Legislative Update March 5, 2021

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Legislative Update March 5, 2021

House committee rejects new septic regulations

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

The House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee voted unanimously to retain House Bill 426, relative to shoreland septic systems. NHAR opposed the legislation.

The bill would have required all septic systems older than 20 years to undergo a septic evaluation, as opposed to an inspection, while expanding the definition of “developed waterfront” to 250 feet, from the current 200 feet, from the shoreline. Copies of site assessment forms would then need to be submitted to the local health official as well as the NH Department of Environmental Services.

The Committee agreed the bill was poorly written and would place an unnecessary burden on property owners. By retaining the bill, the Committee will have the opportunity to resolve the issues with the language this fall.

Protections against COVID-19 lawsuits put on hold.

Senate Bill 63 would provide businesses with protections against lawsuits resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These protections would only extend to businesses that are following existing state and federal guidance. NHAR supports the concept, but the Senate determined that since there have been no lawsuits filed in New Hampshire at this time, the legislation may not be necessary. If suits are filed, the Senate could take up the bill later this year.

Senate passes omnibus legislation dealing with planning and zoning procedures

This week the Senate passed Senate Bill 86, which took aim at certain planning and zoning procedures. The legislation directs planning boards that require a third-party inspection during the construction process to develop a scope for the project inspection or require the applicant to provide a signed certification from the site plan designer in lieu of the third-party inspection, stating the project was built in accordance with the plans approved by the planning board.

The bill also re-establishes the New Hampshire Housing and Conservation Planning Program to assist municipalities in working toward zoning goals and planning for affordable housing in their communities and create an advisory committee, on which NHAR would have a permanent seat.

The last part of the legislation prohibits any municipality from requiring the installation of certain heating systems in homes or businesses in order to protect homeowners from unexpected costs.

The bill will now be taken up in the House of Representatives.

Housing Appeals Board looking for engineer or land surveyor

The New Hampshire Supreme Court will be accepting applications until March 24, 2021, for a currently vacant position as a member of the Housing Appeals Board. The vacant position must be occupied by a professional engineer or land surveyor.

The term of the position shall be for the unexpired portion of a four-year term ending on June 30, 2024. Members of the Housing Appeals Board are appointed by the Supreme Court and commissioned by the Governor. Members “shall be full-time employees and shall not engage in any other employment, appointments, or duties during their terms that [are] in conflict with their duties as members of the board.” Annual compensation for the position is between $63,494 and $88,387.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation regarding the 2021 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Chief Executive Officer Bob Quinn by email (bob@nhar.com) or 603-225-5549.

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