Implementation Update: Local Solutions for the Strafford Region

Five years ago, Strafford Regional Planning staff were handed an essential responsibility, a task that would require synergy, outreach, research, and analysis, a task so comprehensive that the nine regional planning commissions in the state would join forces for the common good. The challenge at hand was to plan for the future of our Granite State. This three year effort was an important  collaboration on behalf of dozens of state entities, non-profits, New Hampshire organizations, planners, citizens and other stakeholders. The outcomes, nine carefully crafted regional plans and a statewide report of future conditions and plans for the state of New Hampshire, were released to the public in early 2015.

In January 2015, 3,300 comments, 12 appendices, and 11 votes of approval later, SRPC released their own Local Solutions for the Strafford Region. In the two years following, SRPC staff has dedicated time to ensure the plan is not “left to sit on the shelf”, but rather implemented through SRPC’s multiple planning efforts. In Local Solutions for the Strafford Region a variety of implementation projects were identified (see pages 111-125) to create a framework for moving the plan to action.

The images below contain implementation projects SRPC staff members have put in place, or are working on in an ‘ongoing’ status.

implementationmatrix_forblog013020172 implementationmatrix_forblog013020173implementationmatrix_forblog013020174

­Learn about some of the projects we have implemented in depth (identified by an exclamation point next to the appendix listing):

Develop community-wide or watershed-wide databases of septic system users that could be used by communities addressing non-point source pollution associated with leaking or failing septic systems:

In FY2015, Strafford Regional Planning Commission received a NHDES 604(b) Water Quality grant to develop a parcel-based septic system database for three neighborhoods in Durham. This project, which was funded by a grant through the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services – Watershed Assistance Section, was conducted by the Strafford Regional Planning Commission Principal Planner Kyle Pimental in partnership with the Town of Durham. This project was noteworthy considering the limited available information on the condition and maintenance of residential septic systems.

As the final element to this project, SRPC staff sought interested landowners to participate in the installation of a Permeable Reactive Barrier (PRB) on their property as a pilot demonstration project, implementing new septic technology for nitrogen management. This follow-up implementation project has been proposed for NHDES Watershed Assistance funding. For more information on this effort contact Kyle Pimental at kpimental@strafford.org or at (603) 994-3500.

Obtain Economic Development Administration Economic Development District Designation in CY2015

In January 2015 Strafford Regional Planning Commission was designated as an Economic Development District. The Strafford EDD (SEDD) works to serve the communities in Strafford County, and Brookfield and Wakefield in Carroll County. The main functions of SEDD include maintaining and implementation the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), providing technical assistance to local governments and non-profits to align economic development goals and priorities, and serving as a point of contact between communities and the EDA.

Encourage communities to incorporate higher standards for water quality and stormwater management:

SRPC staff members Liz Durfee (Senior Regional Planner) and Kyle Pimental (Principal Regional Planner) received funding from NHDES’s Local Source Water Protection Program to work with Rochester and Farmington on updating their municipal groundwater protection ordinances. The City of Rochester adopted their revised ordinance in June 2015, while the Town of Farmington adopted their ordinance in March 2016.

Planner Pimental, in partnership with the Milton Conservation Commission, assisted the Town of Milton in completing a groundwater protection audit. Planner Durfee worked with the Town of Rollinsford to complete a stormwater regulation update.

Convene a panel of experts and host an educational workshop on climate change impacts and opportunities to collaborate across the region for public works facility managers and municipal staff.

For the SRPC 2016 Annual Meeting, SRPC highlighted the importance of integrating academic research and planning projects through the lens of climate change. The guest panelists included included Jayne Knott, UNH Ph.D Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering; Steve Couture, Coastal Program Manager at the NH Department of Environmental Services; Jack Mettee, AICP-Chair, Cocheco Waterfront Development Advisory Committee; and Senator David Watters. The panel of experts discussed improving partnerships and incorporating research into planning. Much of the discussion circled around climate change and its implications on regional planning efforts, such as: flooding due to sea-level rise and increased storm surge, salt water intrusion and the impact to drinking water, groundwater modeling efforts at UNH, and the completion of the Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission’s Final Report.

Educate communities and residents about alternative sources of energy

For the September 2016 quarterly Commission meeting SRPC staff invited guest speakers Charlie Forcey (Durham Energy Committee) and Andrew Kellar (NHSolarGarden.com) to speak about the benefits of solar (sustainability, energy cost savings), incentives for municipalities, and additional advantages associated with this alternative source of energy.

Support stronger partnerships with University of New Hampshire

SRPC has contracted with UNH Ph.D Student Jayne Knott to carry out a Local Source Water Grant project focusing on assessing the effect of saltwater intrusion on the Town of Newmarket’s public drinking water supplies. This project began in June 2016 and will run for 12 months. The outcome will include maps created with groundwater modeling data, public outreach and education based on the results, and a final report with recommended next steps. Senior Planner Liz Durfee is the contact on this project and can be reached at edurfee@strafford.org or at (603)994-3500.

Work with communities to develop/update Master Plan Housing and Demographic Chapters

Over the past three years SRPC has been contracted to work on the Housing and Demographic chapters of the master plans for the communities of Durham, Newmarket, and Barrington. This work was completed by Senior Regional Planner Matt Sullivan. SRPC offers their services to other communities looking to update their master plans.

SRPC will continue to work to implement projects from Local Solutions for the Strafford Region throughout their different projects and entities at SRPC. Learn more at www.strafford.org