Land Use Plan Strategies

Rewrite the Land Use and Zoning Code

The community’s land-use and zoning ordinance provides the detailed regulations that implement the land-use plan. It regulates uses, height, bulk, area, setbacks, parking, signage and other requirements. Changes will be recommended to the zoning ordinance in order to align it with the intent of the Future Land Use Map. These will include changes to the city's official zoning map. As the community moves forward with this revision, other types of land-use regulations should be considered that will incorporate walkability, green infrastructure, sustainable building, a smart-growth principle and other features outlined in this plan. Performance zoning is one type of code that should be reviewed as part of this process.

Consider the Creation of a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program

As part of the community’s land use and zoning code update process, the creation of a TDR program should be considered. A TDR program aims to: provide land owners with the ability to purchase and sell development rights; preserve sensitive and highly valued natural resources in the community (e.g. hillsides, agricultural lands, surface waters, etc.); and focus development towards areas that are better suited to accommodate increased levels of development, such as in mixed-use areas, the downtown core, and commercial or residential areas – all where existing infrastructure is located. Keene is well-positioned to create such a program given its existing developed and open space land-use patterns which in turn create clear areas for sending and receiving zones for development rights. TDR programs have been successfully applied in similar communities throughout the U.S., and such a program could be an influential land use tool in assisting Keene towards achieving its vision for the future.

Revision of Site Plan Regulations and Creation of Subdivision Regulations

The Planning Board’s site plan regulations will require updating to align development standards with the master plan’s development strategies and with the Future Land Use Map. The creation of separate subdivision regulations is also recommended to address land subdivision in a way that is supportive of the strategies in this plan and the land use section. Considerations of street trees, alternative stormwater management, sustainable site design and walkability are just a few aspects that should be incorporated into updated development regulations.

Community Building Codes

The community’s building codes should also be updated to encourage both energy efficiency and sustainable building and rehabilitation. Keene has consistently adopted the State Building Code, and the city and community may want to consider how the code might help in achieving the strategies of this plan.

Encouraging Quality Design

Though codes and regulations are designed to regulate uses, they may not be an effective way to encourage quality design. This can be accomplished through several means, such as dedicated design review, use of design guidelines, or use of performance zoning that focuses not on the parcel’s use but its performance and how it relates, interacts with and impacts surrounding areas.