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.
New Hampshire Preservation Alliance Releases 2018 List of Seven to Save Historic Properties
October 16, 2018
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance has released its 2018 list of the most historically significant places throughout New Hampshire, which are worth preserving. This year’s “Seven to Save” list includes the 250-acre Laconia State School, which is currently undergoing a state-sponsored master planning redevelopment process; the recently closed Ruggles Mine in Grafton, a water-power dam at the Canterbury Shaker Village; an exhibition barn at the Rochester Fairgrounds; an 18th century home adjacent to the common at Haverhill Corner; an Italianate parsonage in Lee; and a Prairie-style residence built for the director of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Manchester. Appearance on the Seven to Save list has helped to attract new investment and re-use options for more than 50 percent of the community landmarks that have received the designation since the program began in 2006.
The Effect of Short-Term Rentals on the Granite State’s Housing Shortage and the Economy
October 15, 2018
The explosion of short-term rentals on sites such as AirBnb across the Granite State in the past year has raised a range of questions from whether communities can and should start regulating short-term rentals to what effect the rise of these transitory housing units are having on communities already strained housing stock. These questions and others were the subject of NHPR’s The Exchange program this past Monday. Guests included Jac Cuddy, Executive Director of the Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council; Amy Landers, Executive Director of the Lakes Region Tourism Association; Laura Leslie, Director of Sales at the Wolfeboro Inn and Wolfe’s Tavern; and Bob Sanders, Staff Writer for New Hampshire Business Review.
NH Supreme Court to Hear Northern Pass Appeal
October 12, 2018
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has agreed to hear Eversource’s appeal of the Site Evaluation Committee’s (SEC) denial of the 192-mile Northern Pass transmission project. While the Court has yet to set a date for oral arguments, the Court has given the SEC until December 11, 2018 to provide a copy of the case’s record. The SEC unanimously rejected the project on February 1st, and on May 24 rejected requests to reconsider its decision and resume deliberations.
Graphic of the Week: Every Building in America Mapped
October 12, 2018
The New York Times has plotted every building footprint in the United States on an interactive, searchable map; the first of its kind for the whole country. Where buildings are clustered together, in downtowns, the image is darker, dense. As suburbs stretch out with their larger lawns and malls, the map grows lighter. The maps also show how cities have been linked like beads on a string by rivers, railroads, and highways as well as how designed cities such as Washington D.C. differ in their layout from organically growing cities such as Boston. Most remarkably the map shows the clear divide between the developed eastern half of the county and the undeveloped western half of the county.
City of Laconia and Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission At Odds Over Future of Laconia State School
October 11, 2018
The Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission, which is charged with planning the redevelopment of the former Laconia State School has found itself at odds with the City of Laconia over the vision for the 200-acre State School redevelopment. The Commission’s consultant, NBBJ, is in the process of developing a master plan for the site which would result in the construction of a multi-generational wellness village centered on a continuing care facility, sports complex and resort hotel, ringed by age-restricted housing and starter homes with limited retail and office space. The Commission’s plans are based on extensive market research of the area by Camion Associates. However, City of Laconia officials contend that the Legislature’s mandate to the commission to recommend alternatives for developing the property “for self-sustaining economic development and job creation”, are being ignored. Laconia officials fear that the Commission’s plan will only further accelerate the aging of the city, when it is desperately in need of an influx of younger persons to boost its economy.
OSI Seeks Applications For School Energy Efficiency Development (SEED) Program
The New Hampshire Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) seeks applications for its School Energy Efficiency Development Program (SEED). This new program will provide support and technical assistance for a school in a small community to implement energy efficiency projects and make necessary upgrades to their building(s). One grant in the amount of $100,000 will be awarded with a 20% match requirement. Applications must be received by OSI no later than 4:00 pm on October 26, 2018 and should be submitted to: Joseph Doiron, NH Office of Strategic Initiatives, Johnson Hall, 3rd Floor, 107 Pleasant Street Concord, NH 03301 and firstname.lastname@example.org. The official announcement notice of funding availability, program application, and answers to questions about SEED can be found on OSI’s website.
Mount Washington Valley to Host Workforce Housing Listening Session and Design Charrette On October 22 & 25, 2018
The Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition and White Mountain Board of Realtors and Affiliate Members will host a workforce housing community listening session on Monday, October 22nd, from 7-7:45 p.m. at the Conway Public Library. The community listening session will be followed by a day-long design session on October 25th from 9 AM - 4 PM at Granite State College in Conway at which the design team will be working from recommendations supplied by community members at the listening session. The design team will present their plans that evening at the North Conway Community Center. The goal is to brainstorm designs for a possible workforce housing development for a 29-acre parcel located at 28 Banfill Road in Conway, which is listed for sale. Served by municipal water and sewer, the property could accommodate up to 125 units of housing.
Laconia To Begin Short-Term Rental Enforcement
October 11, 2018
The Laconia City Council voted Tuesday night to begin enforcement of short-term rentals in residential areas where the zoning ordinance doesn’t allow them in cases where complaints have been received. While a 2017 law expressly prohibits regulation of short-term rentals under the Housing Standards Law (RSA 48-A), Laconia City Attorney Laura Spector-Morgan advised the council it could regulate the issue under its existing zoning ordinance that lists the uses that are permitted in various zones throughout the city. Going forward the planning department will investigate complaints about specific short-term rentals by neighbors, police, and code enforcements officers and then decide whether an enforcement action requiring the property no longer be rented out, is warranted. The decision to begin enforcing short-term rentals stems from several complaints about a short-term rental on Old North Main Street.
Biomass Bill Override Includes Subsidy for Penacook Trash-To-Energy Power Plant
October 9, 2018
When lawmakers overrode Governor Sununu’s veto of SB 365 on September 13th, many did not realize that the override would not only prop up the state’s six biomass plants, but would also subsidize Wheelabrator Technologies trash-to-energy plant in Penacook. While Concord and 19 surrounding communities who send their trash to Wheelabrator are supportive of the continued subsidy, many environmentalists and other biomass industry supporters feel that Wheelabrator is unfairly capitalizing from being termed a “renewable energy power plant” in SB 365. New legislation that would carve out Wheelabrator from the subsidies under SB 365 is expected to be introduced in the 2019 legislative session.
Builders Place Blame on Local Regulations for Rising Home Prices
October 6, 2018
At NH Housing’s Annual Housing and the Economy conference held in Manchester last week, NH Housing Executive Director Dean Christon announced that single-family homes are being permitted at half the rate today compared to prior to the recession. Builders from across the state have explained that fewer homes having been permitted due to the rising cost of local regulations for roads, retention pond and utilities, which in some cases has increased costs by as much as 25%. As a result builders have a hard time constructing new single-family homes for less than $300,000. Still other builders complain that exclusionary zoning practices such as large setbacks and density restrictions make it difficult to construct more affordable, smaller homes in many communities. Planners contend that while they have tried to streamline the development approval process, comprehensive review of large housing projects is still an essential part of the process.
Downtown Hanover Tries to Adapt to Changing Retail Landscape
October 6, 2018
Downtown Hanover long known as a vibrant college town has recently seen a spat of store closings which have the potential to change the fabric of the downtown. The most recent announced closure of the Barnes and Noble owned Dartmouth Bookstore has sparked fears that Hanover will be without a bookstore for the first time in 150 years. While many Hanover shops have suffered as a result of the rise of online shopping and the growth of services provided by Dartmouth College, others have figured out a way to stay in business by selling a mix of products not found in cookie -cutter chain stores or online. Still others have experimented with pop-up stores to test out the market without investing in expensive retrofits of retail spaces.
Accessory Dwelling Units Touted As Tool to Relieve Pressure on Housing Market
October 5, 2018
Nationally-known Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) expert Kol Peterson, from Portland, OR gave presentations throughout New Hampshire last week during which he promoted the development of Accessory Dwelling Units. At his presentation to a crowd of 60 people in West Lebanon, Peterson admitted that while construction of ADUs is unlikely to solve the Upper Valley’s housing shortage, it could help to add to the region’s housing stock while having little impact on existing neighborhoods and the environment. Peterson noted that ADUs can take many forms, from additions to single-family homes to standalone units in a backyard. Peterson believes that fewer homeowners than anticipated have taken advantage of the 2016 law requiring all New Hampshire municipalities to allow homeowners to build ADUs due to the cost-prohibitive nature of ADU construction which averages $100,000 for a detached ADU and requires jumping through several regulatory and construction hoops.
New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association Releases Interactive NH Energy Project Map
The New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association has released the first ever New Hampshire Energy Dashboard, an interactive map for local energy leaders to learn about their neighbor's energy projects, and connect with one another to share resources and lessons. The current version of the Dashboard includes communities with local energy committees; locations of municipal and school solar projects; state, county, municipal, and school biomass facilities; and municipalities/schools contracting for local small hydropower. As the dashboard grows additional layers covering other types of energy projects including energy efficiency, energy storage, municipal aggregation, and more will be added.
Federal Communications Commission Curtails Local Regulation of 5G Cellular Network Infrastructure
October 2, 2018
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday restricted local government’s ability to regulate the installation of infrastructure as part of the rollout of the 5G cellular network. While cellular companies claim that 5G technology will deliver internet access at least five times faster than today’s 4G networks, 5G networks require the installation of hundreds of thousands of new cellular antennas every 2,000 feet, which many localities fear will be detrimental to the character of neighborhoods and historic buildings. To help advance the rollout of the 5G network in 2019 and beyond the FCC has required that localities be limited to charging $500 for installation of 5G wireless equipment in the public way and must review all applications for the placement of 5G equipment within 90 days.
Census Bureau Releases Opportunity Atlas
October 1, 2018
The Census Bureau this week released the “Opportunity Atlas”, which contains a trove of data on median household income, incarceration rates, and marriage rates, and lets viewers dig down to the Census tract level, showing just how vastly different the future economic prospects of a child can look from one neighborhood to the next. The interactive map shows that the earlier a child moves to an above-average neighborhood, the greater their chance of escaping poverty. On average, a family that moves from a neighborhood that has below-average opportunity to one that’s above-average at the time of a child’s birth can increase that child’s lifetime earnings as an adult by $200,000, and dramatically decreases the likelihood of incarceration
Seacoast Landlords Discuss Solutions to Affordable Housing Shortage
September 30, 2018
Seacoast landlords in attendance at a special forum this week hosted by the Greater Seacoast Coalition to End Homelessness, New Hampshire Housing and Maine Housing voiced support for a plan which would allow locals to invest in targeted affordable housing projects in exchange for financial returns on their investments. The goal of the forum was also to rally more property manager to accept Section 8 housing voucher in order to increase the region’s limited Housing Choice voucher stock. Other proposed strategies which were discussed include new tax incentive programs and grants, as well as a reassurance fund that participating landlords could tap into if there was damage to the unit beyond the security deposit amount or if a tenant fell behind in rent.
City of Concord Nears Midway Point of Zoning Code Overhaul
September 30, 2018
The City of Concord is midway through its two year process to transform its zoning ordinance into a form based code system. As part of the zoning overhaul, the city’s zoning code consultant, Code Studio has released a report which assesses the existing zoning code and the number of housing units by neighborhood which are considered nonconforming structures under the existing zoning code. As part of the zoning overhaul, the City of Concord plans to rewrite its zoning code to bring many of these thousands of nonconforming structures into compliance so that the character of existing neighborhoods can be maintained while also making the code easier to understand. A draft revised zoning ordinance is expected to be released in spring 2019.
Concord Outlines Revisions to Solar Ordinance as Part of 2050 100% Renewable Energy Goal
September 24, 2018
The City of Concord, as part of its effort to achieve its 100% renewable energy goal by 2050 has released draft revisions to its solar ordinance which would make it easier to permit and construct solar arrays throughout the Capital City. Among the changes, which the City’s Energy and Environment Advisory Committee is considering, is permitting some type of solar array in almost every area of the city and defining where solar projects are allowed by conditional use. Small-scale projects would be allowed downtown and in densely populated areas of the city, while large-scale projects would be allowed in industrial areas and open spaces. The city is also in the process of creating a one-stop solar permit to prevent developers from having to seek multiple permits to construct a solar array. The City is also considering exempting solar arrays from impervious lot coverage requirements. The city’s planning board is expected to take up the ordinance in the next month or so, with a public hearing before the city council anticipated for December.
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.
Upper Valley Forum to Focus on Affordable Housing Shortage on October 26, 2018
Vital Communities and Twin Pines Housing will cohost a Fall Business Leaders Housing Breakfast on October 26th at 7:30 AM at the Fireside Inn & Suites in West Lebanon. The subject of the breakfast is to discuss solutions to the Upper Valley’s growing affordable housing shortage. Dartmouth College geographer Garrett Dash Nelson will present the regional nature of the housing challenge and possibilities for change. Realtors will also present an overview of the Upper Valley sales and rental markets at this breakfast. While the event is free of charge, registration is requested prior to October 19th.
UNH Extension to Hold Nature Economy 101 Workshop on October 30, 2018
University of New Hampshire Extension will be hosting a workshop on October 30, 2018 from 9 AM to 12 PM at The Nature Conservancy in Concord that will focus on how communities can leverage their natural assets to create community and economic vibrancy. Through case studies and interactive activities, participants will learn about connections between the environment and the economy and will have the chance to sketch out their own community’s natural assets and how they can be better utilized to advance community and economic development goals. Registration is $30.
NH Association of Conservation Commissions to Host 48th Annual Meeting on November 3, 2018
The NH Association of Conservation Commissions, which is the only statewide organization to provide education and assistance to New Hampshire’s 217 conservation commissions, will hold its annual meeting at Pembroke Academy in Pembroke on November 3, 2018. The annual meeting and conference will offer nine different tracks on the fundamentals of conservation commissions, trail building and wildlife, How to Address Easement Violations, and a host of other topics. Registration will be available soon.
NHMA Annual Conference on November 14 – 15, 2018
The New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA) will be hosting its 77th Annual Conference, Sharing Ideas: Shaping the Future, on November 14 – 15, 2018 at the Manchester Downtown Hotel in Manchester. Rebecca Rule, author of “Moved and Seconded”, the seminal book on New Hampshire town meetings will keynote the conference. The conference includes several planning-related sessions including Local Regulation of Short-Term Rentals, Land Use Law Update, Age-Friendly Communities, Demographics is the New Economic Development, Introduction to Local Land Use Boards, the Road to the 2020 Census, Increasing Community Flood Resiliency, and Recreational Trail Planning. Early-bird registration ends on October 18th. The early-bird member rate for both days is $125 and the non-member rate is $200.
Local Energy Solutions Conference on November 16, 2018 in Concord
The New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association will hosts its tenth annual Local Energy Solutions Conference on November 16, 2018 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. The clean energy focused conference will feature dozens of diverse exhibitors, four unique pitch challenges, 14 multi-track sessions featuring topic leaders, and a popular keynote address. Registration is $35 prior to October 15th and includes lunch.