TITLE LXIV
PLANNING AND ZONING

Chapter 672
GENERAL PROVISIONS

Purpose

Section 672:1

    672:1 Declaration of Purpose. –
The general court hereby finds and declares that:
I. Planning, zoning and related regulations have been and should continue to be the responsibility of municipal government;
II. Zoning, subdivision regulations and related regulations are a legislative tool that enables municipal government to meet more effectively the demands of evolving and growing communities;
III. Proper regulations enhance the public health, safety and general welfare and encourage the appropriate and wise use of land;
III-a. Proper regulations encourage energy efficient patterns of development, the use of solar energy, including adequate access to direct sunlight for solar energy uses, and the use of other renewable forms of energy, and energy conservation. Therefore, the installation of solar, wind, or other renewable energy systems or the building of structures that facilitate the collection of renewable energy shall not be unreasonably limited by use of municipal zoning powers or by the unreasonable interpretation of such powers except where necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare;
III-b. Agriculture makes vital and significant contributions to the food supply, the economy, the environment and the aesthetic features of the state of New Hampshire, and the tradition of using the land resource for agricultural production is an essential factor in providing for the favorable quality of life in the state. Natural features, terrain and the pattern of geography of the state frequently place agricultural land in close proximity to other forms of development and commonly in small parcels. Agricultural activities are a beneficial and worthwhile feature of the New Hampshire landscape. Agritourism, as defined in RSA 21:34-a, is undertaken by farmers to contribute to both the economic viability and the long-term sustainability of the primary agricultural activities of New Hampshire farms. Agricultural activities and agritourism shall not be unreasonably limited by use of municipal planning and zoning powers or by the unreasonable interpretation of such powers;
III-c. Forestry, when practiced in accordance with accepted silvicultural principles, constitutes a beneficial and desirable use of New Hampshire's forest resource. Forestry contributes greatly to the economy of the state through a vital forest products industry; and to the health of the state's forest and wildlife resources through sustained forest productivity, and through improvement of wildlife habitats. New Hampshire's forests are an essential component of the landscape and add immeasurably to the quality of life for the state's citizens. Because New Hampshire is a heavily forested state, forestry activities, including the harvest and transport of forest products, are often carried out in close proximity to populated areas. Further, the harvesting of timber often represents the only income that can be derived from property without resorting to development of the property for more intensive uses, and, pursuant to RSA 79-A:1, the state of New Hampshire has declared that it is in the public interest to encourage preservation of open space by conserving forest and other natural resources. Therefore, forestry activities, including the harvest and transport of forest products, shall not be unreasonably limited by use of municipal planning and zoning powers or by the unreasonable interpretation of such powers;
III-d. For purposes of paragraphs III-a, III-b, III-c, and III-e, " unreasonable interpretation " includes the failure of local land use authorities to recognize that agriculture and agritourism operations or activities as defined in RSA 21:34-a, forestry, renewable energy systems, and commercial and recreational fisheries, when practiced in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, are traditional, fundamental and accessory uses of land throughout New Hampshire, and that a prohibition upon these uses cannot necessarily be inferred from the failure of an ordinance or regulation to address them;
III-e. All citizens of the state benefit from a balanced supply of housing which is affordable to persons and families of low and moderate income. Establishment of housing which is decent, safe, sanitary and affordable to low and moderate income persons and families is in the best interests of each community and the state of New Hampshire, and serves a vital public need. Opportunity for development of such housing shall not be prohibited or unreasonably discouraged by use of municipal planning and zoning powers or by unreasonable interpretation of such powers;
III-f. New Hampshire commercial and recreational fisheries make vital and significant contributions to the food supply, the economy, the environment, and the aesthetic features of the state of New Hampshire, and the tradition of using marine resources for fisheries production is an essential factor in providing for economic stability and a favorable quality of life in the state. Many traditional commercial and recreational fisheries in New Hampshire's rivers and estuarine systems are located in close proximity to coastal development. Such fisheries are a beneficial and worthwhile feature of the New Hampshire landscape and tradition and should not be discouraged or eliminated by use of municipal planning and zoning powers or the unreasonable interpretation of such powers.
IV. The citizens of a municipality should be actively involved in directing the growth of their community;
V. The state should provide a workable framework for the fair and reasonable treatment of individuals;
V-a. The care of up to 6 full-time preschool children and 3 part-time school age children in the home of a child care provider makes a vital and significant contribution to the state's economy and the well-being of New Hampshire families. The care provided through home-based day care closely parallels the activities of any home with young children. Family based care, traditionally relied upon by New Hampshire families, should not be discouraged or eliminated by use of municipal planning and zoning powers or the unreasonable interpretation of such powers; and
VI. It is the policy of this state that competition and enterprise may be so displaced or limited by municipalities in the exercise of the powers and authority provided in this title as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this title.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1985, 68:1; 335:3; 369:1. 1989, 42:1; 170:1. 1990, 174:1; 180:1, 2. 1991, 198:1. 2002, 73:1. 2008, 299:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2010; 357:2, 3, eff. July 11, 2009. 2016, 267:2, 3, eff. June 16, 2016. 2019, 338:4, eff. Sept. 5, 2019.

Words and Phrases Defined

Section 672:2

    672:2 Definition of Words and Phrases. – The following words and phrases when used in Title LXIV shall have the meanings given to them in this chapter.

Source. 1983, 447:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1984.

Section 672:3

    672:3 Abutter. – "Abutter" means any person whose property is located in New Hampshire and adjoins or is directly across the street or stream from the land under consideration by the local land use board. For purposes of receiving testimony only, and not for purposes of notification, the term " abutter " shall include any person who is able to demonstrate that his land will be directly affected by the proposal under consideration. For purposes of receipt of notification by a municipality of a local land use board hearing, in the case of an abutting property being under a condominium or other collective form of ownership, the term abutter means the officers of the collective or association, as defined in RSA 356-B:3, XXIII. For purposes of receipt of notification by a municipality of a local land use board hearing, in the case of an abutting property being under a manufactured housing park form of ownership as defined in RSA 205-A:1, II, the term " abutter " includes the manufactured housing park owner and the tenants who own manufactured housing which adjoins or is directly across the street or stream from the land under consideration by the local land use board.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1986, 33:2. 2002, 216:1, eff. July 15, 2002.

Section 672:4

    672:4 District Commissioners. – "District commissioners" means the board of commissioners of a village district or precinct.

Source. 1983, 447:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1984.

Section 672:5

    672:5 Ex Officio Member. – "Ex Officio member" means any member who holds office by virtue of an official position and who shall exercise all the powers of regular members of a local land use board.

Source. 1983, 447:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1984.

Section 672:6

    672:6 Local Governing Body. –
"Local governing body" means, in addition to any other appropriate title:
I. Board of selectmen in a town;
II. City council or board of aldermen in a city;
III. Village district commissioners in a village district; or
IV. County commissioners in a county in which there are located unincorporated towns or unorganized places.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1989, 266:7, eff. July 1, 1989.

Section 672:7

    672:7 Local Land Use Board. – " Local land use board " means a planning board, historic district commission, inspector of buildings, building code board of appeals, zoning board of adjustment, or other board or commission authorized under RSA 673 established by a local legislative body.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 2010, 226:4, eff. Aug. 27, 2010.

Section 672:8

    672:8 Local Legislative Body. –
"Local legislative body" means one of the following basic forms of government utilized by a municipality:
I. Council, whether city or town;
II. Mayor-council;
III. Mayor-board of aldermen;
IV. Village district or precinct;
V. Town meeting; or
VI. County convention.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1985, 103:18. 1989, 266:8, eff. July 1, 1989.

Section 672:9

    672:9 Mayor. – "Mayor" means the chief executive officer of the municipality, whether the official designation of the office is mayor of a city, city or town manager, the board of selectmen of a town, the board of commissioners of a village district, the county commissioners of a county in which there are located unincorporated towns or unorganized places, or any other title or any official designated in the municipal charter to perform the duties of "mayor."

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1989, 266:8. 1991, 377:3, eff. Aug. 31, 1991.

Section 672:10

    672:10 Municipality. – "Municipality" or "municipal" means, includes and relates to cities, towns, village districts, and counties in which there are located unincorporated towns or unorganized places.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1989, 266:8, eff. July 1, 1989.

Section 672:11

    672:11 Planning Board. – "Planning board" means and includes city, town, village district, and county planning boards, in counties which contain unincorporated towns or unorganized places, established under the provisions of RSA 673.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1989, 266:8, eff. July 1, 1989.

Section 672:12

    672:12 Selectmen. – "Selectmen" means the board of selectmen of a town and the county commissioners of a county in which there are located unincorporated towns or unorganized places.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1989, 266:8, eff. July 1, 1989.

Section 672:13

    672:13 Street. – "Street" means, relates to and includes street, avenue, boulevard, road, lane, alley, viaduct, highway, freeway and other ways.

Source. 1983, 447:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1984.

Section 672:14

    672:14 Subdivision. –
I. "Subdivision" means the division of the lot, tract, or parcel of land into 2 or more lots, plats, sites, or other divisions of land for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of sale, rent, lease, condominium conveyance or building development. It includes resubdivision and, when appropriate to the context, relates to the process of subdividing or to the land or territory subdivided.
II. The division of a parcel of land held in common and subsequently divided into parts among the several owners shall be deemed a subdivision under this title.
III. The grant of an easement in gross to a public utility for the purpose of placing and maintaining overhead and underground facilities necessary for its transmission or distribution network such as poles, wires, cable, conduit, manholes, repeaters and supporting apparatus, including any unstaffed structure which is less than 500 square feet, shall not be construed as a subdivision under this title, and shall not be deemed to create any new division of land for any other purpose.
IV. The rent, lease, development, or grant of an easement to a person for the purpose of placing and maintaining a wireless communications facility shall not be construed as a subdivision under this title, and shall not be deemed to create any new division of land for any other purpose. For purposes of this paragraph, "wireless communications facilities" means any towers, poles, antennas, or other unstaffed structure of less than 500 square feet intended for use in connection with licensed transmission or receipt of radio or television signals, or any other licensed spectrum-based transmissions or receptions. This paragraph shall not be deemed to affect other local zoning, site plan, or regulatory authority over wireless communications facilities.

Source. 1983, 447:1. 1988, 75:1. 1998, 299:1, 2, eff. June 1, 1999.