Legislative Update Feb. 27, 2024

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Seeking faster driveway permitting

House Bill 1202 sets specific deadlines by which the Department of Transportation (DoT) has to issue permits on class I and class III highways, and the state-maintained portion of class II highways, for residential uses, including multifamily developments. NHAR supports the legislation.

Property owners have expressed concerns that DoT would sometimes take multiple months to issue driveway permits, which ground projects to a halt and increased costs. The bill was amended after DoT expressed concerns about the language applying to commercial developments as well.

The amended version of the bill says that for any existing or proposed residential use of land, including multifamily development, the DoT must issue the permit within 30 days of filing. If the department were to fail to approve or deny a permit within that time, it would be required to issue a permit by default, allowing the applicant to proceed with the project. The department and the applicant may mutually agree to extend a deadline.

Similarly, a municipal planning board would be required to specify a reasonable time for it to act on residential driveway permits, not to exceed 65 days. Rep. Joe Alexander (R-Goffstown) and Rep. Ben Baroody (D-Manchester) were instrumental in crafting the bill and getting unanimous support for the amended language.

The bill has passed the House and will be heard by the Senate this spring.

Well, well, well, look what the legislature is up to 

House Bill 1483 would allow a planning board to require a “water supply study” as a part of a subdivision approval. The bill does not define what a water supply study would entail, but it does state that the study is to ensure there is an adequate water quantity to support existing, proposed and reasonably anticipated future land and associated water uses. It would only apply to subdivisions using private wells.

NHAR is concerned that a town could impose a complete hydrogeologic study, which is very expensive and would be challenging for a planning board to interpret, on all subdivisions. The NH Department of Environmental Services has indicated that while subdivisions have had water issues related to low-yield or dry wells, those incidents are rare. 

Increasing costs on housing will exacerbate the state’s affordability crisis, and the high cost of a hydrology study could simply be used to block housing development.

The House Resources, Recreation and Development voted 11-9 that the bill should be killed. The full House of Representatives will vote on the bill in March.

DIY septic replacement would need OK

House Bill 1140 would allow a homeowner to install their own “replacement” septic system or to repair an existing septic system, provided they comply with existing state regulations adopted by the New Hampshire Department. of Environmental Services (NHDES). The property owner would be required to hire a permitted septic system designer or permitted septic system installer to certify that the system was constructed in accordance with the NHDES rules.

Additionally, the property owner would need to certify through an affidavit that the property will be their domicile for at least two years.

The legislation passed the House of Representative and will be heard in the Senate later this spring.

Quote of the Week

“We have hit a lot of roadblocks on a local level. Local jurisdiction is challenging for developers. It is harder and harder to work with them every year to be able to bring in any type of housing.”

Karen LaMontange, Vice President of LaMontagne Builders (“Housing advocates expressing optimism,” Valley News, February 26, 2024)

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

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