Another staple of land use boards in most New Hampshire municipalities is the Planning Board. Planning Boards are statutorily regulated and the powers of a Planning Board are specifically defined under the language of each individual municipal ordinance.
Makeup of Planning Boards
Planning Boards may be established by local legislative bodies. RSA 673:1. The members of a municipal Planning Board must be residents of the municipality. RSA 673:1.
The number of members permitted on a municipal Planning Board is governed by the terms of RSA 673:2. In towns, cities, and villages in New Hampshire, Planning Board membership ranges from between five (5) and nine (9) members, as determined by the local body in accordance with statutory requirements. RSA 672:3, I; II; III; IV.
Authority of Planning Boards
Statue and local ordinance defines the scope of authority of Planning Boards. The authority of Planning Boards may be best classified as duties and powers.
Planning Boards are statutorily permitted and/or required to perform the following duties:
- Prepare and amend, from time to time, a master plan to guide the development of the municipality, including the authority to make any investigations, maps and reports, and recommendations which relate to the planning and development of the municipality (RSA 674:1, I);
- At its discretion, to report and recommend from time to time programs for the development of the municipality, programs for the erection of public structures, and programs for municipal improvements (RSA 674:1, II);
- At its discretion, recommend to the local legislative body amendments of the zoning ordinance or zoning map or additions thereto (RSA 674:1, V); and
- Perform such duties granted by the municipality as may be necessary to enable the Planning Board to fulfill its function or promote municipal planning (RSA 674:1, VI).
Planning Boards are also bestowed certain powers by statute, most notably:
- The power to require preliminary review of subdivisions;
- To approve or disapprove in its discretion plats and plans; and
- To regulate, approve, and/or deny subdivisions.
In general, Planning Boards are regulated in part by New Hampshire statute, and in part by individual municipal ordinance. This dual-regulation creates commonalities among Planning Boards, while at the same time promoting individualism among all Planning Boards. For more information on Planning Boards, land use law, or related topics, please contact Alfano Law Office at (603) 856-8411. You can also contact us at this link.