The Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC) is seeking a full time Regional Planner to join its tightly-knit, award-winning team. The RPC region is a vibrant landscape of rural, suburban and urban communities located in southeast New Hampshire just an hour north of Boston, minutes to the New Hampshire beaches and a short trip to the White Mountains. The RPC enjoys a close relationship with its member communities and federal, state and regional partner organizations in the fields of transportation, land use, environmental planning, public health, housing, and economic development.
The ideal candidate will have a background in urban planning at the municipal or regional level, experience with municipal land use boards, elected officials and municipal staff, and a familiarity with transportation and environmental planning. The Regional Planner will provide services directly to municipalities and land use boards and commissions including application and plan review, ordinance and regulation development, master plan preparation and work with other RPC staff on a variety of land use, transportation, economic development and environmental projects. With twelve member communities in the NH coastal zone, the Regional Planner may also work collaboratively with our federal state and local partners on a variety of Coastal Resilience projects.
Applicants should possess a bachelors or master’s degree in Urban or Environmental Planning or a related discipline and three to five years of relevant professional work experience. A valid driver’s license and reliable transportation are necessary and attendance at evening meetings is required. Applicants must have superior presentation and written communication skills. The RPC offers a flexible work environment that encourages continued professional development in an atmosphere that promotes a healthy work-life balance. The RPC offers a competitive benefits package with health and dental insurance, paid sick leave, and vacation as well as New Hampshire State Retirement benefits. Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications.
To apply, submit a succinct cover letter telling us why you are the right candidate for this job. Include a resume listing relevant experience. The letter and resume should be sent to Annette Pettengill at apettengill@theRPC.org. This position will remain open until filled or the recruitment is cancelled. The RPC is an equal opportunity employer.
The Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC), as the federally designated Metropolitan Transportation Organization (MPO) for the region, announces its intent to amend the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to account for scope, schedule and cost changes to projects. The TIP is a prioritized list of federal and state funded transportation projects cooperatively developed by NH DOT and representatives RPC communities and currently includes projects with work scheduled from fiscal years 2021 through 2024. This update helps maintain consistency with State project programming documents and the RPC Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). Copies of all documents are available on the RPC public engagement portal linked at https://www.publicinput.com/2021TIP as well as the RPC website at https://www.therpc.org/TIPAmendments. Copies will also be mailed to interested parties by request.
A public comment period for the Amendments begins Thursday July 1, 2021 and concludes on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. A public hearing to consider the changes and any received comments is scheduled for Wednesday July 14, 2021, beginning at 7:00 PM at the Stratham Town Offices, 10 Bunker Hill Avenue, Stratham. There is an option to participate in the meeting via a call-in phone line (number below). Please check the public engagement portal or the RPC website for the most up-to-date information on how to access the meeting. The Planning Commission will meet after the public hearing to adopt the changes to the TIP.
As of July 20, 2013, all of New Hampshire is unclassifiable/attainment for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (the 2008 ozone standard) and as of April 6, 2015, the 1997 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (the 1997 ozone standard) is revoked for all purposes, including transportation conformity purposes in the Boston-Manchester-Portsmouth (SE) NH area.
Consistent with the RPC’s Public Participation Process, this notice and comment period is also intended to meet FTA requirements for public comment on the programs of transit projects put forward by NHDOT, UNH and the COAST and CART transit systems.
I think we can sum up FY2021 with “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. With the arrival of COVID-19 last March the resilience of our region was challenged. We were forced to rapidly pivot to a new normal: remote learning and working, no gyms, no theaters, closed restaurants and record unemployment.
We shuttered our doors and rapidly adapted remote working technology for our staff, commissioners, and member communities. We advanced our work program and provided our members with resources to support their planning needs in these uncertain times. Through our partnership with the Town of Exeter, the RPC worked to provide our communities with information to access relief funds. We worked with local and state officials to reopen beaches and support outdoor dining. Perhaps most importantly, as region we learned, adapted and became more resilient.
Our 2021/2022 Work Program highlights some of this past year’s work, a summary of our proposed budget for FY2022as well as a look ahead at some of the work we will take on as a region in the upcoming year.
NH Planning Commissions Announce Statewide Model Drinking Water Buffer Regulation
New Hampshire - Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC) and Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC) are pleased to announce that as part of a joint effort, a model buffer regulation for communities to consider adopting to help protect local sources of drinking water will be available soon.
Funding from a 2020 NH Department of Environmental Services Local Source Water Protection grant was awarded to the Rockingham Planning Commission to develop a statewide model Drinking Water Quality Buffer Regulation for New Hampshire. The model will be helpful for a community considering how to protect surface water used as a source of drinking water. This model reflects guidance and feedback from local and statewide experts including the Model Drinking Water Buffer Regulation Advisory Committee, and other technical studies. The model recommends a minimum drinking water quality buffer based on these studies and offers guidance for considering landscape level and site-specific criteria to increase the minimum buffer, when appropriate, to provide increased protection for water quality.
The creation of this model is timely. For decades it has been recognized in New Hampshire that changes in land use and land conversion, alteration of drainage patterns, and loss of protective riparian areas have led to a decline in water quality. These stressors include population growth, alteration to natural landscape functions for commercial, residential, and industrial purposes, and climate change impacts such as drought in recent years. As development pressures continue, it will be imperative that communities work collaboratively to act, which include maintaining natural, vegetated buffers that protect valuable drinking water resources and may help improve water quality when implemented.
The planning commissions will be presenting the final draft model Drinking Water Quality Buffer Regulation to regional and statewide stakeholders at a workshop being held on Monday, May 24, 2021 from 2:00-4:00pm. All NH municipalities and stakeholders are welcome to attend this free workshop which will be held via online video conference. An invitation, registration information, and workshop agenda will be widely distributed and posted soon to the project website (see below).
For more information about the project, May workshop, and to view the draft model and other project resources please visit the project’s webpage.
How about some time outside? Events around the region!
Spring is here but COVID lingers on. Are you back to a worksite? Still working from home balancing Zoom meetings and kiddo coverage? There’s probably never been a more important time to get outside in nature, decompress and enjoy some fresh air. What better way to do that than with a few fun activities for Seacoast Bike/Walk Month in May? Although we’ve had to postpone our in-person bicycling events again this year, there are still several activities planned to get you and your family outside in a safe and socially distanced way. Check out the calendar of events for Seacoast Bike Month at www.seacoastbikes.org and www.therpc.org/trailpassport.
In coordination with the Strafford Regional Planning Commission, the Seacoast Area Bicycle Riders, and several local bike shops in the region, the Rockingham Planning Commission presents the Seacoast Trails Passport. During the month of May, explore a set of ten specific trails throughout the region and record your visits to win prizes. The passport encourages you to get out and explore some of the great trail networks throughout the region. Some of these trails may be old favorites but we hope others will be new discoveries! Download the full Passport at www.therpc.org/trailpassport where you can view the list of trails and start logging your visits through our digital passport. For every trail you complete, your name will be entered to win a gift certificate and swag from the region’s local bike shops. We hope you have fun exploring these ten suggested routes and we look forward to seeing your entries! For more information visit the link above.
Municipalities along New Hampshire’s coast are increasingly taking steps to adapt to rising seas and climate change. With grant funds from New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program, Rockingham Planning Commission is developing a user-friendly coastal land use guide to inform local decision makers about climate change and increase the resiliency of our region. The coastal land use guide will cover a wide range of resilience and adaptation priorities, challenges, and opportunities in all 17 of New Hampshire’s Coastal Zone municipalities. Additionally, RPC is developing a framework for a regional sustainability program to help facilitate actions across New Hampshire’s coastal comminutes. This project is being conducted in partnership with the Strafford Regional Planning Commission, with support from multiple local and state partners.
Project funder, Kirsten Howard, NHDES Coastal Resilience Program Coordinator, shared that “This project is going to create some much-needed guiding language to help all of our coastal communities formalize the ways that they plan for increasing coastal flood risks and the ways that they create community resilience in land use policy. The DES Coastal Program is thrilled to be able to support the project and looks forward to the valuable products it will produce.” The guide will help facilitate adoption of recommended best practices by local decision makers using the best available New Hampshire based science, policy, and guidance. Implementation of model regulations and standards will be supported by ready to use products and provide multiple mechanisms for long-term adoption success and tracking of their effectiveness. Planning Commission is developing a user-friendly coastal land use guide to inform local decision makers about climate change and increase the resiliency of our region. The coastal land use guide will cover a wide range of resilience and adaptation priorities, challenges, and opportunities in all 17 of New Hampshire’s Coastal Zone municipalities. Additionally, RPC is developing a framework for a regional sustainability program to help facilitate actions across New Hampshire’s coastal comminutes. This project is being conducted in partnership with the Strafford Regional Planning Commission, with support from multiple local and state partners.
Given the challenges posed by climate change, the project will develop a framework for a regional sustainability and resiliency program, including a funding concept, as the long-term strategy to implement the coastal land use guide recommendations, and more broadly to increase the capacity of coastal municipalities to adapt and thrive. Tim Roache, Executive Director of the RPC, says that “addressing coastal hazards are important to our entire region and the guide will provide our communities with tools to plan for those changes.” The regional sustainability and resiliency program will be modeled after similar initiatives undertaken in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Examples of successful regional cooperation, organization and implementation will be showcased.
This project was funded, in part, by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program.
RPC’s Legislative Policy Committee is tracking approximately two dozen bills related to goals and policies in the RPC Regional Master Plan as well as bills likely to be of interest to RPC member communities. The tracking list is available on our website. The Legislative Policy Committee is still determining whether RPC will submit comment on any of the measures. Most bills at this point have been acted on by their initial committee of referral. Many House bills are awaiting the next floor session the week of April 6. Crossover Day, the deadline for action in the chamber where a bill is introduced, is April 10. Examples of measures being tracked include the following:
SB099 - Relative to the amount of meals and rooms tax revenue that is distributed to municipalities. This would remove the annual increase limit on the distribution of meals and rooms tax revenues to municipalities so that 40 percent of net revenues are distributed annually. Current status: Laid on the Table
HB216 - Relative to public notice of and access to meetings under the right-to-know law. This bill would allow continued use of virtual meetings by public bodies subject to RSA 91-A following the end of the Governor’s Emergency Order on COVID-19. RPC has found virtual meetings to increase public participation. Provisions of the bill allow remote meetings if all participating can hear all other participants and requires the meeting be adjourned if electronic connection fails. Current Status: In Committee
HB279 - Relative to the maximum allowable vehicle gross weight for a combination of truck-trailer and single semi-trailer with 4 or more axles. This bill increases the maximum gross weight allowed on any tandem axle from 36K to 40K lbs per axle for a combination of truck-tractor and single semi-trailer with 4 or more axles that carries forest products. NHDOT opposes this bill based on the damage that overweight vehicles do to roads and the increased maintenance and reconstruction costs. If passed this would likely set a precedent for expansion to include other types of freight beyond forest products. Current Status: In Committee
CACR9 - Providing that a municipality may not raise property taxes more than two percent per year and no more than one percent per year on disabled citizens or senior citizens. NHMA notes that this is a limit on total tax revenue, not just rate, so if a town was able to lower its budget and tax burden in one year it would reset revenue limit at a lower level going forward. CACR9 was voted Ought to Pass in the House Municipal & County Government Committee by a vote of 10-9. Current Status: Report Filed
Instructions on how to testify for Capitol House and Senate Bills click here.