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Proposed Open Space Conservation Ordinance Changes

1.  Purpose:  To further the recommendations of the Chichester Master Plan by encouraging flexibility in the development of land in order to (1) create permanently protected open space, (2) preserve and minimize negative impacts on environmental resources such as those identified in the current Chichester Natural Resources Inventory, (3) protect water quality and quantity, (4) enhance the quality of life by providing for passive recreational space, (5) provide for public recreational facilities, where appropriate, (6) provide greater flexibility and efficiency in road design, and (7) discourage sprawling, land-consuming forms of development.

2.  Authority:  The provisions of Open Space Conservation Development are adopted as an innovative land use control as authorized by RSA 674:21.

3.  Definitions:

        "Common area" means land owned by all individual homeowners within the
        development, as tenants-in-common.

        "Elderly housing" means dwelling units that are owned and occupied solely by
        persons at least fifty five years of age.

        "Homeowner's association" means an organization of property or unit owners
        duly incorporated under New Hampshire law for the purpose of managing and
        maintaining common areas.

        "Open space" means land in open space conservation developments that is
        permanently preserved from future development.

4.  General Requirements:

        a.      Open space conservation developments shall comply with all provisions of
                this Ordinance and the Chichester Subdivision Regulations.  If any
                conflicts arise, the provisions of this Ordinance shall apply.

        b.      Open space conservation developments, including those containing elderly
                housing, are allowed in all zoning districts.

5.  Specific Requirements:

        a.      Minimum Tract Size.  Open space conservation developments shall
                contain at least twenty contiguous acres.

        b.      Permitted Residential Uses.  Open space conservation developments shall
                contain only single family residential dwellings, however lots in open
                space conservation developments that are permanently deeded for elderly
                housing may contain two-family dwellings.  Accessory uses customarily
                incidental to residential uses such as garages and recreational facilities
                shall also be permitted.

        c.      Density.  The number of lots permitted in an open space conservation
                development shall be the sum of:

                1.      the number of acres of Residential soils divided by 1.8, plus

                2.      the number of acres of Open Space Conservation Steeplands soils
                        and Rural-Agricultural soils divided by 4.5.

        d.      Lot Size.  Minimum lot size is three-quarter acre, except that minimum lot
                size for lots in open space conservation developments that are permanently
                deeded for elderly housing is one-half acre.

        e.      Frontage.  Residential lots shall have at least one hundred feet of roadway
                frontage, except that cul-de-sac lots may have 50 feet of roadway
                frontage so long as the lot width one hundred feet from the roadway is at
                least one hundred feet.

        f.      Buffers.  Open space conservation developments shall provide a buffer of
                at least one hundred feet from pre-existing roadways and buildings.  The
                buffer shall consist solely of open space.  The Planning Board shall
                determine the composition of the buffer, in order to    preserve rural
                character along existing roadways.

        g.      Setbacks.  All structures shall be at least thirty feet from the edge of the
                travel surface of a roadway, and at least fifteen feet from the  side and rear
                lot property lines.

        h.      Driveways.  Common driveways providing access to two residential lots
                shall be allowed.

        i.      Roads.  Open space conservation developments may contain either public
                or private roadways.  Width and right-of-way requirements of roadways
                may be reduced if approved by the Planning Board, after review by the
                Town Engineer.

        j.      Open Space.  Open Space associated with open space conservation
                developments shall be permanently preserved from future development
                through the deeding of development rights to the Town of Chichester, or
                through conservation easements.

        k.      Common Ownership Limitation.   Open space conservation developments
                of less than ten dwelling units shall not have any form of common
                ownership of common area or open space.

6.  Open Space:

        a.      All land used in the density calculation that is not used for residential
                development, shall be preserved as open space.

b.      Open space shall be owned by one or a combination of the following:

1.      A developer, so long as the developer holds, maintains, and manages the open space until all open space improvements are complete, then transfers the ownership, management, and maintenance of the open space to one of the below,

2.      An individual land owner,

3.      A homeowners association, providing all the requirements in Section 5.k. and Section 7 are met,

4.      A conservation trust or private nonprofit organization such as the Audubon Society, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the Five Rivers Conservation Trust, and

5.      The Town of Chichester, which shall maintain the land as open space for the benefit of the Chichester’s general public.

c.      The following open space uses are allowed, subject to the review and approval of the Planning Board:

1.      outdoor recreational facilities such as recreational fields, golf courses, parks, trails, riding stables, tennis courts, skating rinks, and wildlife viewing areas (motorized wheeled-vehicle recreational facilities are not allowed in open space), and

2.      forestry and/or other agricultural uses.

7.      Homeowners Associations:
a.      Open space conservation developments of ten or more dwelling units that include any form of common ownership shall have a homeowners association.

b.      All proposed association articles and by-laws must be approved in writing by the State of New Hampshire (if applicable) and by the Planning Board, prior to Planning Board final approval.

c.      The association shall be obligated to maintain any associated open space, common areas, private roadways and private utilities.

d.      The association by-laws shall require the association to charge dues or levy assessments against the property owners in the open space conservation development, in order to cover the following, if applicable:  expenses for open space, common areas, private roadways, and private utilities, including but not limited to tax liabilities, maintenance, improvements, etc.

e.      Membership in the homeowners association shall be mandatory for all property owners in the open space conservation development, and shall be required by the association by-laws and in every deed issued to a property owner in the open space conservation development.

f.      The association shall not be dissolved, nor shall the association dispose of any open space, common area, or private roadways or utilities, by sale or otherwise, without written consent of the Chichester Board of Selectmen.

g.      The association by-laws shall recognize the right of the Town of Chichester to ensure the maintenance of the open space, common areas, and private roadways and utilities, as follows:

1.      In the event that the association or the homeowners shall, for any
        reason, fail to maintain the open space, common areas, or private
        roadways or utilities, the Selectmen shall serve written notice upon
        the association or the property owners in the open space
        conservation development, setting forth the deficiencies noted.

2.      Such notice shall include a demand that the noticed deficiencies be
        cured within the time determined by the Selectmen, and that a
        statement of intent to comply and a date of compliance be filed
        with the Selectmen within thirty days of such notice.

3.      If the association or property owners fail to cure the noted
        deficiencies within the time determined by the Selectmen:

i.      the association and each of the property owners shall be liable for the fines and penalties provided for in RSA 676:17 et. seq. in addition to all other legal and equitable remedies,

ii.     the Selectmen may arrange to have the deficiencies cured at the expense of the property owners, and may record liens on each individual property until the property owner pays that property's pro-rata cost of the incurred expenses, including whatever fines and/or penalties are assessed, if any.

8.      Document Review:

a.      All agreements, easements, covenants, deed restrictions, articles of incorporation, by-laws, and organizational provisions for any of the above forms of ownership, management and maintenance of open space shall be subject to the review and approval of the Planning Board prior to final approval of the open space conservation development.

b.      At the discretion of the Planning Board, the Town attorney, at the applicant's expense, shall review any of the above-listed documents.

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