Growth @ 25 Session 3 – Toward a More Inclusive and Resilient Smart Growth
July 27, 2021, 1 PM
Join the Maryland Department of Planning and the Smart Growth Network for the third in a series of webinars, Smart Growth at 25, in which planners and academics examine the history, principles, and implementation of smart growth, what has been learned since 1997, relevant issues not addressed by the original principles, and the future of smart growth. During the third session in the series speakers will examine issues that have grown in relevance over time, including equity, energy sourcing and supply, smart cities technologies, and education and workforce development, and how they relate to how we think about smart growth. Registration is free, but required.
Kearsarge Lighting Precinct Voters Approve of Formation of Planning Board
July 14, 2021
At the Kearsarge Lighting Precinct (KLP), a village district located in part within the Towns of Conway and Bartlett, annual meeting held Tuesday night, residents overwhelmingly voted to create a planning board, thus clearing the way for the precinct to legalize zoning articles, several of which have addressed short-term rentals. Last year, precinct attorney Peter Malia, told the KLP Board of commissioners that because the KLP never had a planning board, the legality of its zoning articles for at least the past five years were thrown into question.
Scaled-back plans for Bedford’s Market and Main includes a hotel, retail and office space, but no apartments
July 14, 2021
The 200 apartments that stalled Bedford's Market and Main development are notably absent from the latest conceptual plan for the project. The site at 125 South River Road has been quiet since last summer when the planning board said no to an application for the project's second phase that included the apartments and a movie theater. The newest plan calls for three retail buildings, one major anchor retail building, three designated restaurant, food or beverage spaces, a three-story, 50,000-square-foot office building with a parking deck in the rear of the site and a four-story, 52,500-square-foot hotel.
New Hampshire Council on Housing Stability Publishes 3-Year Action Plan with Goal of 13,500 New Homes By 2024
July 14, 2021
The state’s Council on Housing Stability released a 40-page strategic plan to address homelessness on Friday, a plan that focuses on adding 13,500 new homes to the state by 2024. It includes a three-year framework to specifically address homelessness across the state, with emphasis on the need for an increase in inventory of affordable housing. Recommendations include promoting new housing development; reducing barriers to affordable housing; and using a data-driven approach to understand regional needs.
It’s time for the state to think about the next 10-year Transportation Plan
July 11, 2021
The two-year process for updating the state’s 10-year Transportation Plan, which includes more than 800 projects, begins with a public hearing Friday. The current 10-Year Transportation Plan includes about $180 million in active transportation projects, most of which involve widening or adjusting roads to allow concurrent use. The plan calls for spending at least $322 million each year over the next decade. The 10-Year Plan also includes spending on airports and rail.
Workforce housing will help grow the economy
July 9, 2021
Working to develop affordable housing in New Hampshire is not for the faint of heart. High costs of labor and building materials, exclusionary zoning requirements and land that is difficult to build on all make it a challenge to find ways to put a roof over the head of workers needed to maintain and grow New Hampshire’s economy. And even if there is a growing consensus that affordable housing is needed, zoning rules frequently do not provide the flexibility or density required for a project to materialize.
Nature Conservancy Publishes New Hampshire Coastal Watershed Plan
July 9, 2021
Over the last year and a half, the Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire has partnered with various stakeholders to complete its "New Hampshire’s Coastal Watershed Conservation Plan." The plan incorporates conservation priorities that have emerged from various planning efforts over the last 15 years. The plan sets ambitious conservation targets that are recommended in combination with land use planning, public policy, and outreach and engagement efforts to conserve the ecological function and integrity of New Hampshire’s seacoast region by designating Coastal Conservation Focus Areas and Coastal Priority Agricultural Resources.
Applications for 2021 Taking Action for Wildlife Community Conservation Cohort Due August 6, 2021
July 8, 2021
Conservation Commissioners and other municipal boards are invited to join Taking Action for Wildlife a partnership among UNH Cooperative Extension, the NH Fish & Game Department and NH Association of Conservation Commissioners. Get the tools and skills you need to engage your community in actions to protect wildlife and natural resources, while gaining the camaraderie of a cohort of community volunteers. Topics will include New Hampshire's conservation landscape, wildlife and habitats, wildlife corridors, using online mappers, community engagement, and more. Learn how land conservation planning, land management, and land use regulations can effectively protect wildlife and natural resources in your community, and how to use your town's natural resources inventory in this work.
Apartment building with 260 units planned for downtown Manchester
July 8, 2021
A Boston-based developer and real estate investment firm wants to tear down several old brick buildings across from the SNHU Arena in Manchester and build a four-story building with 260 apartments. The properties at 21 W. Auburn St. and 24 Depot St. are near Market Basket on Elm Street. All the units will be rented at market rate. On Thursday, the Manchester Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a variance to increase the number of allowed units from 198 to 260 and provide .7 parking spaces/unit. The proposed development still requires site plan approval from the Planning Board.
Groundbreaking set for Franklin whitewater park
July 7, 2021
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Monday, July 12, to inaugurate work on the eagerly anticipated Mill City Park in Franklin, the first whitewater park in New England. The first phase of construction includes construction of a timber-frame pavilion, parking lots and two sets of standing waves in the riverbed. In 2022, construction is scheduled to begin on refurbishment of Trestle Bridge – an old railroad bridge –into a footbridge to connect the Winnipesaukee River Trail to Mill City Park and the downtown area. Eventually, the park will feature sites for camping, climbing walls, trails for walking and bicycling, an amphitheater and historic features around remnants of three mills that once stood there.
Short-term rental regulations on horizon for Madison
July 5, 2021
Madison selectmen have formally decided to hire Host Compliance to inventory short-term rentals in Madison, and the police chief says regulations will likely be presented to voters at next year's town meeting. To date, Host Compliance has identified 171 short-term rentals in Madison including many located in the Eidelweiss Village District.
Downtown Manchester commercial building pitched as 43 apartments
July 4, 2021
Red Oak Apartment Homes hopes to transform a commercial building in Downtown Manchester into apartments. The company purchased 73 Hanover St. for $1.5 million at the end of last year with the intention to convert the upper four floors into 43 market-rate apartments. The Hanover Street project was to go before the Manchester Zoning Board of Adjustment this week for a variance to reduce the lot size required. The project will also require planning board approval.
Commuter rail station options presented in Capitol Corridor study
July 4, 2021
The team undertaking preliminary design and engineering work for the proposed Capitol Corridor Project, which would extend MBTA commuter rail service 30 miles to Nashua and Manchester, has presented proposals for siting stations in Manchester and Nashua. In Manchester, the preferred station sites are at Granite Street and Valley Street. At either location, the station would feature an 800-foot platform, topped in part by a canopy. In addition, Manchester would also host a layover yard to house trains overnight. In Nashua, three locations were identified – Crown Street Park and Ride, Spit Brook Road and Pheasant Lane Mall.
NH projects get into House-passed infrastructure bill
July 1, 2021
The renovation of rail corridors, pedestrian and bike trails, bridges and sidewalk projects -- along with a provision that New Hampshire highway exit numbers won't have to change -- were contained in the $715 billion INVEST in America Act that cleared the U.S. House last Thursday. The plan would dedicate $343 billion to roads, bridges and safety, $109 billion to transit, $95 billion to passenger and freight rail, $117 billion to drinking water infrastructure and over $51 billion to wastewater projects.
Exit 4A unleashing economic fervor
July 1, 2021
A new timeline for long-delayed construction of a $112 million Exit 4A off Interstate 93 in Londonderry has stirred a wave of calls to town officials from developers interested in plans for 200 acres of prime land nearby. The plan now calls for traditional construction in three phases -- a new exit off I-93 one-mile north of Exit 4, an upgrade of Folsom Road in Derry and an expansion of Tsienneto Road in Derry, and upgrade of Route 102. Construction on the first phase would begin in fall 2022, followed by the second phase in 2024 and the final piece in 2025-2026, state officials said.
Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) and Recreation Planning
July 1, 2021
Both Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC) and North Country Council (NCC) have leveraged new data and advancements in mapping technologies to support local communities with recreation planning despite their differences in geographic conditions and the natural resources available. SRPC has increased its recreation planning program over the last several years with funding from various sources. NCC’s role in recreation planning in the region has been to support, and bring together, the various organizations who provide outdoor recreation in the region and facilitate collaboration of efforts and identification of regional needs.
Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?
June 30, 2021
Neighborhoods with a majority of people in poverty have 25 percent less tree canopy on average than those with a minority of people in poverty, according to American Forests’ Tree Equity Score tool that analyzes income, employment, age, ethnicity, health and surface temperature with tree canopy data in 486 metro areas. In the most extreme cases, wealthy areas have 65 percent more tree canopy than communities where nine out of 10 people live below the poverty line.
Belknap County may use COVID stimulus money for State School redevelopment
June 29, 2021
Belknap County could play a pivotal role in an effort to launch the redevelopment of the long-dormant Laconia State School property. Belknap County Commissioners are looking at the possibility of using $1 million of the $5.8 million the county recently received from the American Rescue Plan to provide the matching funds for a $1 million federal grant that was awarded last year to pay for infrastructure improvements at the former State School.
192 workforce housing apartments proposed for South End of Concord in former rail yard
June 28, 2021
The Concord Planning Board Wednesday night determined that a developer’s application to construct 192-units of multi-family workforce housing as well as mixed-use commercial buildings off South Main Street, is complete. The project, known as Rail Yard at Langdon Avenue due to its location on a 34-plus-acre parcel that once served as a railroad hub for the Capital City, will be constructed in four phases. A public hearing for the project will be held on July 21, 2021.