Welcome to the NHOSI planning news page! This page is intended to provide planning related news for those involved with planning in New Hampshire.
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Hourly Wage Needed to Afford Two Bedroom Apartment Exceeds Minimum Wage by Factor of 3 in Granite State
June 13, 2018
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach 2018 Annual Report Granite State workers needs to earn a minimum hourly wage of $22.32 to afford the average priced two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire. That is more than three times the state’s minimum wage. The housing affordability crisis is not limited to New Hampshire as there are no states where the minimum wage is enough to afford a two bedroom apartment. Furthermore, thirteen states including Massachusetts require a higher state housing wage than New Hampshire to afford the average priced two bedroom apartment in that state.
Eversource Energy Seeks To Revive Access Northeast Pipeline
June 11, 2018
Eversource Energy has notified the PUC that it will file a new proposal to purchase capacity on the proposed Access Northeast gas pipeline expansion project following the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s May decision reversing the PUC’s October 2016 decision that prohibited Eversource Energy from entering into such an agreement. The PUC had argued that such an agreement violated the state’s deregulation law, which prohibits power distribution companies such as Eversource from also owning power generating infrastructure, by requiring electric customers to pay for pipeline capacity on behalf of power generators. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the purchase of capacity on the Access Northeast project would help to lower electric costs for customers and was therefore consistent with the intent of the deregulation statute.
Solar Landfill Projects Grow in Popularity throughout the Granite State
June 9, 2018
Hopkinton is the latest New Hampshire community to consider placing solar panels atop its capped land fill. While the Hopkinton site is currently undergoing study of how much solar capacity the landfill can handle other communities including Londonderry are in the process of developing a 10 megawatt solar array atop their landfall. Development of solar arrays on landfills has grown in popularity due to the ability to take advantage of otherwise unused space and the ability to sidestep environment and aesthetic complaints from abutters often present on ground mounted solar projects.
New Hampshire Bike-Walk Summit on July 14, 2018
The Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire in partnership with the Granite State Wheelmen Bicycle Club will be co-hosting a Bike-Walk Summit on Saturday July 14th from 9 AM to 1 PM in Concord. The goal of this summit is to gather input from New Hampshire bicyclists, advocates, and bicycling & bike-ped organizations to discuss ways for more effective bike-ped advocacy throughout the Granite State. Registration for the summit including lunch is free, but is required by July 7th.
Smart Growth America Launches Opportunity Zone Navigator
June 6, 2018
Smart Growth America has released Opportunity Zone Navigator, an interactive mapping tool that allows users to search designated Opportunity Zone census tracts for transit, environmental, economic, housing, and affordability information. The Opportunity Zone Navigator is intended to guide stakeholders in better understanding the economic, environmental, demographic, housing, and infrastructure characteristics of a designated Opportunity Zone census tract and in turn, the type of development that will maximize public and private returns on investment and benefit the residents there.
In Tight Housing Market, Millennials and Retirees Turn to Housing in Converted Industrial Buildings
June 4, 2018
With low inventory of homes for sale or rent, and rising prices, millennials and retirees are increasingly turning to former industrial buildings which have been converted to housing. From the Sundial Center in Manchester to the recently completed Brew Yard in Portsmouth, residents are attracted to the high ceilings, oversized windows, exposed brick, and wood beams. The re-use of dormant factory and mill buildings into housing has also helped to relieve some pressure from the tight housing market, which is otherwise dependent on new construction to meet the state’s growing demand for housing.
Governor Sununu Signs Broadband Infrastructure Bill
June 1, 2018
Governor Sununu signed SB 170 into law last week, which is aimed at making it easier for rural areas of the Granite State to build out broadband infrastructure. Specifically, SB 170 grants municipal governments the power to issue bonds for building broadband infrastructure in areas not served by a commercial provider. For rural areas such as the Monadnock Region, SB 170 will help level the playing field by providing them with an important economic tool.
USDA Community Development Grant Applications due June 25, 2018
The US Department of Agriculture under the Rural Community Development Initiative has made $4,000,000 available for rural communities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, who are looking to improve housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects. Grant funding of $50,000 - $250,000 can be used to provide technical assistance for a variety of activities. Applications are due June 25, 2018.
Home Prices Set New Monthly Record
May 30, 2018
In a sign of how hot the housing market is throughout the Granite State, skyrocketing home prices have hit all corners of the state including Coos County for the first time in recent memory. Statewide, the median home price increased to $284,000 last month, $24,000 higher than a year earlier. Coos County saw the largest year over year increase in sale prices of nearly $45,000, a 50% increase over prices in April 2017.
Governor Sununu to Sign Energy Cost Transparency Bills
May 29, 2018
Governor Sununu plans to sign two energy related bills approved by the New Hampshire Legislature last week, aimed at energy cost transparency. HB 317 transfers control of the system benefits charge, a small fee on energy bills that helps pay for energy efficiency upgrades for low-income ratepayers, from the PUC to the Legislature. HB 1150 requires utility companies to list the costs of complying with renewable energy standards on electric bills.
Survey Results Show That Broadband Internet Speed Impedes Home Businesses
May 26, 2018
According to a survey conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for the Live Free and Start Initiative, The New Hampshire Broadband Mapping & Planning Program at UNH, and the NH Division of Economic Development, nearly three of 10 home-owned business said their access to high-speed broadband service is insufficient due to cost and availability. Of the 579 survey respondents, 61% anticipated high-speed internet will be more important in the coming five to ten years. The survey also revealed that broadband bandwidth use doubles every year on average.
New Hampshire Housing Releases RFP to Study Cost of Construction of Homes Throughout Granite State
May 25, 2018
In response to limited a supply of housing and skyrocketing housing prices throughout the Granite State, New Hampshire Housing has released a Request for Proposals to study whether lowering construction costs of housing would spur new housing production throughout the state. Specifically, the RFP seeks to answer the question; can lower-cost single-family homes be built in the state? Proposals are due on June 8, 2018 at 4 PM.
Site Evaluation Committee Rejects Northern Pass Appeal for New Hearing
May 24, 2018
The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) voted unanimously to reject Eversource Energy’s appeal for a new hearing for the 192-mile Northern Pass project. The SEC in denying the appeal concluded that Eversource Energy had not met its burden to show that Northern Pass would not “unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region”. The SEC argued that this alone was enough to deny the permit, despite Eversource’s assertion that the SEC aired in not reviewing the project based on all four criteria necessary for approval. Eversource Energy has stated it will appeal the denial to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
State Supreme Court Strikes Down PUC Decision Regarding Use of Electric Rates for Pipeline Projects
May 23, 2018
The New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down a 2016 decision by the Public Utilities Commission that denied Eversource Energy’s request to use electric rates to pay for increasing gas capacity on the Algonquin pipeline. The expansion of the Algonquin pipeline, known as Access Northeast, would add capacity to a pipeline which carries natural gas from New York through Connecticut to eastern Massachusetts and Boston. The decision is likely to have ramifications for the PUC’s denial of the Northern Pass power purchase agreement between Eversource Energy and Hydro Quebec, which was based on the same legal reasoning. Northern Pass must also overcome its rejection by the Site Evaluation Committee.
New Hampshire Receives $7.9 Million in HUD Funding for Housing Authority Improvements
May 22, 2018
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $7.9 million to 14 housing authorities throughout the Granite state for capital improvements. The largest grant of $2,208,724 will go to the Manchester Housing & Redevelopment Authority. The smallest grant of $330,029 will go to the Somersworth Housing Authority. The capital grants will be used for major projects such as replacing roofs, plumbing, and electrical systems or to upgrade energy efficiency.
Survey of New Hampshire Residents under 40 Highlights Lack of Cultural Offerings and Affordable Housing
May 21, 2018
A survey of 420 Granite State residents from 20 to 40 by the non-profit group Stay Work Play New Hampshire reveals that a majority of residents, 52%, under 40 are unsure if they will still be living in New Hampshire in five years’ time. Survey respondents also noted a lack of cultural offerings, available affordable housing, social opportunities, public transportation and affordable childcare. This survey also highlights the growing challenge of employers having a difficult time finding young skilled workers in New Hampshire.
2018 NH Coastal Climate Summit on June 20, 2018 in Greenland
The New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup will be hosting its 2018 New Hampshire Coastal Climate Summit in Greenland, NH on June 20, 2018. The Climate Summit is a collaborative forum among scientists, natural resource managers, municipal leaders, watershed organizations, and citizens concerned about the impacts of climate change in coastal New Hampshire. This year’s Climate Summit will focus on municipal efforts to curb the effects of climate change and adapt to more intense coastal storms. Registration is $25 and covers lunch and refreshments.
NHDES Coastal Resilience Grant Applications due July 6, 2018
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has issued a Request for Proposals for its Coastal Resilience Grant Program. A total of $200,000 is available to towns, state agencies, and private groups for projects which reduce coastal flood hazards and better prepare for the effects of climate change. Projects must be located in one or more of the 17 Coastal Zone communities. The request for proposals specifies that projects that exclusively involve armoring shorelines with seawalls are not eligible for funding. NHDES expects to fund 3 – 5 projects. Past projects which have been funded include infrastructure improvement projects, flood plain studies, and education outreach programs.