Abutter Guide/Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Abutter?
  • Under RSA 672:3 – “Abutter” means any person whose property is adjoins or is directly across the street or stream from the land under consideration by the local Land Use Board.
Why am I receiving a public hearing notice?
  • Abutters are required to receive a public hearing notice by statute. The purpose of the hearing is to educate abutters and the public of the proposal and also for the Land Use Board and the applicant to benefit from the views, opinions, and remarks of the abutters and anyone else who might be affected by the proposal.
What should I expect at the public hearing?
  • At the hearing, the applicant will present plans and explain the proposed project to the Land Use Board and the audience. The Board will ask questions and ask for clarification when needed. Testimony is taken from abutters and other affected parties. Once a hearing is closed to the public, no further public comment will be allowed. Hearings may be continued, if additional information is required, for a Land Use Board to make a final decision on a proposed project.
How often will an abutter get a certified mail notification of a Public Planning Board Meeting?
  • Abutters are notified once in accordance with RSA 676:4 ten (10) days prior to the first public hearing. If a hearing requires a second, third, or subsequent public hearings, an abutter must check the official town postings at (1) Town Hall and (2) on the Town website at www.barrington.nh.gov to find out when the next public hearing will occur. If a plan undergoes a significant design change during the process, the Planning Board may deem it necessary to re-notify the list of abutters by certified mail.
Will a subdivision plan get approved or denied at the first public hearing?
  • A typical subdivision may be reviewed over the course of 2 to 3 public meetings. This permits the Planning Board, consultants, and other Town authorities including the Conservation Commission ample time review the plans, conduct a site walk, involve the Town’s engineering firm to review for zoning and ordinance compliance and hear abutter and general public concerns before taking a final vote. For administrative or simple boundary line changes, the entire process may occur during a single public hearing.
What can I do as an abutter to stop a development from going in?
  • Every landowner has a constitutional right allowing them to develop the land that they own. The Planning Board must work within the specific Federal, State and Town regulations that address growth controls and act accordingly within that law. An abutter has several opportunities during the Public Hearing process to voice concerns about a given subdivision that may alter the final design or decision.
What resources do I have to become more informed on the town, state and federal regulations?
  • There is a wealth of information available online regarding local, state, and federal agencies. In addition to the Town’s website, start with the Office of State Planning page at www.nh.gov/osp and their library at www.state.nh.us/osp/library/start.html and review the content there.
When does the public get to voice their position on a subdivision plan?
  • Public input occurs during Public Hearings for all land use boards including the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment, and during the site walks as noted above. Each respective land use board may review the proposed plan over the course of several Public Hearings. If you are unable to attend a Public Hearing, consider writing a letter to the Town Planner prior to the meeting. The board chair will either read or reference your letter into the record.
As an abutter, what kind of information is the Planning Board interested in hearing about?
  • As an abutter, the Planning Board is interested in hearing your favorable or opposing views, alternative plan options, and questions on issues with respect to the property under development. Often the best alternative plans come from abutters who understand the area.
What process does the Planning Board use during the hearing?
  • Review the Barrington Zoning Ordinance and Regulations available online at: www.barrington.nh.gov. The applicant must first develop a set of plans in accordance with Town, State and Federal laws. Upon completion of a COMPLETE set of plans, the applicant files an application to be placed on the Planning Board agenda.  The full process is defined in the applicable regulations.  
Are there any recommendations you could provide me on how to effectively present my position?
  • Preparation
    • Be prepared…this ensures important issues are not overlooked or forgotten during the meeting when you are under pressure and time is limited.
    • After receiving your certified notification as an abutter, seek out information regarding the project from the Planning Department
    • Develop a list of questions and points that you would like to make prior to the meeting
    • Review the local ordinances, zoning and subdivision regulations prior to the meeting.  By reviewing them, they often give you valuable insights to questions you need to ask and have clarified and may also often answer other questions you had.  The zoning regulations and ordinances are all available online, and in searchable format.
    • Talk to your neighbors and ensure they are informed and get involved
    • If you plan to cite references, documents, books or other tangible things, be prepared with backup documentation or references that would allow another person to investigate and verify
    • If your unable to attend a meeting and you have a position to express, write a letter to the Planning Board Chairman, c/o Planning Director, Town Hall, 6 Main Street, Pelham NH 03076.  Your letter will be read into the record during the meeting.
  • Documentation
    • Consider writing a letter expressing your position on an issue to the Planning Board Chair, and request that your letter be included in the “Board Member Meeting Preparation Package” sent to each board member 5 days in advance of the meeting.
    • Consider taking pictures that show problem areas or areas of concern.  Please write the date the photo was taken on the picture and include a description of what the picture shows.  Some of the most effective photos show:
      • drainage problems, specifically flooding after heavy rains, or water channels, or poorly drained areas.
      • old growth trees or conservation areas.
      • topology areas with steep slopes that represent where a structure might be placed causing excessive clearing or may have to be filled.
    • Internet research – If you do any web-based research, provide the URL links (in writing) and print out the page(s) of interest.
    • Book or hard copy references – make copies and distribute at the meeting to board members.
    • Video – If a video would help, make a very short video.
    • Audio – If noise has been a problem, try audio taping a few seconds for demonstration purposes.
  • Respect
    • Respect others opinion and/or conclusions drawn based on their perspective.   It often differs from the opinions and conclusions you have drawn.  Remember your goal is to ensure the board understands your position and has as much information as possible on a topic, enabling them to make an informed decision. 
  • Examples
    • Citing specific examples help illustrate to the board and other residents on what you would like or not like to happen.  For example, “On Signature Drive, the developer used hay bails and silk netting to control erosion.  I would like to see similar erosion control techniques used in this development.”
  • Presenting During Public Hearings
    • Summarize your points, and get answers to any outstanding questions that have not yet been answered. 
    • Be brief.
    • If you were able to submit advance copies of your position, refer to it and summarize the content of what you sent.
    • Respect others opinions and positions.  Your goal it to clearly communicate to the board (not others at the hearing) what your position is and why.
​​Regarding the possibility of blasting during construction, what warranties or guarantees does the Town of Barrington provide?
  • The Town of Barrington does not provide any warranties or guarantees between a developer and a residential homeowner. A developer must comply with all Federal, State and Local laws, be fully insured, and must use a state licensed explosives (blasting) firm. The explosives firm will conduct an inventory of effected properties within the blasting zone, and if deemed necessary, work with individual property owners to document all conditions prior to blasting. Typically, house foundations, well quality, well quantity, window conditions, pools, or other similar structures are photographed, documented and/or tested. If you are an abutter to an approved development where blasting will occur, of if you live near enough that you have a concern, you should contact the developer directly and request that your property be included in the list of structures to be documented prior to blasting. Should any damage occur, the burden of proof is on the homeowner to show that the damage occurred as a direct result of the development blasting. With today’s blasting technologies, any post blast structural damage to existing buildings is rare.
Will I be notified of the decision?
  • Copies of the notice of decision are not sent to abutters.  Decisions are posted on the Town's website and you may request a copy of any decision from the Land Use Office.
How can I appeal a decision?
  • Appeals are normally made to the Zoning Board of Adjustment within 30 days of a Land Use Board decision. Additional information on the appeal process can be located through the Land Use Office.