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March 15, 2013

Pelham gets $20K planning grant

PELHAM — The town is getting a $20,000 community planning grant from the state.

The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority announced the grant earlier this week. Pelham is one of more than 20 communities receiving a combined $500,000 in aid.

Planning Director Jeff Gowan, in his application to the state, said the grant would help the town develop land use regulations the Planning Board wants to present to voters next year.

Those would stem from the community’s effort to enable more mixed-use commercial development.

“More user-friendly regulations will also promote economic development within Pelham’s underdeveloped commercial and industrial districts,” Gowan wrote in the application.

Pelham needs to prepare for the future, Gowan told the agency.

“When economic and business conditions are right, it will be imperative to have thoughtful, practical regulations in place to help direct forthcoming development projects,” he said.

The grant proposal had the support of key boards concerned with community development, including selectmen, Planning Board, Conservation Commission and the Economic Development Committee.

Gowan told the agency the public would be involved as reforms take shape.

He said planning staff and the Planning Board intend to hold public forums to hear from residents, businesses and other stakeholders as the process unfolds.

In announcing the grants, New Hampshire Housing said the program helps towns “improve their land use regulations and achieve community development goals.”

“The towns and cities selected as our grant recipients have innovative ideas about how to create vibrant communities that will grow and succeed,” New Hampshire Housing executive director Dean Christon said.

Ben Frost, public affairs director for New Hampshire Housing, said Gowan is meeting with agency officials to further define the scope of the project.

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