New Hampshire's regions and communities are faced with increasingly complex decisions regarding investments and ways of moving into the future. Decisions about historic and natural resources, land use, public health, housing, energy, transportation, resource management and economic development must be prioritized by all decision makers. The State's Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) work solely to advise and assist their respective member communities by providing technical studies, data analysis, collection, and interpretation, and cohesion with state agencies and community groups in order to make informed decisions for the benefit of their constituents.
This page outlines the, legal structure and participation, primary duties, relationship to member communities, and formation of the regional planning system in New Hampshire (RSA 36:45-58).
Revised Statutes Annotated – Chapter 36
Legal Structure & Participation:
New Hampshire's Regional Planning Commissions are advisory organizations formed by their member communities. State law established Regional Planning Commissions in 1969 with most being created in the 1970's for the purpose of providing technical planning assistance to communities in the form of:
Through a comprehensive study, the state's Office of Energy and Planning has separated the state into nine (9) regions for the purpose of forming the Regional Planning Commissions. While
communities may choose to be a member, and participation is voluntary, 91% of New Hampshire municipalities are members of their Regional Planning Commission today.
RSA 36:50 - Relationship to Member Communities:
Regional Planning Commissions serve and advise their member communities not only by providing requested technical assistance, but they work to address the various regional issues raised by member communities each year. As stated within RSA 36:50, Regional Planning Commissions may assist local planning boards within the region to carry out any regional plan or plans developed and may also render assistance on local planning problems. In addition, Regional Planning Commissions may make recommendations based on its plans and studies, to any planning board, selectmen, town/city council, or alderman within the region and to any state or federal authorities.
RSA 36:45 - Primary Duties:
For more than 40 years, many of New Hampshire's communities have found the regional planning commission advice and technical planning assistance to be extremely valuable. Regional planning, (particularly dealing with issues that cross municipal boundaries such as transportation, environment, economic development and land use impacts) assists communities to grow into the places that they aspire to become.
In addition to providing requested services for member communities, a primary duty of the Regional Planning Commissions as stated in RSA 36:47 is to prepare a coordinated plan for the development of the region, taking into account present and future needs with a view toward facilitating the most appropriate use of land, transportation and communication, economic location, public utilities and services, and to promote the development of adequate recreational areas, good civic design, and the wise and efficient expenditure of public funds. While the recommendations contained in these plans are intended to assist communities, they are not enforceable by law or regulatory effect. Communities within the region may consider the recommendations and advice of the Regional Planning Commissions, contained within planning studies and other efforts, but6 are not bound to do so. The Regional Planning Commissions have no authority to diminish or appropriate any of the powers given to local government under New Hampshire laws and constitution. Enabling statue RSA 36:47 states; a regional planning commission's powers shall be advisory, and shall generally pertain to the development of the region within its jurisdiction as a whole. Nothing in this subdivision shall be deemed to limit any of the powers, duties or obligations of planning boards in individual municipalities.
RSA 36:46 – Formation of RPCs:
The nine Regional Planning Commissions are governed and controlled by Boards of Commissioners from member communities. Each Commissioner is nominated by their community's Planning Board and appointed by the elected Local Governing Body (Selectmen, City Council, Mayors or Aldermen). Commissioners from municipalities serve as volunteers and represent the interests of their community and constituents. Municipalities may select residents who are appointed, or elected officials to be their representatives. Commissioners serve a term of four (4) years and representation is based on each community's population. Communities with a population of 10,000 or fewer persons have two (2) representatives on the Commission, 10,000 – 25,000 will have up to three (3) representatives, and a municipality with a population of over 25,000 may have up to four (4) representatives.
Strafford Regional Planning Commission
150 Wakefield Street, Suite 12
Rochester, New Hampshire 03867
Tel: (603) 994-3500 Fax: (603)994-3504