Navigating the development and subdivision permitting process
Navigating the waters of municipal permitting to obtain the approvals necessary for a land development project or subdivision can be difficult.
Navigating the waters of municipal permitting to obtain the approvals necessary for a land development project or subdivision can be difficult. There are specific statutory requirements, as well as individual municipal requirements, that must be followed. An improper or incomplete submission can cause costly delays, and a denial of an application can bar submission of future applications for the same or a similar proposal.
To avoid these pitfalls, and to avoid a waiver of appeal rights upon receiving a denial, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney who is experienced in land use matters early on in your project.
Land development projects and subdivision proposals require review and approval from the municipality's planning board. It is important to realize that the statutory definition for a subdivision is very broad and applies to a number of projects. If you are unfamiliar with the process or if you do not have an experienced attorney, it is a good idea to sit down with your municipality's code enforcement officer/building inspector and/or the municipality's planner in the beginning stages of your project to ensure you understand all of the requirements for your project and the deadlines for submission.
You can request a "preliminary conceptual consultation" before the planning board to discuss your project in a non-binding setting before submitting a formal plan to the planning board – which will require formal notice to the public and to abutters.
If your project does not comply with the requirements set forth in the municipality's zoning ordinance, you must obtain relief from the zoning board ("ZBA") by requesting either a special exception or a variance. Whether you need a special exception or a variance is explained in the municipality's zoning ordinance.
There are also specific, and sometimes confusing, requirements for an appeal from a decision of the planning board or the ZBA. Motions for rehearing and appeals must be made within a certain time period, or you will waive your right to appeal. These requirements can be found in the New Hampshire statutes and in the municipality's ordinance.