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.
Secretary of State Gardner Rules That Planning Board Members Must Be Residents
August 13, 2018
Secretary of State Bill Gardner has ruled that members of municipal planning boards even those in ex-officio roles are required to be residents of the municipality they are representing in accordance with RSA 673:1. The ruling comes in response to a complaint filed by a Portsmouth resident that two ex-officio members of Portsmouth’s Planning Board are non-Portsmouth residents and therefore there votes on recent projects should be invalidated. The City of Portsmouth maintains that there is no residency requirement to be a member of the Portsmouth Planning Board. It has been reported that at least two other Granite State municipalities also have adopted such a practice of allowing non-resident ex-officio members on their planning board.
Derry Begins Planning for Downtown Improvements in Advance of Exit 4A Project
August 13, 2018
The Derry Economic Development Advisory Committee held a downtown vision forum last week in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the construction of a new interchange known as Exit 4A on the Londonderry/Derry border which will divert traffic away from Downtown Derry. The downtown visioning forum was focused on identifying ways to update and beautify the downtown Broadway corridor while finding new ways to attract visitors to downtown. Ideas included adding additional lighting, installing art installations throughout the downtown, and redeveloping vacant/blighted properties in the downtown.
Inaugural Summit Identifies Steps for Making Granite State More Bicycle and Walking Friendly
August 11, 2018
A recent summit of local rail-trail groups and bicycling/walking advocates from across the state identified a series of steps to improve bicycle and walking infrastructure throughout the Granite State. Participants voiced support for: improving safety on key roadways at the state and local level through involvement with state and community transportation planning organizations, identifying “hot spots” for investment for commuters, recreational users, and visitors; strengthening relationships with the tourism industry to promote bike-walk opportunities for New Hampshire residents and visitors; and defining how a statewide bike-walk organization can serve as a hub to local clubs and organizations by providing services and communications and coordinating efforts like legislative outreach, statewide priorities, and special events.
Eversource Energy Appeals SEC Northern Pass Denial
August 11, 2018
In a widely expected move, Eversource Energy submitted an appeal to the state Supreme Court on Friday in an attempt to get the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) to reverse its February 1st denial of the 192-mile Northern Pass transmission project. Eversource Energy contends that the SEC should have deliberated on all four criteria required for approval instead of denying the project based on failure to meet the first criteria and that the criteria were “unduly or impermissibly vague”. Eversource Energy in its appeal claims that going forward no energy developer will ever have confidence that the SEC will fairly evaluate an application if does not overturn its decision.
Two Different Approaches to Regional Trail Planning
In the July/August 2018 edition of NHMA’s Town and City magazine, Nick Altonaga a planner with North Country Council and Rachael Mack a GIS Planner with Strafford Regional Planning Commission, outline two different approaches to regional trail planning based on their individual experiences. Nick Altonaga emphasizes the importance of stakeholder involvement and community buy-in while Rachael Mack details Strafford RPC’s efforts to map existing trails based on a series of attributes for which data would be collected.
Ken Gallager Celebrates 30 Years at New Hampshire State Planning Office
August 15, 2018
Ken Gallager, Principal Planner and New Hampshire State Data Center Coordinator at the Office of the Strategic Initiatives celebrated thirty years of service to the State of New Hampshire on August 15, 2018. Through his 30 years Ken has seen the evolution of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) from a revolutionary computer program to a mapping tool which has become essential for nearly all planners.
Principal Planner Ken Gallager holds citation from
Governor Sununu in recognition of 30 years of service.
Citation from Governor Sununu for
Ken Gallager’s 30 years of service.
Groundbreaking on First Net-Zero Multifamily Building in Granite State
August 8, 2018
Twin Pines Housing Trust broke ground on 29-units of affordable housing in Downtown West Lebanon. The building known as Tracy Community Housing when complete will be the first net-zero energy multifamily building in New Hampshire, meaning it produces as much energy as it needs through renewable energy. Solar panels will provide enough energy to support the building's needs for heating, air conditioning and hot water. Construction is expected to be completed in Summer 2019 with residents moving in during Fall 2019.
City of Dover Awarded 2018 Plan of the Year for Climate Change Adaptation Master Plan Chapter
August 3, 2018
The City of Dover was awarded 2018 Plan of the Year by the New Hampshire’s Planners Association conference at its spring conference. The award is in recognition of the City of Dover’s recently adopted climate change adaptation chapter of its master plan appropriately titled, “Planning Today for a Resilient Tomorrow”. This accomplishment follows on the heels of the 2017 Climate in the Seacoast (C-RiSe) vulnerability assessment, which identified inland coastal portions of the city that were most susceptible to flooding from future sea level rise. The master plan chapter is the first of its kind in New Hampshire.
NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture Releases Local Regulation of Agriculture Toolkit
August 3, 2018
The New Hampshire Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture has created a toolkit for farmers and municipal decision-makers to help guide development of local farm friendly regulatory environments in which agricultural enterprises can operate successfully and the traditions of New Hampshire’s working landscape of farms and forests can continue. The toolkit , which is based on years of research and input from farmers and municipal officials was made possible by grant funds from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement.
Antrim Wind to Break Ground on 9-Turbine Project
August 3, 2018
Antrim Wind Energy plans to break ground on its 9-turbine, 29-megawatt project on Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain overlooking Willard Pond in Antrim, nine plus years after it was first proposed. The start of construction comes after the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the Site Evaluation Committee’s 2016 approval of the project in a July decision.
OSI Publishes 2017 New Hampshire Municipal Population Estimates
August 2, 2018
In accordance with RSA 78-A:25, the New Hampshire Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) has calculated population estimates for New Hampshire’s 234 communities as of July 1, 2017. For a breakdown of the 2017 population estimates by county and municipality as well as a description of the methodology used for calculating the population estimates see 2017 Population Estimates of New Hampshire Cities and Towns.
Northern Border Commission Awards $2.8 Million to 15 Granite State Projects
August 1, 2018
The Northern Border Commission, a federal-state partnership whose mission is to help alleviate economic distress and foster growth in 36 northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, has awarded $2.8 million to 15 projects throughout Northern New Hampshire. Awards range from $68,000 to $250,000 and will help further community and economic development efforts in Carroll, Coos, Grafton, and Sullivan counties.
Commission Rules Out Residential Development for Laconia State School Redevelopment
July 31, 2018
The Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission, the state commission charged with deciding how the former Laconia State School will be redeveloped has ruled out a housing focused development. This is despite the fact that the Commission’s own consultant, Camoin Associates, concluded that residential development was the best use for the property. The Commission has instead decided to move forward with a more job-centric vision that could include a sports complex, a resort, and/or a retirement, or “continuing care” community. The Commission hopes to further narrow down its recommended vision for the 245-acre site at its next meeting on August 21, 2018.
Map of the Week: Predominant Land Uses in America
July 31, 2018
An analysis of land uses cataloged in the USDA’s Economic Research Services 2017 Major Uses of Land in the United States report reveals the patchwork of land uses that make up America. The report classifies land into six categories: pasture, forest, cropland, special use, miscellaneous, and urban. The northeast contains the highest concentration of urbanized land, but this could change as 1 million acres of land are urbanized every year. Even though urban areas make up just 3.6 percent of the total size of the 48 contiguous states, four in five Americans live, work and play there.
OSI Floodplain Management Program Releases Interactive Story Map
July 30, 2018
The New Hampshire Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) Floodplain Management Program has released an interactive story map in partnership with ESRI depicting how the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is administered in New Hampshire. The interactive story map includes a series of maps depicting NFIP member communities, number of flood insurance policies per community, repetitive loss properties, and other flood related topics.
New Hampshire Housing Awards $4 Million in Affordable Housing Funds
July 25, 2018
The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority awarded $4 million in Low Incoming Housing Tax Credits to six projects across the Granite State. The funds will leverage $35 million in public and private investment while producing or preserving 166 units of rental housing. The projects are located in Hampton, Plaistow, Rochester, Claremont, Laconia, and Lebanon.
EPA Awards $700,000 in Brownfield Grants to New Hampshire
July 24, 2018
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $700,000 under the Brownfields program to three Granite State projects on Monday. The three grants will go towards creation of a new commercial tract in Somersworth, a large solar array in Winchester, a commercial property in Hinsdale and resources to help Main Street revitalization efforts in North Country communities like Berlin and Colebrook and Northumberland. Since 1997, the EPA has awarded some 56 brownfield proposals totaling about $46.6 million in the Granite State.
New Hampshire Communities Increase Use of Solar
July 24, 2018
The City of Claremont was the latest Granite State community to cut the ribbon on a solar array, which will help power its wastewater treatment plant, the community’s highest energy user. The completion of Claremont’s municipal wastewater solar array follows Claremont’s adoption of an energy chapter in its 2017 Master Plan. Other communities such as the Town of Brentwood have installed solar arrays in more visible locations such as along Route 125. The City of Dover also recently approved an agreement to place solar arrays on its new high school and Children’s Museum/Indoor Pool.
Housing Shortage Driving Up Price, But Relief May Be In Sight
July 24, 2018
New Hampshire’s housing market continued to tighten in the month of June according to the NH Association of Realtors as shrinking inventories pushed the median price of a single family home to $295,000. Since June 2017 housing prices across the state have risen 5.4% while condominium prices have risen by a staggering 11%. This led to a 10% decline in New Hampshire’s affordability index for homes and a 15% decline for condominiums. However, pending sales for homes and condominiums are up 7.1% and 15.4% respectively, and the report said, “the housing supply outlook in several markets is beginning to show an increase in new construction and a move by builders away from overstocked rental units to new developments for sale.”
Building a Flood Smart Seacoast Workshop Series Concludes on August 21, 2018
The Seabrook-Hamptons Estuary Alliance and the NHDES Coastal Program are hosting a series of three informational workshops, titled “Building A Flood Smart Seacoast” that will provide coastal residents with a broad range of information and resources to help them make better-informed decisions about how to make their properties more flood resilient. The third and final workshop in the series will be held on Tuesday, August 21 from 6 -8 PM at the St James Masonic Lodge in Hampton, and will feature information about different shoreline stabilization approaches. Additional information can found on the workshop series webpage. Registration is free, but is required.
NHMA Webinar on the ABCs of Regional Planning Commissions on September 19, 2018
The New Hampshire Municipal Association will be hosting a webinar on the ABCs of Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) on September 19, 2018 from 12 -1 PM. The webinar will detail the many important functions of RPCs including land use planning, technical assistance in such areas as economic development, grant and loan services, reviewing developments of regional impact and compiling housing needs assessments. Registration is free for NHMA members, but is required.
NHMA to Host Annual Municipal Law Lecture Series
The New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA) will host the 2018 Municipal Law Lectures Series on varying dates in September and October 2018. The lectures will be held on three consecutive Wednesday nights in Keene, Derry, and Stratham. A day long lecture will also be held on Saturday October 20 at NHMA’s offices in Concord. These lectures are intended for municipal officials with an interest in or responsibility for any aspect of municipal land use regulation, including members of planning and zoning boards, planners, land use administrators, select boards, town and city councilors, building inspectors, code enforcement officers, and public works personnel. This year’s lectures series will consist of lectures on Planning Board Fundamentals, How to Read a Survey Plan, and Solar Power and Land Use. Registration is $35 per lecture or $90 for all three lectures.