Public participation is vital to the RPC Commission MPO. It helps provide the MPO the broadest spectrum of relevant information available prior to its decision-making and offers the public an opportunity to raise concerns that can be considered along with discussion of technical, political and economic merit. The MPO actively seeks to solicit the comments and engage the interests of the public through the participation process. It then is the responsibility of the MPO and the NH Department of Transportation to balance the public’s needs and desires with resources available to address those needs and desires.
MPO Staff are directed to incorporate appropriate activities to make public communications and outreach a part of the agency’s overall planning activities. In addition to required public hearings, such activities may include: representative task forces or advisory committees; public meetings and workshops, presentations and discussions with special interest organizations, forums or conferences that provide information about issues and processes and the opportunity for input from the public; opinion polls, surveys, focus groups and interviews to acquire information; and use of the media and reports to disseminate information.
The MPO seeks to reduce or eliminate language, mobility, temporal, and other obstacles that may prevent minority, disability, low-income and other under-represented populations from fully participating in the metropolitan planning process. It is the policy of the MPO to locate all public meetings in facilities that are structurally accessible. Meetings of the MPO Technical Advisory Committee are held during the day at the Rockingham Planning Commission offices, which are ADA accessible as well as accessible by COAST regional transit service. Meetings of the MPO Policy Committee are rotated around the MPO region, and held mainly in town halls or public libraries. Given the limited nature of public transit in the region, the policy of the MPO to rotate meetings among member communities, and the fact that many municipally-appointed volunteer Commissioners hold day jobs unrelated to their MPO participation, some meetings of the MPO Policy Committee are held in locations or at times of day when they are not accessible by public transit.