New Hampshire’s regional planning commissions are hard at work to learn just what citizens want to see in their state’s future.
The Nashua Regional Planning Commission is joining the eight other commissions across the state to guide future changes through their Granite State Future project. Each region will update their respective regional plans based on the needs of each region, but all RPCs are coordinating their efforts to save money and share information.
“We want to make sure that when each town is making their decisions, they are doing so based on the best information we can provide them,” said project manager Jeff Belanger.
New Hampshirites can simply visit the website and share their ideas of how to improve the quality of life in their area. The commission is focusing on the following topics: regional housing needs assessment, fair housing and equity assessment, transportation, water infrastructure (utility and public service), economic development, climate change impacts assessments (natural hazards), energy efficiency and green building
Belanger said that they have already gotten tons of feedback both online and from entries he has received from visiting events throughout the region. All of the collected ideas will be posted and searchable on Granite State Future.
“The foundation of this plan is what people want in their communities,” said Belanger. “We want all views represented.”
New Hampshire’s Regional Planning Commissions are advisory bodies voluntarily formed by their member communities. The NRPC covers Amherst, Brookline, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, Lyndeborough, Mason, Merrimack, Milford, Mont Vernon, Nashua, Pelham, and Wilton.
NRPC senior regional planner Jen Czysz said this coordinated effort between the regions is a first time effort to effectively address regional plans simultaneously across the state. The data they gather will benefit all regions and strengthen the role of a regional plan as a resource for each town as they work on their master plans, zoning mapping and transportation planning.
In order to accomplish this, the nine regions joined together to apply for a grant, rather than compete with one another. They received a $3.37 million HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant this year to enact their plans.
Czysz said that regional plans in the state haven’t been updated consistently and are often not as comprehensive as they should be. This year’s group effort to work together will allow them to work simultaneously to make sure they are done right.
NRPC plans to have their regional plan finished before the grant ends in Jan. 2015. The next step in this long-term process is to assemble the information on Granite State Future and begin hosting public workshops around the topics addressed. The NRPC will host an open house at their office in Merrimack later this month to kickstart this process.
Want to get involved? Visit their website for more ways to be a part of the process. Granite State Future will also host an online public forum-like tool for those looking give further feedback on their region’s future.