Local governments have the authority to enact zoning regulations to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of their communities, among other purposes. Zoning is primarily enacted to control the use of land and the density of those uses, as deemed appropriate for the community. Zoning regulations can also protect important natural areas and cultural resources such as historic landmarks or districts, wetlands, floodplains, groundwater, wildlife habitats, and scenic areas. For example, many NH communities have Conservation Overlay Districts in their zoning ordinances for protection of key natural resources such as aquifers and wetlands. When reviewing zoning, it is important to be mindful of the legal requirement to have a basis for zoning ordinances in the master plan, as required by RSA 674:18.
In 1983, New Hampshire law authorized towns and cities to use innovative land use controls to deal with complex planning issues. This includes environmental characteristics zoning, such as Steep Slopes and Ridgeline Protection, Wildlife Habitat, Groundwater and Surface Water Resources and Flood Hazard Areas. Review the 2008 document Innovative Land Use Planning Techniques: A Handbook for Sustainable Development for more information.
Parcel-based tax map information is also helpful when reviewed together with the other NRI maps. Parcel information can provide an additional layer of interpretation, showing areas where there is potential to protect natural resources using voluntary land conservation, as well as identifying highly developed areas where resources may be already be compromised.
Basic NRI - What to Include:
Digital zoning maps: Many NH communities have had their zoning maps digitized for use in GIS. If the zoning maps aren’t digitized, find out if the municipality plans to do so. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to digitize zoning boundaries.An overlay map of current zoning will give a general indication of land use as it relates to the natural resource base. For example, an overlay map of zoning might show that portions of the community’s groundwater supply are zoned to allow for conflicting land uses, such as allowing gas stations, petroleum bulk storage, or salt storage over important aquifers. See examples of of local groundwater/aquifer protection zoning ordinances on NH DES's website.
Digital tax parcel data: Most NH communities have had their tax maps digitized and this information is available as a data layer in GRANIT. This data layer does not provide any parcel identification. Its simply shows the pattern of development across the landscape, based on political boundaries. If you need more detailed information, check with your town/city office for up-to-date parcel data. Keep in mind that tax parcel information frequently changes and current maps aren’t always up to date. Tax map information can be printed on a transparent overlay that can overlaid onto the natural resources maps. Alternatively, tax parcel data can be displayed on a separate map together with conservation lands data (see Sample NRI Maps). Zoning information could be overlaid together with the tax parcel data.
Basic NRI Maps:
See Zoning and Tax Base Map for Epping (includes conservation parcels) (Map to come)
See WIldlife Habitat Land Cover Map for Epping with tax parcel overlay (Map to come)