North Country Council Assistance
There is no need for the applicant to be the only one with a team of experts – North Country Council’s professional planners are part of your team! Member communities can obtain assistance either occasionally as needed for large or unusual proposals or on a regular basis.
Developments with Potential Regional Impact
When a proposed development has the potential to impact neighboring communities, RSA 36:54-58 requires that the local land use board notify the regional planning commission and provide copies of the plans for review and comment. This includes subdivisions, site plans, excavation permits, zoning board decisions or even building permits. When North Country Council receives these notifications (known as “DRIs”) the professional planning staff provides guidance to the local land use board on how the potential regional impacts can be evaluated, and mitigated if negative.
In 2010 North Country Council adopted guidelines for local land use boards in evaluating Developments of Regional Impact.
Assistance with Plan Review
North Country Council (NCC) professional planning staff can be hired by the planning board to assist with the review of the application. RSA 676:4 authorizes the planning board to request special studies and to obtain independent review of documents. RSA 676:4 also provides for the cost of these services to be passed on to the applicant as part of the required fees. This assistance can be tailored to meet the needs of the planning board for the specific application in front of them. It might be structured as an impact study culminating in a technical report regarding compliance of the proposal with the municipality’s regulations and recommendations for any additional studies. Or it may provide for an NCC planner to fulfill a town planner-like role during the duration of the review of the application. This would include attending planning board meetings, participating in site visits, drafting correspondence to the applicant for planning board review, reviewing the application for completeness, and reviewing application material. Either way the cost becomes part of the applicant’s fee. Many applicants find the process to be a win-win because clear direction often results in a more efficient time-table. Pursuant to RSA 673:16 these costs do not impact the planning board’s budget and so do not need to be anticipated at budget time.
Circuit Rider Program
Communities who would like to have the services of a professional planner on a regular basis, but do not require or have funds for an employee, can contract with North Country Council (NCC) to provide assistance on a regular basis. Some communities might only need the circuit rider planner for one set of office hours and one meeting per month. Others may need weekly help. The circuit rider approach enables review of subdivision and site plan applications by a professional planner for completeness and for compliance with the town’s regulations, and ensures that the process is consistent with ever-changing state laws. Contact NCC for the current hourly rate for this service.