While many housing and land use decisions are made at the local level, state-level legislation plays an important role in influencing the shape of municipal ordinance. Without enabling state legislation, towns and cities in NH often lack the authority to implement novel policies not addressed in state law. State legislation can also provide an important policy mechanism for addressing issues like housing that span municipal boundaries.
Below is a roundup of some of the housing bills being considered during the 2020-2021 legislative session. If you’re interested in discussing and organizing around any of the bills below, you might be interested in joining the Monadnock Housing Roundtable, which serves as a forum for discussing housing issues, including state-level policy. We’ll be updating this post periodically as new legislative language becomes available.
Key points: Repeals the state’s housing appeals board, which provides an alternative process to the Superior Court for settling disputes between developers and municipalities. The board was created through legislation passed during the 2019-2020 session and began accepting appeals in January of 2020.
Key points: Requires municipalities to permit by right a variety of housing configurations in residential zoning districts served by to municipal water and sewer service or that can be connected to such service. Permittable configurations include a single 4-unit building, 2 duplex units, 4 single units, one duplex unit with 2 accessory dwelling units, 4 townhouses, or one single family house with 3 accessory dwelling units.
Key points: Establishes a commission on homelessness, with members including state legislators, local officials, representatives of non-profit-organizations, federal agency designees, and others. The commission would be charged with submitting an interim report by November 1, 2021, with legislative recommendations.
Key points: Charges the NH Office of Strategic initiatives with developing training materials for planning and zoning board members (participation in training is optional); mandates that local zoning incentives for senior housing must also be extended to workforce housing; requires that inclusionary zoning ordinance do not impact the “economic viability” of housing developments in comparison with developments that do not mandate housing affordability; extends the period of tax relief available to housing developments under RSA 79-E; makes various modifications to planning board procedures; grants authority to communities who have adopted a Municipal Economic Development and Revitalization District (RSA 162-K) to acquire real property through eminent domain for purposes of residential development; establishes a voluntary Housing Champion Certification Program for towns and cities.
Key points: Defines a tiny house as a structure built either on a permanent foundation or chassis suitable for travel on public roadways; permits tiny houses by right in any single-family zoning district; permits tiny houses in any zoning district where detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are permitted; mandates that all municipal and state building codes for single-family homes shall apply to tiny houses; mandates that local zoning provide for “tiny house parks.”
Key points: Expands eligible lending purposes under the Low and Moderate Income Housing Loan Program (administered by NH Housing Finance Authority) to include projects aimed at improving energy efficiency and use of renewable energy resources. The program provides direct support to low and moderate income homeowners.
Sponsors: Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Sen. Watters, Dist 4; Sen. Perkins Kwoka, Dist 21; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Rep. McWilliams, Merr. 27
Key points: Establishes a Housing and Conservation Planning Program administered by the NH Office of Strategic Initiatives. The Program would provide technical assistance matching grants to municipalities “to plan for growth and development in a manner that permits a balanced housing stock.”
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