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.
Governor Sununu Releases 10-Year Energy Plan
April 17, 2018
The New Hampshire Office of Strategic Initiatives released the first update to the state’s 10-year energy strategy since 2014. The strategy focuses on promoting all forms of energy, which will result in lower electricity rates for consumers. New Hampshire currently has some of the highest electricity rates in the country. The strategy seeks to move away from subsidizing one form of energy over another while recommending the addition of nuclear power and large-scale hydro from Quebec to the state’s renewable energy portfolio. It is now up to the state legislature to choose whether to act on it or not.
New Hampshire House Weighs Creation of Housing Appeals Board
April 17, 2018
The House Finance Committee held a hearing Tuesday on House Bill 557, which would create a three-person Housing Appeals Board. The bill, which has already passed the Senate, would cost an estimated $768,000 annually to implement. The Housing Appeals Board (“HAB”) would give developers aggrieved by a local planning or zoning board decision, an alternative venue to file an appeal. The HAB would be required to hold a hearing within 90 days and issue a decision in 60 days. Under existing law developers only option is to appeal to Superior Court, a process that takes an average of three years.
SEC to Meet on May 24th to Reconsider Northern Pass Denial
April 17, 2018
The Site Evaluation Committee will meet on May 24th at 9AM in Concord to consider motions for rehearing their February 1st denial of the Northern Pass project. Eversource Energy, the project’s proponent, has until April 28th to file a motion for rehearing.
Planning Board Basics Workshop in Merrimack on May 17, 2018
The Nashua Regional Planning Commission is hosting an informational workshop titled “Planning Board Basics”, on May 17, 2018 from 6 – 8 PM. The workshop will be presented by Stephen Buckley, Legal Services Counsel for the NH Municipal Association and will focus on a basic breakdown of what being a member of a planning board entails. Topics that will be discussed include: member responsibilities, duties of the planning board, basic planning board organization, meetings, public hearings, pertinent laws and RSAs, master plans, capital improvements programs, types of applications and timelines, procedures, etc. Registration is free, but required.
New Hampshire Housing Multi-Family Housing Conference in Portsmouth on May 18, 2018
The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority will be holding its 2018 Multi-Family Housing Conference titled, “New Approaches to Affordable Housing Finance”, on May 18, 2018. Registration for the half-day conference is $50.
Broadband Planning and Wireless Tower Permitting Workshop in Plymouth on May 10, 2018
UNH’s Broadband Mapping and Planning Program will be hosting a workshop titled “Broadband, Cable Franchise Agreement & Wireless Tower Permitting” on May 10, 2018 from 3:30 – 5 PM. The workshop will focus on various broadband issues in NH, including access and use, negotiating renewals of cable franchises, and telecommunication law as it pertains to wireless facilities and managing the approval process. Registration is free, but required.
Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) Grant Applications Due June 22
The LCHIP program provides matching grants to communities and non-profits to conserve and preserve New Hampshire's most important natural, cultural and historic resources. The LCHIP program will open its 17th funding round for applications to this program. The round will open on May 1st, with applications accepted until June 22. Those wishing to apply are required to attend a grant workshop in Concord on May 1st. Registration for the workshop is available here.
2018 Spring Planning and Zoning Conference - April 28, 2018
Reminder: The 24th Annual Spring Planning and Zoning Conference will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH. You can register online.
Plan NH Announcements
- NH Municipal Technical Assistance Grant (MTAG) Applications due June 1 , 2018
- Missing Middle Housing Workshop on June 7 in Concord
Monadnock Region Peaks Now Connected by Trail
April 11, 2018
After 25 years of diligent efforts, a trail connecting two prominent Monadnock Region peaks is finally complete. The Wantastiquet-Monadnock Trail, named after the two peaks that it connects, extends nearly 50 miles primarily on public land. The Wantastiquet-Monadnock Trail Coalition, that worked to establish the connection, is planning a series of celebrations this year, including hikes along the 50-mile trail.
VW Draft Mitigation Plan Released
April 10, 2018
The Office of Strategic Initiatives recently released the state’s draft beneficiary environmental mitigation plan, which describes the proposed expenditure of $31M allocated to New Hampshire. There funds represent New Hampshire’s share of a $15 billion settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Justice Department, based on alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. OSI and the Department of Environmental Services will hold public comment sessions on the draft plan throughout the state, beginning on April 30. Written comments will be accepted by OSI until Tuesday, June 5, 2018.
Climate Change Will Damage N.H.’s Cultural Heritage Sites
April 10, 2018
According to UNH research, projected sea-level rise will result in a loss of 14% of coastal prehistoric and cultural sites in less than 100 years. This finding is particularly significant, and troubling, given the Seacoast’s important role as a tourist destination and its strong demographics and economic growth. Unfortunately, no easy solution exists, and communities must make difficult decisions as their cultural heritage sites begin to wash away.
Laconia Master Plan Efforts Seek to Foster Population Growth
April 7, 2018
In an effort to encourage smart residential growth, and increase local vibrancy, Laconia is in the process of reviewing its master plan (and potentially revising its zoning ordinance). Neighborhoods serviced by extended municipal water and sewer could allow for more dense construction and mixed-use development in an effort to achieve the master plan’s vision and land use goals. Driving factors for the revised master plan are a lack of affordable housing, an aging population, and a declining school enrollment.
Zoning With Blockchain Technology?
April 2, 2018
This thought-provoking article questions whether machine-learning algorithms (think of cryptocurrency) could respond more dynamically to community zoning needs. Intended to make zoning outcomes more responsive to community desires, it attempts to create a more nuanced system of incentives for developers than traditional zoning. Skeptics point to the potential to magnify structural inequities and a lack of public accountability.
2018 Local Officials Workshops
April 3, 2018
Presented by NH Municipal Association's Legal Services attorneys, these workshops provide municipal officials with tools and information to effectively serve their communities. Topics will include the Right-to-Know Law, ethics and conflicts, town governance, municipal roads, and more. Ample time allowed for questions, answers, and discussion. Various dates and locations.
NH Home Values Continue to Rise…Placing Increased Pressure on An Already Strained Housing Market
April 2, 2018
New Hampshire's housing market, already plagued by record low inventory, has seen home values balloon over the past year. While the 6.1% statewide increase in home values over the past year is beneficial to current home owners, it has made it increasingly difficult for first time home buyers and families to find an affordable home under $300,000. The construction of new housing can't come quick enough as New Hampshire attempts to attract more skilled workers.
SEC Written Decision Solidifies Northern Pass Denial
March 30, 2018
The Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) issued its long awaited written decision denying the 192-mile Northern Pass project on Friday March 30th. The written decision follows the SEC’s February 1st vote denying the project its needed Certificate of Site and Facility. The written decision states that Eversource Energy failed to demonstrate that the project will meet the requirement “that it not interfere with the orderly development of the region”. Eversource Energy has 30 days to appeal the decision.
Northern Pass Loses Energy Contract with Massachusetts
March 28, 2018
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has revoked its contract to purchase electricity from Northern Pass for the next 20 years. This decision is a result of the Site Evaluation Committee’s February 1st denial of the Northern Pass project and subsequent decision to postpone reconsideration of its February 1st denial until its written decision is released in May. The decision leaves Northern Pass and Eversource Energy without a clear buyer.
Flooding Rates Surge along East Coast Roads
March 28, 2018
According to researchers at UNH, flooding rates have surged 90% along coastal roads along the eastern seaboard over the past 20 years. Nuisance flooding, resulting from seasonal high tides or minor wind events is expected to increase in frequency with the continued rise in sea levels. This may also result in damage and impact to roadways further inland than ever witnessed before.
NH Senate Boosts Biomass Energy
March 26, 2018
The NH Senate has passed two bills, which would require the state’s energy providers to purchase power from the state’s biomass plants, small hydroelectric facilities, and waste-to-energy incinerators at above-market prices. While the bills will be a boon to these renewable energy producers, it may result in an increase in electricity rates for customers.
New Hampshire’s population is changing rapidly, and housing inventory in most communities cannot meet future or even current demand – in part, due to outdated local ordinances and regulations. Plan NH’s MTAG Program provides funding, through a competitive application process, to communities who wish to expand options for places to live through zoning regulations. Plan NH, in partnership with New Hampshire Housing, is pleased to announce a fourth round for applications to this program. Applications are due June 1, 2018.