Planning and Zoning Process
The City of Claremont’s Planning and Development Department prepared the following as a guide to assist applicants, agents and landowners in their effort to seek approval from the City of Claremont Planning Board for a proposed subdivision or site plan.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
Step 1: Review the proposed project for its consistency with the City of Claremont’s local land use regulations (Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulations, Site Plan Review Regulations). This information can be found at the City’s Municode website. The Zoning Ordinance is located in Chapter 22 of the municipal code followed by the Subdivision and Site Plan Review Regulations. The proposed use should be allowed by right or have the ability to acquire a special exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), otherwise a variance will be required from the ZBA.
Step 2: Before an applicant spends too much time and effort with the proposal, he/she should meet with the City staff of the City’s Planning and Development Department to review the proposal in general terms in order to receive preliminary staff comments and observations. These comments will strengthen the application.
Step 3: Identify, with the help of City staff, issues with the proposal that require a special exception or variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment or a waiver of a subdivision or site plan requirement. If a special exception or variance is required, the City Planner will assist in scheduling a public hearing with the ZBA. Application forms can be found here
Step 4: Engage the services of a qualified NH land surveyor and possibly engineer who can assist the applicant in meeting the subdivision and site plan review regulations. A NH licensed land surveyor will be required to prepare and stamp the final subdivision plan and/or site plan.
Step 5: Meet with members of the City’s Technical Review (TR) to seek comments from City department heads relative to the application and its conformance with the appropriate city regulations. The Planning Board requests that the applicant and agent satisfactorily address the TR comments in their application before submittal of a formal application.
Step 6: Meet with the city staff at the Planning and Development Department to submit the application. The City Planner will review the application checklist in order to determine if the application is complete. The City Planner will prepare a Plan Review of the application for the Planning Board which the staff will provide to the applicant.
In larger projects, the City may require that a 3rd party engineer review the technical elements (road construction, drainage, utilities, etc.) to ensure the application conforms with the City’s Subdivision Regulations or Site plan Review Regulations. In addition to the 3rd party engineer review, the City may require the engineer to provide construction observation/inspection services. In accordance with City regulations and NH RSA 676:1, (g), the applicant shall provide the City with sufficient funds for the City to conduct an engineering review of application and to inspect the project as it is being constructed.
Step 7: The applicant should begin addressing issues and concerns identified in the Plan Review.
Step 8: The City Planner will review the proposed plan with the Planning Board and staff comments. The applicant or agent will present the plan before the Planning Board. Normally, the Planning Board will vote to accept the plan as complete and then begin discussion of the plan. The applicant will receive comments on the proposal from the Planning Board. The Planning Board will act to either approve the application or continue the hearing on the application to a certain date and time.
Step 9: If required, incorporate comments from the Planning Board into an updated revision of the plan. The agent shall identify each revision to the plan by number and date.
Step 10: Continue to seek comments and assistance from the Planning and Development Department and Planning Board until the proposal receives approval.
Step 11: In many cases, the Planning Board approves an application with conditions. The applicant has the responsibility to ensure that the conditions are met within a reasonable time period. The applicant can request an extension for the time in which to meet all of the conditions of approval. In accordance with City regulations and NH RSA 676:1, (i), the City staff can certify that the conditions have been met. A normal condition of approval will be the submission of an acceptable form of performance guarantee, which can be in the form of cash, an irrevocable letter of credit, or a performance bond. The application is not considered to be approved and cannot be recorded at the Sullivan County Register of Deeds until all conditions of approval have been met.
ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT PROCESS
While it is advisable to go to the ZBA first for the proposal, it is not required. The two processes may occur simultaneously. City staff can assist the applicant in determining the best course of action, but ultimately it is the applicant’s decision.
Step 1: City staff of the City’s Planning and Development Department will assist in reviewing the proposal in general terms in order to determine what action is needed by the ZBA.
Step 2: The City Planner will go over the appropriate application for the proposal and advise what will need to be submitted to the ZBA for hearing.
Step 3: In many cases, the ZBA approves an application the same evening it is heard, but on occasion will ask for additional information and continue the hearing to their next meeting. Most often applications, when approved, are done with conditions. The applicant has the responsibility to ensure that the conditions are met within. If recording at the Sullivan County Registry of Deeds is required, the applicant is responsible for the recording fees, to be paid to the City prior to recording.