The Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission is a non-profit organization comprised of municipalities. CNHRPC is staffed by professional planners. One of nine regional planning commissions in New Hampshire, it is comprised of 20 communities in and around Concord. Communities may pay a membership fee, based on population, to access a variety of land use, environmental, transportation, economic development, municipal management, and other planning services. CNHRPC also receives financial support from NHDOT, NHOEP, and NHDES, as well as seeking grants from governmental and nonprofit organizations.
In the Beginning: Based on legislation adopted in 1969 under RSA 36:45-53 as well as organizational meetings held with Allenstown, Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Henniker, Hopkinton, and Pembroke, these municipalities formed the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission in March 1970. Mary Louise Hancock, then State Planning Director, inspired the effort at one of the organizational meetings with her statement, “Boundaries between the communities are melting, enormous growth is taking place, and time is critical for the towns to cope with the growing problems facing the area.” As one of the nine regional planning commissions in the State, the CNHRPC was charged with the duties to:
- prepare a coordinated plan for the communities in the Central New Hampshire Region;
- support the most appropriate use of the land and its resources;
- mediate transportation needs and constraints;
- serve as an advisory group to local land use boards; and
- create a regional housing needs assessment every five years
Throughout the 1970s, the Commission produced a number of planning studies which still provide the basis for many town and regional plans. In the early years, the State funded regional planning. As federal funding grew, the State gradually withdrew financial support. However, federal funding declined and finally ceased in 1981. In 1983, the Commission began a reduction of operations because of financial constraints, eventually closing its doors in early 1984. After being dormant for almost two years, CNHRPC underwent an extensive reorganization by dedicated local officials who held a firm belief in the purposes of regional planning. In December of 1985, representatives from eleven communities met at the Warner Town Hall. After many meetings in 1986, eleven towns appropriated dues in March; bylaws, a work program, and a budget were adopted; state grants were secured; office space was obtained; and by August an executive director was hired to restart the staff function of the Commission in September 1986.
Present Day: Twenty municipalities are under the jurisdiction of the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission. Based upon population, each municipality is allowed to appoint two individuals as Commissioners to the CNHRPC with the exception of Concord, which appoints four. Commissioners are volunteers who work diligently on the Full Commission (the entire group of Commissioners who meet four or five times per year), and on appointment or election to the Executive Committee, who meet monthly to deal with administrative issues. On a fiscal year basis, CNHRPC Commissioners, with assistance from staff, determine priorities from local interests and issues and combine the findings into an annual Work Program with funding from a variety of sources. When special projects arise, CNHRPC incorporates the additions into the annual Work Program and secures the funding necessary to perform the new tasks.