Jackson Master Plan
The Planning Board of the Town of Jackson, New Hampshire, in accordance with the provisions of NH Revised Statutes Annotated, Chapter 675:6, does hereby adopt the Jackson Master Plan. The Planning Board designates said Master Plan as the planning guideline to be consulted and followed in the performance of their duties. Furthermore, the Planning Board does agree to implement to the best of their ability the recommendations and objectives contained within this Pan for the coordinated and harmonious development of the Town of Jackson, New Hampshire.
Signed by Willis Kelley, Brooks Dodge, Richard A. Bennett, Stephen Weeder, Robert Dupuis, Betsey Harding, Sarah Kimball, and Ira I. Lynn, August 14, 2003
Many residents in Jackson have been involved in the preparation of this Master Plan. The following individuals are hereby acknowledged for providing assistance and guidance in the development of the Jackson Master Plan. Their work is greatly appreciated. The Planning Board extends its thanks to Sarah Kimball for coordinating and editing this edition of the Jackson Master Plan.
J. Brooks Dodge III
The Planning Board has endeavored to make this Master Plan and Background Studies as accurate as possible. Should there be any errors, omissions or oversights in the document, the Planning Board apologizes for them and will try to correct them in the next edition.
Master Plan for the Town of Jackson
The primary purpose of this Master Plan is to provide direction for the Planning Board in the performance of its duties (RSA 674:2). Master plans involve the research, time, and effort of many citizens, but often they are set aside following their adoption. In Jackson, this Master Plan will be a living document that describes direction for the community.
The following goals, policies, and objectives form a work plan to assist local decision makers in a variety of settings. The Town of Jackson Master Plan will provide:
· the basis for town policies and regulations governing development and use of the land within the Town of Jackson,
· direction to the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Conservation Commission and landowners in local regulatory review and decision-making, and
· guidance to the Board of Selectmen concerning budgetary and capital facility planning.
These goals, policies, and objectives result from a careful review of (1) the Background Studies for the 2003 Master Plan, (2) the Wildcat River Conservation Plan, (3) the Fall 2001 Community Survey, and (4) the April 2002 Jackson Community ’02 meeting. In this step of the planning process, the aspirations and needs of the town are tempered with the realities of limited resources plus a variety of potentially conflicting sentiments, including the wish to keep regulations simple and not cumbersome, a desire to keep the town looking as it traditionally has, a need to
maintain the vitality of the local economy, which is largely based on tourism, and the expectation that Jackson will continue to be a resort community.
Vision Statement and Goals
Jackson’s mountains, hillsides, woodlands, streams, wetlands, scenic views and special resource areas are very important elements to the quality of life in Jackson for both residents and tourists.
In addition, Jackson’s location at one edge of the White Mountain National Forest makes it a prime target for growth. Future development in Jackson shall be regulated by the town’s policies and ordinances which must promote the protection of natural resources and preservation of the essential town character, while providing for the maintenance of a vital economy. Though tourism is important to the local economy, Jackson must be prepared to take actions that will enhance the broader economic health of the community.
Overall LAND USE AND DEVELOPMENT Goal: Maintain and enhance the economic health of the town and provide adequate social and municipal services for the townspeople, in a manner consistent with preserving the rural village character of the town, while managing land use and regulating development to ensure wise stewardship of the town’s natural resources.
REGULATORY GOAL: Enforce land use regulations reasonably and uniformly.
Policy: The permitting process necessary for development will require careful review and strict adherence to existing regulations.
Objective: Continue to require building permits to be issued by Selectmen.
Objective: Continue to require subdivision review by the Planning Board prior to approvals for any subdivisions.
Policy: Efforts will be made to decrease the non-conformity of existing land uses and structures, whenever the opportunity arises.
Objective: Work with owners of non-conforming structures and uses to encourage compliance with current regulations.
Objective: Require adherence to existing regulations if changes are proposed in non-conforming uses or structures.
NATURAL RESOURCES GOAL: Protect and conserve Jackson’s natural resource areas including hills, woodlands, scenic vistas, valuable wildlife habitat, streams, wetlands, floodplains, aquifer recharge areas, sensitive riparian areas, and the night sky.
Policy: Development within the town of Jackson shall not adversely affect the natural resources of the town.
Objective: Establish and enforce land use regulations that limit development to areas where soils, slopes, and hydrological conditions allow such development.
Objective: Establish and enforce land use regulations that require that new development be sited in ways that minimize the impact on open space and viewsheds.
Policy: Unique, sensitive, ecologically valuable or potentially threatened natural areas shall be protected.
Objective: Identify unique, sensitive, and ecologically valuable areas to determine what areas are deserving of protection.
Objective: Develop a plan to facilitate protection of selected lands though acquisition by the town or by an appropriate conservation organization, using available methods such as donation, purchase, or establishment of conservation or scenic easements. Identify potential local, state or federal funding mechanisms.
Objective: Pursue the possibility of participation in the state’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.
Objective: Identify and evaluate the feasibility of alternative methods of land protection such as transfer of development rights, housing bonuses, public-private partnerships, etc.
Policy: Conservation of lands important to Jackson’s character shall be encouraged.
Objective: Explore town, state, federal, and grant funding for conservation and preservation.
Policy: The integrity of the soils of Jackson shall be protected and the demands that human activities place on the soils shall not exceed the capabilities of the soils to sustain those activities.
Objective: Continue to enforce the minimum lot size based on soil type provisions of the zoning ordinance. Require the use of the High Intensity Soil Survey for site specific planning, and convert to site-specific soil-mapping standards when the Ad Hoc Committee for Soil Based Lot Size has generated the lot size by soil type model regulations based on recent advances in soil science.
Objective: Review and amend the zoning ordinance as necessary to accommodate improvements in the understanding of the definition and capabilities of the soil types in Jackson.
Objective: Institute and enforce any land use regulations necessary to protect areas with sensitive soils from the adverse effects of development or other soil-disturbing activities.
Objective: Require developers, loggers and others involved in soil-disturbing activities to adhere to the Best Management Practices (such as those established by state and federal environmental agencies) available to minimize erosion and other irreparable soil damage.
Policy: The high quality of local water resources shall be preserved and local land uses that might cause water quality degradation shall be prohibited.
Objective: Review the River Conservation District and floodplain management regulations periodically and amend if necessary to maintain optimum protection of water quality.
Objective: Allow only compatible land uses in riparian and floodplain areas.
Objective: Enforce measures to prevent the degradation of surface water quality from erosion caused by land-disturbing activities.
Objective: Identify valuable wetland and aquifer recharge areas in Jackson and develop wetland and aquifer protection regulations.
Objective: Prevent the degradation of wetlands and aquifers by allowing only compatible land uses within the wetland and aquifer influence areas.
Objective: Develop regulations to protect groundwater from septic effluent, leaky underground storage tanks and other potential pollution sources.
Objective: Encourage proper maintenance of septic systems including regular pumping to prevent groundwater contamination.
Objective: Review each development proposal to determine its impact on aquifers, wetlands, and other natural water features and how best to protect them.
Objective: Encourage cooperation between the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission in the review and processing of dredge and fill permits for the Town of Jackson.
Objective: Support the provisions of the Wildcat River Conservation Plan (on file at the Jackson Town Office).
Objective: Participate in the Volunteer River Assessment Program to monitor water quality in the town’s surface waters.
Policy: The hillsides and ridgelines in Jackson should be protected from inappropriate development that threatens the integrity of the natural resources.
Objective: Develop a steep slope and hillside development ordinance to ensure maximum possible protection of both natural resources and views.
Policy: Scenic vistas should be preserved and protected for the present and future enjoyment of residents and travelers alike.
Objective: Incorporate into land use regulations provisions that require consideration of strategies such as landscape screening and placement of structures to complement topography, in order to minimize the negative impacts of development on scenic vistas.
Objective: Inventory Jackson’s scenic vistas and viewpoints and research methods of protection of views from roadways within Jackson.
Objective: Develop a vista and viewshed protection ordinance.
Policy: Views of the night sky shall not be degraded by light pollution.
Objective: Develop and enforce regulations to minimize light pollution that interferes with the visibility of the natural night sky.
VILLAGE CHARACTER GOAL: Preserve and protect Jackson’s rural atmosphere and character of the central village.
Policy: The central village core of Jackson shall be maintained without the introduction of sprawl and strip development.
Objective: Review the present boundaries of the Village District and develop regulations to limit the scope of development along Route 16.
Objective: Retain the Village appearance by encouraging development and redevelopment within the Village to be kept within the style and scale of the greatest number of nearby buildings.
Objective: Develop a long-range plan for the use of town-owned property to best meet the needs of the town.
Objective: Maintain the mix of residential and commercial structures currently found in the Village.
Objective: Review the existing parking facilities in the village area and require commercial establishments to provide adequate parking facilities as stipulated in the zoning ordinance.
Objective: Require commercial development to place parking areas beside or behind buildings, not between buildings and the street, to maintain a small-town atmosphere.
Policy: The rural atmosphere and appearance of the town of Jackson shall be maintained.
Objective: Regulate the location, style, size, and lighting of commercial signage throughout the town.
Objective: Encourage the use of underground utilities wherever feasible.
Objective: Revisit the issue of requiring planning board review of multi-unit residential and commercial structures to ensure that the development will comply with all regulations and will not have adverse impacts on the town.
Objective: Support historic designation of selected structures, recognizing that funding for structural repairs is available when the designation is in place.
Objective: Prevent regulations that unreasonably restrict use of historic structures; encourage preservation of historic structures.
ECONOMY GOAL: Support the present tourist-based economy while encouraging diversification to maintain economic health through the development of low-impact, small-scale businesses.
Policy: Diversification of the economy in a manner compatible with Jackson’s identification as both a resort community and a traditional New Hampshire village shall be encouraged.
Objective: Support the marketing efforts of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce and existing tourism businesses.
Objective: Encourage the establishment of compatible home-based businesses in appropriate locations.
Objective: Support and encourage the development of a high-speed Internet connection to Jackson.
Objective: Strengthen resource-based enterprises (e.g., farming, forestry, and skiing) through both protecting the resource base, and fostering the ability to properly market products and services.
Policy: Growth and development that meets the needs of the community shall be allowed as long as it does not exceed the capacity of the town to provide supporting facilities and services.
Objective: Research the feasibility of an impact fee ordinance that would require projects necessitating expanded municipal infrastructure to pay for their share of infrastructure improvements.
Objective: Determine ten-year anticipated costs for necessary town building, equipment and infrastructure upgrades.
Objective: Develop a capital improvements program.
MUNICIPAL SERVICES GOAL: The town of Jackson shall provide the necessary municipal services to ensure the health and safety of Jackson residents and visitors.
Policy: Adequate support shall be given to all town departments to enable them to provide for the safety of all in the town of Jackson.
Objective: Provide adequate space for the town departments to conduct business and perform their responsibilities.
Objective: Develop a sound fiscal policy to sustain the necessary manpower, replace outdated equipment, and maintain the equipment necessary for the town’s needs.
Objective: Evaluate the facility needs of the different town departments and develop a long-range program for meeting those needs.
Objective: Encourage training and professional improvement for all town employees.
Policy: The statewide efforts to establish an enhanced 911 emergency communication system shall be supported to ensure prompt delivery of emergency services to the townspeople when needed.
Objective: Carry out the work at the town level necessary to implement the enhanced 911 system.
Policy: Town lands shall be utilized in such a way as to accommodate the known and anticipated needs of the community.
Objective: Inventory the town-owned lands and determine the potential and optimal uses for each parcel.
Objective: Develop a master plan for the utilization of the Gray’s Inn property.
Policy: All town buildings should be handicapped accessible and have suitable restroom facilities.
Objective: Develop and implement a plan to upgrade and bring into compliance municipal facilities, such as the town hall and library.
Policy: In all appropriate instances, the town of Jackson shall work in a cooperative fashion with surrounding towns and the White Mountain National Forest to ensure maximum benefit for all the towns and the region.
Policy: The town will support the Highway Department’s provision of acceptable, safe travel ways throughout the town, while retaining its rural character.
Objective: Evaluate existing town roadways and develop a long-range program to maintain or improve the present roads so that they adequately meet the demands of current usage.
Objective: Continue to require that town roadways being constructed by private developers be built to the approved town standards.
Objective: Take necessary action to ensure the state assumes its responsibility for maintenance and reconstruction of Class I, II and III roads.
Objective: Develop guidelines governing development of lands adjacent to Class VI roads.
Policy: The town will provide information, inspection and suppression from inherent dangers of fire at a level of service required by the community.
Objective: Ensure that every new and substantially renovated building in the town be built to all applicable codes.
Objective: Develop a plan to maintain existing fire ponds and dry hydrants, establish new fire ponds and dry hydrants out of the hydrant district where necessary, and generally ensure that fire suppression needs of the town are met.
Policy: The town will provide an adequate level of enforcement services required by the town both now and in the future.
Objective: Continue funding to ensure quality law enforcement and police services for all town residents.
Policy: Emergency medical services should be maintained at the highest quality appropriate to meet the needs of the community.
Objective: Continue funding to ensure quality emergency medical service for all town residents.
Objective: Continue to work in a cooperative fashion with surrounding towns.
Objective: Ensure that all new development has suitable access by emergency vehicles.
Policy: The water precinct shall provide an adequate supply of water to meet the safe drinking water needs and fire suppression needs of the precinct members.
Objective: Maintain water precinct equipment and facilities so as to provide adequate treatment, storage and distribution of water supplies.
Objective: Update and/or expand facilities to meet the needs of the precinct members.
Objective: Regulate land uses in the watershed above the water precinct intake facilities to preserve water quality.
Objective: Investigate potential subsurface sources of water that could be used should the present source become inadequate or unusable.
Policy: Efforts to institute a cost effective and environmentally sound solid waste disposal system shall be supported.
Objective: Encourage and support the recycling of waste products.
Objective: Investigate regional solid waste solutions and work with nearby towns to develop a long-range disposal plan.
HUMAN SERVICES GOAL: Ensure that human and social services, such as housing, education, medical services and recreational opportunities, are available to meet the needs of the townspeople.
Policy: The availability of safe, livable, high-quality, compatible, and affordable housing shall be maintained to accommodate the needs of a diverse population, while protecting and enhancing the present and future values of the community’s existing housing.
Objective: Enforce the Life Safety Code in accordance with all applicable regulations.
Objective: Require that access to residential structures be suitable for use by emergency vehicles.
Objective: Inventory existing accessory apartments, rental housing and apartment buildings.
Objective: Consider methods of providing financial incentives for developments of small complexes (five or fewer units) of affordable housing.
Objective: Broaden the availability of affordable housing for elderly and low- to moderate-income people through creative alternatives.
Objective: Reexamine the issue of accessory apartments to determine if they provide a viable option in creating affordable housing.
Objective: Continue to permit apartments to be located on the second floor of store and office buildings in the Village.
Objective: Limit clustered housing to areas suitable for intensive development.
Policy: The town shall provide a sound educational system of the highest quality possible.
Objective: Funding should be adequate for a properly functioning school system.
Objective: Promote and support high educational standards for the school system.
Objective: Encourage citizen participation in the educational process to facilitate a better understanding by the community of the needs and requirements of the educational system, as well as adding enrichment to the educational program.
Objective: Evaluate the space allocation within the present school facility, including the basement, to assure that the educational needs of the entire student population are being met.
Objective: Decide on the use of the Trickey barn on school property.
Objective: Determine whether any available adjacent property could be added to the “Jackson School Community Campus,” since school district property is not sufficient for any further building additions to the existing footprint.
Policy: Adequate medical and social services shall be available to the residents of Jackson.
Objective: Promote citizens’ awareness of available human services through the use of the media, mailings and posted notices.
Objective: Ensure adequate funding of pertinent human services for the community through warrant articles.
Objective: Provide social and economic data for effective long-range planning of community services.
Policy: A legitimate library/media facility (or access to one) should be properly funded to provide adequate service and facilities to meet community needs.
Objective: In the library, provide books and materials that promote and stimulate knowledge, wisdom, culture and enjoyment for all citizens.
Objective: Encourage regular cooperation between the schools and the library.
Objective: Initiate programs to stimulate the use of library materials and to enlighten people of all ages.
Objective: Seek library funding from private and public sectors.
Objective: Determine how much space the library needs for proper functioning and devise a plan to reach that goal.
Policy: The recreational opportunities in the town shall be maintained and enhanced.
Objective: Support public and private recreational programs within the town.
Objective: Utilize the town’s present land holdings to further recreational opportunities for the community.
Objective: Establish recreational trails such as ski touring and hiking trails as permitted uses in all districts.
Objective: Encourage preservation of public access to recreational opportunities.
Objective: Support initiatives to develop parkland and other public space in ways that retain the natural flavor of an area while allowing for parking and other conveniences within a reasonable proximity.
Objective: Any accessory facilities required by recreational activities should be located unobtrusively away from roadways, viewpoints and private residences.
Objective: Encourage gifts of land or recreational easements to the town or conservation organizations in order to further recreational opportunities for the community.
DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE LAND USE
Jackson’s character – a small New Hampshire village center surrounded by sparsely settled rural areas and rugged, hilly terrain – remains important to its well-being as a tourist-oriented town.
Current Zoning Regulations
Since Jackson voters adopted zoning regulations in 1974, development has occurred largely as prescribed, excepting modifications made to non-conforming uses and structures. The village core has limited space available for future development because of its extensive floodplain and flood hazard areas. In the outlying rural parts of Jackson, development has occurred primarily on those privately owned parcels which have relatively easy access from the existing road network and which are not characterized by unusually difficult or sensitive terrain.
Analyses of current land use patterns and capabilities along with a review of citizen choices for development and preservation provide information upon which informed planning decisions can be based.
· Substantial portions of the Town of Jackson have development constraints, including national forest lands, floodplains, steep slopes, and shallow soil-to-bedrock conditions.
· Development pressures continue, even reaching to those areas without existing suitable road access.
· In a community survey completed at the end of 2001, ninety percent of the respondents stated that the rural atmosphere, low-density population and outdoor recreation are very important to them; 91% felt that scenic views and viewpoints should be protected. Seventy-five percent indicated that more land should be conserved and that development of hillsides and ridgelines should be regulated to lower visibility of structures.
· Tourism is the mainstay of Jackson’s economy and over half of those surveyed felt that the current level of tourism is appropriate. When asked what type of future development they would favor, about 71% of the respondents marked residential development, 50% favored tourist-oriented businesses, while over 90% indicated that commercial development such as fast-food restaurants and shopping malls are undesirable.
Future Land Use
Jackson residents live here because of the way it is now, and they do not see a need for significant change. The natural beauty, rural atmosphere and recreational opportunities of the town are important to them, and the emphasis is on conserving these natural resources. Tourism, agriculture and forestry are compatible with and dependent on the conservation and protection of the town’s natural resources.
Because most of the areas with road access and limited development constraints have already been developed, it is reasonable to anticipate an increase in applicants seeking to develop land with more sensitive topographic features. Suitable regulations must be developed to minimize impact on sensitive lands.
The following land uses should be allowed in the future:
Agricultural and Forest Land
Agricultural and forest land are important natural resources. Both preserve and protect the rural landscape, the scenic vistas, and the historic character of Jackson through providing open space and ecological benefit. They also offer recreational and economic opportunities.
Residential development continues to be allowed in those areas where the soils and slopes are not limiting. Low-density housing and designs that both emphasize the preservation of open space and minimize land disturbance, such as clustering, should continue to be encouraged in order to maintain the character of Jackson. The intensity of development should continue to be based on the land’s capability to sustain it, and not be detrimental to the preservation of Jackson’s natural resources.
Because Jackson has many tourist-oriented businesses, it is likely that some workers at those establishments, as well as town employees, will seek low-cost housing in town. With existing soil constraints, lack of public sewers, and high land values, housing tends to be expensive. To meet some of the housing needs for the workforce and senior citizens, accessory housing issues require reexamination. In addition, 51% of the respondents to the 2001 community survey selected Route 16 as a viable location for clustered residential housing.
Completion of the Route 16 bypass through Conway will increase commercial development pressures on lands adjacent to Route 16 in Bartlett and Jackson. Jackson needs to have appropriate regulations in place to ensure that any future commercial development is appropriate and suitably located.
The commercial district is presently defined as “that land within 500 feet on either side of the traveled center line of public Routes 16 and 16A and all other land between said routes.” This configuration, allowing commercial activities along the full length of Route 16 in Jackson, encourages strip development. Sixty-three of the 2001 community survey respondents favored rezoning part of Route 16 to “Rural Residential.” By redefining the commercial district to include the land on Route 16 and 16A in the village center and to exclude the land along Route 16 to the north of the village center, unsightly strip development could be prevented and the traditional village center atmosphere not be compromised.
Jackson attracts tourists because of its natural beauty. Retaining scenic features of the town and preserving viewsheds throughout the town will be necessary to retain that attraction. In addition, in recognition of the importance of access to mountains, hills, streams and other natural features, the designation of recreational trails as permitted uses within all districts needs to be examined.
An overlay district has been established “to promote and protect the health, safety and general welfare of the people of the Town,” restricting uses to ones which “will not alter the natural surface configuration of the land.” In general, open space uses are permitted in the district while most new structural uses are not.
Nonconformity of Use and/or Structure
Jackson seeks to decrease instances of nonconformity through suitable regulations. Because of past confusion on the intent of current regulations pertaining to nonconformance issues, it is recommended that regulations be rewritten for clarity.
Preservation of Natural Resources
One of Jackson’s greatest assets is its scenic beauty. The mountainous terrain, woodlands, open fields and orchards, and clean water and air have created an atmosphere that attracts visitors. With tourism as a major economic contributor in Jackson, retention of the natural setting of Jackson is critical.
Protecting Jackson’s many natural resources can be accomplished by such protective measures as individual conservation easements, public land acquisition, and land regulations designed both to protect critical and sensitive natural resources and to encourage private developers to design projects that have minimal impact on the environmental qualities and scenic beauty of the town.
Recognizing the sentiment of respondents to the 2001 community survey, the Planning Board needs to examine and propose regulations necessary to protect viewsheds and hillsides and to retain the town character.
Following adoption of this Master Plan, the Planning Board must initiate a review of zoning and subdivision regulations to ensure against redundancy and to include desirable land use changes. Involving citizens from all sectors of town will provide an opportunity to reach consensus on regulations that will be approved by the voters. This committee should include some Planning Board and Conservation Commission members; it must report its progress to the Planning Board on a regular basis.
The committee will be charged with reviewing this Master Plan and working to incorporate wording from both the goals and future land use sections into the form of regulations, bearing in mind the need for regulations that are neither cumbersome nor onerous.