Legislative Update April 30, 2024

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A nod to manufactured housing

House Bill 1361 is intended to clarify existing law relative to municipal obligations to provide reasonable opportunities for the siting of manufactured housing, and to ensure a town cannot exclude manufactured housing completely from the municipality. 

The bill also makes it clear that municipalities must allow “reasonable and realistic opportunities” for the expansion of manufactured housing parks existing as of July 1, 2024.  

Both the House and Senate have approved the legislation, and it is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Alleviating cost burden on new septic systems

House Bill 1139 would alter the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) approval of plans and specifications on sewage systems. NHDES supports the bill.

The bill states that the NHDES must permit stone and pipe and concrete chamber systems for residential use to be designed and constructed 24 inches above the seasonal high water table, providing there is a minimum of six inches of sand under the stone and pipe system and that the distance above the seasonal high water table is maximized to the extent practicable.

The US Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other New England states, allow for similar specifications. NHAR supports the legislation. It is estimated that approval of such a system could save property owners thousands of dollars.

The hearing was held last week and was met with opposition from the manufacturer of plastic tanks. Expect action on the bill next month.

Proxy voting in condominium meetings

House Bill 1129 defines “directed” and “undirected” proxies for the purpose of voting in condominium meetings, and it would allow the unit owner to designate either a directed or undirected proxy. 

Under existing statute, no person can have more than 10 proxies. While directed proxies are permitted, they are not codified in statute. As a result, some associations have not allowed them.

The bill passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate later this week.

Loons and temporary seasonal docks

House Bill 472, a holdover bill from the 2023 legislative session, would have allowed the executive director of the Fish and Game Department to adopt rules temporarily restricting the use of temporary seasonal docks and anchored seasonal platforms to protect endangered wildlife species, specifically loons.

Despite proponents emphasizing the importance of taking measures to protect endangered wildlife species, NH Fish and Game opposed the bill, citing concerns about funding and enforcement of the potential provisions, also noting that they currently have the authority needed to protect the loon nesting areas. 

The Senate has voted to interim study the legislation, meaning it is dead for 2024.

Quotes of the Week

You have people who are saying, ‘I’m not going to be able to afford to live here and my kids are not going to be able to afford to live here. They now can say, ‘I see an option (ADUs) for my family (to stay) in the community that doesn’t involve needing to run away because we can’t afford it.” 

–Greenfield Planning Board Member and former Planning Board Chairman Dave Thimmel (“Towns across NH bid adieu to tough restrictions on ADUs,” Union leader, April 11, 2024)

“A lot of people want these ADUs. We found this to be a homegrown solution that allows families to adapt to the needs of their own families and the community. We hear folks say all the time that people who graduated from New Ipswich five or six years ago cannot afford to live here.” 

–New Ipswich Planning Board Chairman Deirdre Daley (“Towns across NH bid adieu to tough restrictions on ADUs,” Union leader, April 11, 2024)

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: bob@nhar.com.

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