438 Dubuque Street
Manchester, NH 03102
Phone: 603-669-4664
Fax: 603-669-4350
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What is the SNHPC?

The SNHPC region includes the City of Manchester and the towns of Auburn, Bedford, Candia, Chester, Deerfield, Derry, Francestown, Goffstown, Hooksett, Londonderry, New Boston, Weare and Windham. The region encompasses portions of Hillsborough, Merrimack and Rockingham counties. Executive Order Number Fifteen, issued by former Governor Walter Peterson, delineated the SNHPC region. The main functions of the SNHPC are to increase communication; promote intergovernmental cooperation and coordination between planning boards and local officials; promote coordinated development of the region; prepare and adopt regional plans, including policies and strategies for the region; and perform other acts or functions as deemed appropriate to fulfill its duties.

By-Laws of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission  

Why was the SNHPC established?

In the early 1960s, representatives from six communities (Manchester, Auburn, Bedford, Goffstown, Hooksett, and Londonderry) recognized the need for, and the value of, comprehensive transportation and land use planning. That cooperative venture, assisted by the state and federal governments, led the six communities to formally organize the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission in August, 1966 under the provisions of New Hampshire RSA, Chapter 36, as a means of establishing an on-going planning process. Since that time, the remaining communities of Candia, Chester, Deerfield, Derry, New Boston, and Weare have joined the Commission. In 2013, the Town of Windham became a member, and in 2014 Francestown became a member of the SNHPC.

Who governs the Commission?

A board of 49 local representatives, called the Board of Commissioners, who represent the 14 member-communities in the region, governs the SNHPC. The Commissioners are appointed by the governing bodies of the member municipalities upon the recommendation of their respective planning boards, as outlined in RSA 36:46. An Executive Committee, consisting of 15 commissioners, is elected from the membership of the full Board of Commissioners to provide overall policy direction and guidance, and to administer the Commissioners financial and operational affairs. An Executive Director is appointed by the Commission to manage and supervise the day-to-day operations of the Commission and its staff under the general direction provided by the Executive Committee and the Board of Commissioners.

Role of federal and state agencies in Commission affairs

Certain federal and state agencies provide the Commission with financial resources to help support programs that address regional needs and priorities, many of which are established by the Commission. Among the agencies providing funding assistance to the Commission are the United States Department of Transportation, administered by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation; the United States Environmental Protection Agency, administered by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services; the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning; and the New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Management.

Title VI Assurances (Dec. 2017)


Services offered to the Communities

Typical examples of basic services commonly provided to the dues-paying member municipalities are as follows:

  • Provide technical assistance with the preparation of minor amendments to zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, site plan review regulations, etc.
  • Prepare periodic updates of municipal zoning maps.
  • Prepare periodic updates of municipal base maps.
  • Provide copies, in reasonable quantities, of base maps and aerial photo prints for the use of the municipality.
  • Prepare applications, on a first-come, first-served basis, for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, which are administered by the Community Development Finance Authority.
  • Provide technical assistance with problem subdivision and site plan proposals.
  • Prepare code and ordinance amendments to meet the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program, and attend public hearings to explain the program and answer questions. 
  • Prepare legal notices and warrant articles pertaining to zoning ordinance and subdivision regulation amendments.
  • Attend planning board and/or board of selectmen meetings, upon request, to provide assistance in the resolution of a specific problem(s).
  • Provide information to local officials on the availability of various state and federal aid programs of benefit to municipalities.
  • Sponsor the annual Municipal Law Lecture Series and distribute announcements of planning and administrative workshops conducted by others.
  • Provide copies of Commission reports, statistical data, and graphic resources for municipal use.
  • Provide assistance in the interpretation of local zoning ordinances.
  • Provide updates on, and staff interpretations of, planning and land use regulations.
  • Prepare and distribute "how to" manuals and materials.
  • Make the SNHPC library accessible to the local municipalities.
  • Provide traffic counts at locations requested by local officials.
  • Provide copies of GIS maps with various data layers as they become available.
  • Conduct annual training workshops for planning board and zoning board of adjustment members.

SNHPC serves as an MPO

The 1973 Federal Highway Act required that federal highway construction funds could only be spent on those urbanized areas that had a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) in place and conducted transportation planning on a cooperative, comprehensive and continuous fashion. Through the Metropolitan Manchester Planning Study (MMPS), conducted in the 1960s, local municipalities, state and federal agencies gained valuable experience in working cooperatively in the transportation planning process. The SNHPC, which was an outgrowth of the MMPS, was consequently considered the logical choice for designation as the metropolitan planning organization for the Manchester area. Governor Meldrim Thomson made this designation on December 31, 1973, thereby enabling the Commission to expend certain transportation planning funds for approved transportation planning purposes in this area.  With the 1991 adoption of the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), the SNHPC maintained its designation as an MPO, but the geographic area for transportation planning and programming responsibilities was expanded to include all 14 communities within the Commission's current jurisdiction.

How does the MPO designation affect the SNHPC region?

The MPO designation expands the Commission's role in many different ways. Two major responsibilities have been assigned to the Commission through federal transportation legislation and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.  The Commission has the responsibility of performing air quality conformity analyses and providing assistance to the NHDOT in making the determination that plans and projects are in conformance with the State Implementation Plan (SIP). The SIP is the State of New Hampshire's action plan for reducing emissions over a specified time period. In order for the Commission to assess the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality, it must use the output from the travel demand forecasting model.

Who directs the MPO process?

The Board of Commissioners of the SNHPC, with state and federal transportation officials, provide the overall direction for the transportation planning process. To this end, the policy board of the MPO meets on an as-needed basis in conjunction with the Commission's regular monthly meeting.

What are the primary functions of the MPO? As defined by federal and state transportation regulations, the primary functions of the MPO are to:

  • Establish the goals, objectives and policies governing transportation planning in the region.
  • Approve an annual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) and budget.
  • Direct the preparation and adoption of long and short-range strategies of the Transportation Plan.
  • Recommend projects for implementation through the adoption of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
  • Perform the air quality conformity determination for the Transportation Improvement Program.


Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission 45th Anniversary Video

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