Petitioned Zoning Amendments -
For Rules governing Petitioned Zoning Discussions and Amendments at Town Meeting click here.
According to NH law, amendments to existing ordinances may be proposed by the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen or by petition of 25 or more registered voters.
RSA 675:4 governs Petitioned Zoning Amendments. Petitioned zoning amendments shall be submitted to the Selectmen who shall then submit them to the Planning Board "in a timely manner". The Planning Board must hold a public hearing on any petitioned zoning amendment and then submit the petitioned amendment to the town clerk for inclusion on the official ballot.
Dates for Submission to Selectmen - RSA 675:4 states that a petition to amend a zoning ordinance shall be submitted to the Board of Selectmen between 120 days and 90 days prior to the annual town meeting.
Notice Requirement - RSA 675:4 states that notice for the time and place of the public hearing for a petitioned zoning amendment shall be the same as that provided in RSA 675:7 as follows:
Notice of the Planning Board public hearing must be posted in two places and published in a locally circulated newspaper. There must be 10 days of notice, not including the day of posting or the day of the public hearing.
Planning Board Hearing Date - The Planning Board may receive proposals from the Board of Selectmen or voters. RSA 675:4 states that the Planning Board at its first regular meeting following the petition period shall set the date of the public hearing for each petitioned amendment which is received and shall hold a public hearing on each petitioned amendment.
The Planning Board may only make textual or editorial revisions to these drafts such that the final draft will consist of a properly worded warrant article that expresses the intent of the party that submitted the initial proposal.
The Planning Board must indicate whether it approves or disapproves of any proposal submitted by another party. Finally, the board must submit the final draft to the clerk no later than the fifth Tuesday before the annual meeting where the matter is to be voted on.
Ballot Question - The town clerk must prepare the ballot for the zoning question. The ballot for a petitioned zoning amendment may be either the same one on which the names of candidates for town office appear, or a separate ballot. The ballot should include a notation of whether the Planning Board approves or disapproves.
Discussion at Town Meeting Not Permitted - Zoning amendments cannot be debated and amended on the floor of the town meeting.
Effective Date of Amendment - A petitioned amendment is treated in the same manner as an amendment proposed by the Planning Board. Therefore, if approved at Town Meeting, the effective date is the date that the public notice appeared for the Planning Board Public Hearing on the amendment.
Summary - From RSA 675:4
- Petitioned Amendment with 25 signatures submitted to Selectmen - between 120 to 90 days prior to Town Meeting.
- Selectmen send to Planning Board in timely manner
- First Planning Board meeting following petition period - Planning Board must set date of Public Hearing
- Posting of Notice of Public Hearing -10 days excluding posting date and hearing date (RSA 675:7)
- Public Hearing held
- Final Copy of Warrant Article sent to Town Clerk - no later than 5th Tuesday before Town Meeting
- Town Clerk shall include each question on the ballot, in same manner as provided in RSA 675:4 paragraph III and in RSA 675:3, VII.
The above information is an abridged version of two documents created by the NH Municipal Association, Local Government Center, PO Box 617, Concord NH 03302 - Zoning Ordinance Changes and Petitioned Warrant Articles. Additional information can be found on their website.
Zoning Protest Petitions
RSA 675:5 gives details on how to file a protest petition regarding zoning regulations. Such petition must be filed with the Selectmen at least 7 days prior to Town Meeting. The petition must be signed by the owners of 20 percent of the area of the lots included in any proposed change. See RSA 675:5 for more details.