The 18 communities of the Strafford region occupy 347,893 acres, or 544 square miles, of New Hampshire real estate. How that land is used has an obvious—and significant—effect on what our future will look like and—to a larger extent—on the character and quality of life in our corner of the state. From 1998 to 2010, the region’s developed land grew by almost one-third and now accounts for about 16 percent of the total. The rest is forest (about 65 percent), wetlands (8 percent), water (5 percent), agricultural land (4 percent), and idle or other open space (2 percent). (Source: GRANIT)
For more information on current trends in land use, see the Regional Land Use Trends section of Local Solutions for the Strafford Region: Telling our Story.
SRPC provides land use planning and other technical assistance to member communities and is often able to match their projects with grants from state or federal agencies. Our professional staff works with municipalities, non-profits, other partner agencies, and citizens to understand their concerns, issues, and questions related to land use. Then, we develop cost-effective, tailored strategies that may include a mix of services such as the following:
SRPC has provided planning services under contract to the Town of Northwood since September 2014. Our regional economic development planner, James Burdin, assumed the duties of town planner in March 2017, shortly after joining SRPC. In the role of contract town planner, James reviews site plan evaluations and makes recommendations to the planning board. He also assists with other activities, including updating the Northwood Master Plan.
SRPC will soon begin assisting Barrington on an update to its community facilities and utilities chapter of the town’s master plan. The chapter will review current conditions and future needs of the town’s public safety infrastructure, schools, public library, recreation, town hall, community services, stormwater management, and utilities. It will include strategies and recommendations to help the town maintain and improve its key infrastructure and resources.
The process will began with the formation of a steering committee in fall 2018. The steering committee will oversee the work and ensure ample opportunity for public participation. The steering committee will have seven members, including one member from the Planning Board, and will work closely with the land use department and SRPC staffers throughout the chapter’s development.
The master plan is designed to help the community meet change responsibly and guide its growth in an orderly manner. It specifies, as clearly and practically as possible, the best and most appropriate future development to aid the Planning Board in designing ordinances and to guide the board in the performance of its other duties. Barrington began the comprehensive update of its master plan in 2016 and has updated chapters on existing land, demographics and housing, vision and community character, and economic development (see below).
SRPC provided Farmington’s contract town planner from July 2015 to March 2017. The work involved reviewing site plans, subdivisions, and other land use applications; assisting applicants; and making recommendations to the town planning board. Our contract town planner also worked with the planning board to update Farmington’s zoning ordinance and land use regulations, attended all planning board and zoning board of adjustment meetings, and provided education about, and assistance with, economic development.
In June 2015, Barrington contracted with SRPC to work on updating the town’s 11-year-old master plan. The first updated chapters, covering housing and demographics and existing land use, were adopted by the select board in August 2016.
During Fiscal Year 2017, SRPC staffers assisted with the preparation of the vision chapter for Barrington’s master plan. The process began with the town’s formation of a steering committee, which held a visioning event in February 2017. The event was meant to reaffirm the results of a similar community profile visioning session held in 2014 with the help of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. We used input from both events in developing the master plan chapter. The final draft of the vision and community character chapter was adopted in July 2017.
We also worked on the economic development chapter of the Barrington Master Plan, which was completed in FY 2018 and adopted by the select board in May 2018.
In March 2014, SRPC began working on updates to the Durham Master Plan. Ten of the 11 chapters we worked on were adopted by the planning board in November 2015. Our work on the chapters involved research and analysis, coordination with town committees, revisions, and presentations to municipal officials and to volunteers. The 10 chapters address housing and demographics, community character, existing land use, energy, agriculture, natural resources, historic resources, downtown and commercial core, economic development, and recreation.
In 2017, SRPC worked with the town on a community forum to collect public input on the town’s future land use decisions. Following the forum, we documented and analyzed written comments, maps, and summaries provided by the meeting facilitators. This information informed our drafting of the master plan’s future land use chapter, which was adopted in January 2018.
SRPC began working with the Town of Newmarket on updating selected chapters of the town’s master plan in the spring of 2015. Our work included participating in visioning forums and surveys, meeting with town committees and boards, and completing the vision, housing and demographics, and future land use chapters. The town council adopted the vision chapter and the housing and demographics chapter [download] in November 2015. The future land use chapter, including mapping elements, was adopted in July 2016.
Strafford Regional Planning Commission
150 Wakefield Street, Suite 12
Rochester, New Hampshire 03867
Tel: (603) 994-3500 Fax: (603)994-3504