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Planning News

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.

Current News | Previous News

Current News

Housing Construction Shortage To Continue Until At Least 2022
September 11, 2019

The rate of new single-family construction in the U.S. has yet to recover to historic norms following its collapse during the Great Recession – and real inroads are not expected to be made until 2022 or even later, according to a survey of economists and real estate experts released by Zillow. The survey found that a majority of respondents expect new single-family construction in the U.S. to remain below a 1 million-unit annual pace until 2022 or later. Historically, single-family housing starts have averaged more than 1 million units a month and reached heights of more than 1.8 million in 2006 before plummeting during the Great Recession. Activity has picked back up since then, but has yet to again reach the historic average.

NHPR’s The Exchange Focuses on Balancing Conservation and Development in New Hampshire
September 10, 2019

Tuesday’s edition of NHPR’s The Exchange focused on the issues facing New Hampshire’s forests including finding the right balance between the need for additional housing and conserving the state’s undeveloped forest lands. Jane Difley, President of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, who is retiring on October 1st after 22 years spoke of the Forest Society’s New Hampshire Everlasting Initiative which seeks to protect 40% of land in every community throughout the state. She also acknowledged the need for new housing especially in the southern half of the state and how cluster development done right can achieve the right balance between new housing development and conservation.

Toward a Resilient Nashua
September 6, 2019

After completing two cycles of hazard mitigation planning that led to few if any measurable improvements in risk reduction, the City of Nashua realized that an important shift would be required to strengthen the role of hazard mitigation in community resilience. To help make this shift, the Nashua Office of Emergency Management (OEM) partnered with the Nashua Community Development Division to establish the Resilient Nashua Initiative to move hazard mitigation from the sidelines to the forefront, including climate adaptation and pre-disaster recovery planning efforts. The City of Nashua also realized that the initiative could not be successful unless resilience was considered in all facets of municipal operations, community planning and future capital investments. The city undertook a multi-year planning process that identified important social institutions within the community, the associated buildings and infrastructure crucial to those institutions, and the threats and hazards facing those components of the built environment. The result was a comprehensive community resilience strategy that planned and prioritized actions to reduce risk today as well as those that could be quickly implemented after a disaster. Lessons learned from the Resilient Nashua Initiative planning process are expected to be included in the city’s upcoming master plan update, “Imagine Nashua 2040.”

6 people to lead Tri-City homeless plan
September 6, 2019

The implementation of the Tri-Cities’ master plan on homelessness began this week with a new six-member group tasked with overseeing it. The first meeting of the new committee tasked with mapping out how Dover, Rochester and Somersworth can implement the plan’s seven strategies was held on September 12th and comes only a few months after all three city councils each accepted the multi-pronged master plan. The meeting also comes as cooler fall weather descends closer to a region where shelters are over capacity, demand for housing assistance continues to be high and rental housing vacancy rate remains below 1 percent. The 53-page master plan’s recommendations include: a coordinated three-city approach to opening temporary cold weather shelters next winter to protect public safety; eliminating local zoning and planning barriers that are inhibiting the development of affordable housing; creating a property tax credit program and other incentives to spur more affordable, accessible housing; enhancing homeless prevention and access to healthcare through various wraparound assistance programs; improving transportation infrastructure; and increasing citizen engagement, among other things.

Smart Land Use Drives Hazard Mitigation Webinar on September 26, 2019
As National Community Planning Month approaches, FEMA’s Community Engagement and Risk Communication (CERC) Program will be hosting a free webinar on September 26th at 1 PM titled, “Smart Land use Drives Hazard Mitigation”. Mitigation is an interdisciplinary field that uses a wide range of techniques to reduce risk. Land use planning is one of those techniques. Communities employ it to set the stage for development and growth, put building codes into context, and provide useful and effective mitigation tools. The webinar will look at the importance of applying land use solutions to reduce natural hazard risk and hear about one Colorado community’s ongoing land use planning efforts. Registration is not required.

BIA Transportation Infrastructure Forum on October 1, 2019 in Manchester
The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire will be hosting a Transportation Infrastructure Forum at the DoubleTree Hotel in Manchester on October 1, 2019 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM. The forum will feature a discussion panel with Congressman Chris Pappas (member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee), NH Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan, and Senator David Watters, chair of the NH Senate Transportation committee. Topics will include an update of New Hampshire’s 10-year highway plan, what’s new with commuter rail, and the latest efforts on Capitol Hill to get an infrastructure bill passed. The cost to attend the luncheon is $40 for BIA, BIA Capitol Connect members, and members of partnering organizations and $55 for non-members. Registration and lunch begin at 11:30 am with the presentation starting at noon.

NH Housing to Host 2019 Housing & Economy Conference on October 10, 2019 in Manchester
New Hampshire Housing’s 2019 Annual Housing and the Economy Conference will take place from 8 AM – 12:30 PM on October 10, 2019 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Manchester. The agenda will include a discussion on the Granite State's affordable housing and economic development needs, and networking opportunities for attendees. Speaking at the half-day conference include John Martin of the Institute for Tomorrow, which analyzes the impact of the generations on the future, including trends, implications and opportunities; Laura Kusisto, the Wall Street Journal’s housing and the economy reporter for 8 years; and Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic, with more than 15 year’s experience in housing economics and analyzing trends and public policy. Registration for the event is $60 and includes full breakfast and parking.

New Hampshire Summit on Economic Inclusion and Digital Equity on October 28-29, 2019 in Manchester
The New Hampshire Summit on Economic Inclusion and Digital Equity, organized by the National Collaborative for Digital Equity, will take place on October 28-29, 2019 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. The gathering will be of special relevance for New Hampshire municipalities seeking investments in broadband infrastructure. On Day Two of the summit, a workgroup, co-facilitated by Margaret Byrnes, NHMA executive director, and NHBEA director of broadband technology, Carol Miller, will explore with interested municipal, regional development, and banking leaders development of a statewide network of municipalities and banking leaders to secure investment for affordable broadband in underserved areas statewide. Attendees can participate in either Day One (on economic inclusion strategies) or Day Two (on removing digital divide barriers to economic inclusion), or both days. Registration is $35 per day or $60 for both days.

Previous News

UNH Carsey School Study Concludes the North Country Economy Is Still in Transition
September 5, 2019

More than 10 years since the 2008 recession, the North Country's economy is still considered to be in a transitional phase, according to a 10-year study by UNH's Carsey School of Public Policy published on Wednesday. In this report titled, "Tracking Change in the North Country", researchers measured regional changes in demographics and public perception of environmental, social and economic issues in Coös County and neighboring counties. The report says progress has been made in the North Country when it comes to investing in early childhood resources, infrastructure projects and studying broadband access. However, the region is still grappling with changes it faced a decade ago, such as the decline of manufacturing, the rise of tourism and a growing elderly population. Researchers concluded that the North Country shows major potential for improving the economy and raising the quality of life for residents, although growth has been slow.

NHMA’s New Hampshire Town and City Magazine Highlights OSI Planning Division
September 3, 2019

The New Hampshire Municipal Association’s (NHMA) September/October Edition of its New Hampshire Town and City Magazine features several articles about the OSI Planning Division including a history of the agency and summary of the planning services OSI currently provides, a summary of the results of the 2018 Municipal Land Use Regulation Survey, an update on Complete Street efforts throughout the state, and the release of the New Hampshire Flood Hazards Handbook for Municipal Officials. The magazine also includes several articles on hot topics in planning include public health planning, workforce housing, and short-term rentals.

New Research Details Risks of Sea Level Rise and Outlines Needs for N.H. Seacoast
September 3, 2019

A new state report says rising seas are on track to cause widespread problems in New Hampshire's coastal communities within decades. Now, regulators want public input on how the latest scientific findings could guide local resilience planning in the future. The report pdf file is the first big update, required by the legislature, of the state's initial, 2014 analysis of coastal risks from climate change. The report concludes that waters off New Hampshire will rise 1 to 3 feet by the end of the century and that the science also suggests the less likely, but still possible outcomes could be much worse than previously thought. The report covers, for the first time, how rising waters will affect New Hampshire’s groundwater, drinking water and freshwater flooding. And it includes new research on how changing wave dynamics will affect tides and storm surges. It also says the melting Antarctic ice sheet will have an accelerated impact on coastlines like New Hampshire’s beginning in 2050. The report includes a draft portion with resources and planning frameworks pdf file for municipalities. State officials will hold two public hearings, on September 10th in Rye and September 11th in Newmarket, to get input on that section.

NHDES Launches Environmental Dashboard
September 2, 2019

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has released an updated and enhanced version of the New Hampshire Environmental Dashboard. To help New Hampshire citizens get a sense of the state's environmental well-being, the dashboard provides the public with a status report on a short list of key environmental indicators, which can be viewed individually or collectively in the form of a report card. The indicators cover the spectrum of environmental topics including air pollution, coastal waters, contaminated property, drinking water, lakes, rivers, waste management, water availability, and wetlands. The discussion of each indicator includes an overview, a summary of the current condition or trend, and information on how NHDES is addressing the topic area as well as enhanced interactive graphs and maps. The Report Card provides an evaluation of each indicator represented by either a green up arrow indicating a positive condition or trend, a yellow sideways arrow for a cautionary condition or trend, or a red downward arrow for a negative condition or trend.

Conway Board of Selectmen to Host Public Hearing on Short-Term Rentals on September 24, 2019
August 29, 2019

After the Conway Planning Board voted August 22nd to send a strong message to the Conway Board of Selectmen that they need to take action to address issues relating to short-term rentals, the Conway Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday night to hold a public hearing on regulation of short-term rentals on September 24th at 4 PM, at the Marshall Gym in the new recreation center at Kennett Middle School.. The decision came after Selectman’s Representative to the Planning Board Steve Porter summarized public comments received by the Planning Board on problems relating to the impact of short-term rentals on North Conway Village and the fact that the use of homes as short-term rentals is creating a shortage of housing for year-round workers in the area. An estimated 500 private rentals, which include homes, condos and rooms in houses, are located in Conway.

Regional Planners push Claremont to diversify housing stock
August 28, 2019

Regional planners told the Claremont Planning Board Tuesday night that the city needs to have more flexible and adaptable zoning laws for housing construction, to meet long-term needs of a diverse community.
During Tuesday night’s housing study discussion, Steve Schneider and Olivia Uyizeye of the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Planning Commission presented a short list of recommendations to make city zoning accommodate a broader variety of smaller or multi-unit housing options, as well as strategic approaches to improve the quality of existing housing stock. “There’s a life cycle of housing types,” Schneider said. “You start out in an apartment, maybe with housemates or maybe by yourself. You transition to a starter home, a family home then to an empty nest home. Those are all diverse housing types and there’s a demand for all of those.” The area’s aging population will likely drive the future need for more senior housing and smaller, economical living units, Schneider said. Schneider and Uyizeye recommended city zoning laws allow for more varieties of multi-unit housing, such as duplexes, triplexes and accessible dwelling units and smaller-sized individual units like tiny houses.

Panel looks at legislation for Laconia State School property redevelopment
August 27, 2019

The Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission (LRPC) tasked with determining the best use of the former Laconia State School property is working to draft legislation to define the future governance of the site. The LRPC is the fourth group to be created by the Legislature to look at redeveloping the prime 200-acre site since the early 1990s after the closing of the school for developmentally disabled people. The LRPC voted unanimously to forward the master plan that has been developed for the property in conjunction with NBBJ of Boston. The consultant recommends a mix of residential development, with a blend of retail, lodging, medical offices and other businesses, some with agricultural links and a sports complex. The theme for the project, “A Great Laconia Neighborhood,” emphasizes that the city is a great place to live and a community-wide destination.

How Opportunity Zones and Co-Working Spaces Joined Forces
August 23, 2019

Opportunity zones were created to spur development in distressed neighborhoods, but developers in some areas are struggling to find tenants for their new properties. The opportunity zone program, enacted as part of the federal tax overhaul in December 2017, was created to stimulate private investment in economically distressed communities in exchange for a break on the capital gains tax. There are now more than 8,700 such zones nationwide. One of the biggest challenges, however, is finding businesses to move into opportunity zones. Their savior may be another rising trend in commercial real estate: co-working. Lured by the lower cost of shared office space, start-ups also gain access to a network of eager investors looking for companies to back, a combination that is helping to create incubators in underserved markets, which could help fuel an economic turnaround in some of these formerly distressed areas.

New Hampshire Ranks Among States With Lowest Percentage of Vacant Homes
August 21, 2019

A new report by real estate consultancy ATTOM Data Solutions finds that the number of vacant properties nationwide, while still a serious issue, continues to shrink since its peak after the Great Recession. The company’s Q3 2019 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report, which looks at properties that have been abandoned by their previous owners, found that roughly 1,530,563 U.S. single-family homes and condos stood vacant in the third quarter of 2019, representing 1.6 percent of all homes. More than 304,000 homes were in the process of foreclosure during the third quarter of 2019, roughly 22 percent less than at the same time in 2016. New Hampshire was joined by Connecticut, Delaware, Colorado and Idaho for having the lowest percentage of total properties vacated due to possible foreclosures.

How Laconia Is Confronting An Airbnb Boom
August 21, 2019

Short-term rentals have cropped up all over New Hampshire in recent years. In June, there were over 5,000 listings on Airbnb and VRBO in the state, most notably in popular tourist towns around the White Mountains, Lakes Region and the Seacoast. These rentals, though, have caused problems in many communities throughout New Hampshire. Some neighbors have raised complaints about loud parties, absentee owners who live out of state and a changed sense to the neighborhood. The City of Laconia has recently stepped in as one of the first communities in New Hampshire to formally recognize and regulate short-term rentals. The City Council voted to legalize short-term rentals in June. Before then, short-term rentals have been technically banned in Laconia, although city officials acknowledge that enforcement of this policy has been lax. Before the new ordinance is fully rolled out, the city is debating a number of rules for short-term renters. The most recent draft requires owners of short-term rentals to (1) pay a fee for fire inspections and an abutter’s notice, (2) provide mandatory off-street parking, (3) limit renting to 184 consecutive days or 18 guest visits (whichever comes first), and (4) renew their permit every year.

Multigenerational Housing Development Proposed in Amherst
August 20, 2019

Preliminary plans are being drafted to potentially develop about 80 acres of vacant land into one of the state’s first multi-generational housing development in the Town of Amherst. The goal, if the project moves forward, is to build an integrated neighborhood that would serve a wide market with single-family homes, ranches, duplexes, homes with accessory dwelling units, senior housing, rentals, handicap-accessible units and more. Conceptual plans have been introduced to the planning board, which include the possibility of three new neighborhoods or villages that could bring up to 65 homes into Amherst along New Boston Road and Boston Post Road. One village could include 19 larger units with single-family homes, duplexes or homes with accessory dwelling units along Boston Post Road, according to the conceptual plans. The second village could potentially house 14 units of single-family homes or possibly condominiums, and the third village could include 32 smaller condo units along New Boston Road, state the preliminary plans. It has not yet been determined whether some of the units would be classified as affordable housing

Group seeks affordable high speed internet throughout Carroll County
August 19, 2019

A group calling itself Carroll County Broadband seeks to bring high-speed internet access to every home and business in Carrol County and is seeking letters of commitment from each town by September 1, 2019. As of Monday, 13 of 19 Carroll County communities have expressed interest including Chatham, the northernmost town in the county, and Wakefield, the southernmost town. Carroll County Broadband, through the North Country Council, along with three partner organizations, is applying for a $250,000 USDA Rural Community Development Initiative grant to fund a feasibility study to determine which areas aren't being served with fiber optic or are undeserved with slow internet and examine the possibility of getting high-speed internet access into every home and business in the county. Carrol County Broadband expects to hear if they have received the USDA grant in September or October.

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NH Office of Strategic Initiatives
Governor Hugh J. Gallen State Office Park
Johnson Hall, 3rd Floor  |  107 Pleasant Street  |  Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-2155  |  fax: (603) 271-2615