land use

State Water Plan Process: Municipalities Have a Crucial Stake

Water has shaped the history of New Hampshire’s communities, in many ways defines their unique character today and will continue to influence their future. The state boasts more than 1,000 lakes and large ponds, 17,000 miles of mapped rivers and streams, 238 miles of ocean and estuarine coastline, and hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands. Stratified-drift aquifer deposits cover 14 percent of the state and groundwater in bedrock fractures provides water supply via public and private wells to most rural New Hampshire communities.

Protecting Groundwater Resources

Many states and leading experts continue to stress the importance of containing and managing hazardous materials as a necessary strategy to maintain water quality. Managing hazardous materials to avoid releases to New Hampshire’s water continues to be an important goal to ensure high-quality water resources. Releases of hazardous materials, such as gas, oil or solvents, often occur when stormwater washes them from commercial or industrial activities and into surrounding water resources.

Understanding Developments of Regional Impact

Land use boards are faced with the challenge of ensuring that developments bring positive benefit to the local community. As if weighing the merits locally weren’t hard enough, there is also the issue of regional impact to consider. In an effort to get the word out about the Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) process, the New Hampshire Association of Regional Planning Commissions presented a session at the New Hampshire Local Government Center Annual Conference last November.

But, It’s Grandfathered! Six Common Myths about Nonconforming Uses

The term “grandfathering" is heard regularly in local government. Planning boards, zoning boards of adjustment, building inspectors, selectmen, code enforcement officers—all may be called upon from time to time to determine whether certain land uses are allowed, whether they may continue, and in what form. Often, these officials are met with the assertion that a building or business or activity is “grandfathered" and must be allowed.

Finding Balance: 25 of 28 Towns Approve Conservation Appropriations at Town Meeting

For those elected officials and professional administrators who bear the responsibility for running New Hampshire’s cities and towns, 2008 is a challenging budget year. The snowplowing season, like your least favorite relative, came early, stayed late and busted the budget throughout the visit. Fuel prices are draining police, highway and school budgets. The cost of road paving, driven in part by oil prices, is painfully high. Education funding formulas turn financial crystal balls cloudy—receiver today, donor tomorrow.

Navigating Environmental Permitting Issues

With each passing decade, debates surrounding environmental issues have become more common across the nation. Here in New Hampshire, the Town of Hopkinton has found itself at the center of one such debate, with officials and concerned citizens joining forces in an effort to protect air and water quality for the community.

New Hampshire Estuaries Project: Protecting the Coastal Watershed

New Hampshire boasts what is considered by many to be one of the richest coastal estuary systems in the country. In addition to 18 miles of ocean coastline, New Hampshire has 230 miles of sensitive inland tidal shoreline, consisting of bays, tidal rivers and salt marsh systems. The Great Bay Estuary System is comprised of nearly 150 miles of tidal shore land; approximately 4,500 acres of tidal waters and wetlands, along with 3,000 acres of coastal land, comprise the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

New Laws Require Updates to Zoning Ordinances

By Cordell A. Johnston, Esq.

November heralds the arrival of the most special time of the year: zoning amendment season! For most towns, the deadline to post notice of proposed zoning amendments is in early January, and the process of drafting the amendments necessarily begins a few months earlier.

Agricultural Commissions: Keeping Agriculture Viable in New Hampshire Communities

How many farms are there in your community? Does your master plan include a chapter on, or any discussion of, agricultural resources? Is a farmer required to go through full site plan review to put up a seasonal farmstand? These are questions that a local agricultural commission can help to answer.

Age-Restricted Housing in New England

Forty years ago President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act prohibiting discrimination in housing based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status (families with children). Although other federal laws prohibit age discrimination in employment, age discrimination was not addressed in the Fair Housing Act.