Town of Amherst NH

Special Projects

The Community Development Office is working on the following special projects (scroll down for more information):
Septic System Ordinance – Driveway Regulations – Round II Community Planning Grant -NRSP and Historic District Regulations Update – Regulatory Review

Modernizing the Septic System Ordinance

The Town of Amherst was awarded over $22,000 in 2013 to combine, simplify, and update the water resource related ordinances. The zoning related changes were approved by the voters at the March 2014 vote, leaving the last piece, the Water Pollution Control Regulations (to be known as the Septic System Ordinance) to be completed.

Staff in the Community Development Office have worked with the Town’s consultants and several local contractors to update the ordinance, which was originally adopted in 1976 and modified in 2003. A draft has been finalized to be presented by the Health Officer, Dr. Katherine Lockwood to the Board of Selectmen for adoption through two public hearings scheduled for Monday, May 12th and Tuesday, May 27th (Memorial Day is Monday).

The updated Septic System Ordinance allows for new technologies approved by the State of New Hampshire, such as serial distribution systems, clarifies the replacement-in-kind process to align with the State’s process, and removes the requirement for the Town to inspect all test pits prior to the submission of the application.

Your septic system is a highly efficient biological system that can effectively digest and disperse your household sewerage and other organic wastes. Properly designed, installed, and maintained, it should give you many years of trouble-free service, but only if it is properly maintained. The key to the life and service of any septic system is proper maintenance.

The full ordinance is available here or through the Community Development Office. If you have any questions or concerns please let us know!

 

Resurfacing the Driveway Regulations

Current Driveway Regulations  – - – -  Draft Driveway Regulations

Driveways are everywhere! Driveways are the main contact point between private property and the public roadway or right-of-way, thus creating one of the most prevalent types of intersections in Amherst.

The Town first adopted Driveway Regulations as part of the Subdivision Regulation (Section 5.3) in 1988 through the Planning Board’s authority to adopt and enforce Driveway Regulation under RSA 236:13.  As these intersections play a critical role in providing property owners access to their land and maintaining the Town’s roadway network, the time has come to update them with current best management practices.

In partnership with the Department of Public Works, the Office of Community Development drafted revised regulations to meet the following key goals:

  • Clearly detail driveway permitting and construction requirements
  • Provide a simplified waiver process
  • Allow for “Temporary Access Points”
  • Protect the Town’s roadway system; and
  • Comply with federal stormwater management standards

The proposed draft regulations make significant strides toward meeting the above goals. The permit process now includes a timeframe to review and approve permits, and detailed drawings specifying construction standards. In addition, the revised regulations no longer require Planning Board approval for all deviations from the regulations; a time-consuming step for all. Waivers can now be granted by the Director of Public Works (or designated agent), depending on the specific circumstances of the proposed driveway location and topography.

Also new, the revised regulations will allow for a second classification of Driveways called “Temporary Access Points”, with simplified construction standards. A Temporary Access Point permit might be utilized if a property owner wanted to have a pool installed in the back yard or to manage a wood lot over the course of several weeks, if the best point to reach their land was from a location other than the driveway. A Temporary Access Point permit would not require any paving, but will ensure the Town’s roadway system is protected by requiring a basic construction entrance/exit be installed. A construction entrance/exit will prevent mud and debris from being tracked onto a roadway, into our stormwater system, and will protect the edge of pavement from damage.

If you have any questions please contact Sarah Marchant at smarchant@amherstnh.gov or 673.6041.  The Planning Board will officially hold a public hearing on May 21st for adoption of the proposed Driveway Regulations. Your questions and feedback are welcome!

Round II Community Planning Grant

In March, 2013, the Town of Amherst and the Planning Board were awarded a grant of $29,300 to combine and update the water resource ordinances with current Best Management Practices for the Watershed Conservation, Wetlands Protection and Aquifer Conservation Districts in order to protect the high quality drinking water and watershed of the Town of Amherst and the Region. The revisions to these ordinances will be an important contribution to protecting the Town’s and Region’s natural resources, while providing clear guidance for land use management and future development of the community.

Based on feedback obtained through public discussions and worksessions, the Wetlands & Watershed Protection Conservation District (WWCD) and Aquifer Conservation and Wellhead Protection District have been finalized and were posted by the Planning  Board for the 2014 Ballot at the 12/18/13 Public Hearing. For more information please contact Sarah Marchant, Community Development Director, at smarchant@amherstnh.gov or 673-6041.

HDC Regulations Revisions

The Historic District Commission revised the way dead, dying and diseased trees can be removed within the Historic District to reduce liability for property owners, while balancing their duty to maintain the historic landscapes of the district. The final language is available in Section D of the Zoning Ordinance under Section 8.02.

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The Historic District Commission adopted the following criteria for determining when a wavier should be granted from the District Regulations. By adopting the criteria both applicants and the Board have the advantage of knowing what factors are most important in deliberations and that the purpose and intent of the district will be protected. The following language is was adopted at the Commission’s July 18th meeting:
Section 2.1.C: The Commission shall have the discretion to waive any condition contained in these Regulations for good cause shown. A waiver of these Regulations will be granted if each of the following conditions is found:
  1. Granting the waiver would benefit the public interest
  2. By granting the waiver substantial justice would be done
  3. Granting the waiver would not be contrary to the spirit and intent of the regulations
  4. Granting the waiver would not be detrimental to the historic character, environment, scenic value or general welfare of the Town.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments please feel free to contact the Community Development Office or your neighbors who volunteer on the Commission. Official public notice of the hearing will come later in September.

Regulatory Review

In July, 2012 the Town of Amherst was awarded a grant of $12,500 to conduct a Regulatory Review of the land use related ordinances and regulations to accomplish the first priority action listed in the 2010 Master Plan to: update the zoning ordinance and subdivision and site plan regulations to reflect current practice and to provide clear guidance for land use management.

The Regulatory Review has been completed and was accepted by the Planning Board at their April 17, 2013 public meeting.

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