Town of Antrim, NH
(Adopted March 11, 2008)

A. AUTHORITY: The Town of Antrim hereby adopts this ordinance pursuant to the authority granted under RSA 674:16, in particular RSA 674:16, II relative to innovative land use controls (RSA 674:21), in order to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare.  The Planning Board may adopt additional regulations in order to effectively implement this ordinance.

B. PURPOSE: The purposes of Open Space Residential Development (OSRD) are to encourage flexibility in the design of residential land use; promote the most efficient use of land in harmony with its natural features; provide reasonable opportunities for housing for all Antrim residents while at the same time maintain a rural density compatible with the character of Antrim; discourage development sprawl; preserve open space, agricultural land, tree cover, scenic vistas and wildlife habitats; and preserve undeveloped frontage along existing roads; and facilitate the economical and efficient provision of common utilities. These purposes are considered to be consistent with the Vision for Antrim as stated in the Master Plan.

C. BACKGROUND: Under the OSRD approach, the community, Planning Board, and Planning Staff works with the developer to fit the development into the landscape in a way that maximizes the protection of important natural and cultural amenities on the site and maintains the character of the community.  The OSRD approach supplements efforts to protect whole parcels through outright purchase or conservation easement.  As housing demand increases in NH, conservation easements or the outright purchase of land are proving to be increasingly costly and therefore communities are pursuing a variety of ways to manage growth, protect important resources, and maintain community character.  

D. BENEFITS: The Conservation Subdivision provides numerous economic, environmental, and social benefits to a community.  Some of these benefits include:

        • Reducing the area of land over which homes will be built can reduce the cost of       developing the lots, which in some cases can translate to lower housing prices.

        • Future service costs for public infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and water       lines, are reduced because roads and water/sewer lines can be shorter within an         OSRD.

        • Travel distances are reduced for school buses, refuse trucks, snow plow and   other service vehicles.

        • Property values within OSRDs can appreciate faster than properties in         conventional subdivisions due to the added amenities provided by the adjacent   open space.

        • The availability of open space can improve the quality of life in a community.
        • OSRDs help communities preserve open space, including important and unique    natural and cultural features, such as archeological or historical sites and    resources.

        • These subdivisions generally create less impervious surface, thus reducing    runoff to local water bodies, such as rivers and streams.

        • The open space can provide a buffer to protect water bodies and other natural         areas, lowering the impact that development has on fragile natural features.

        • The open space can be linked to other open space developments or protected    areas to create a larger network of protected areas.

        • The clustering of houses can encourage more walking and more frequent         interaction with ones’ neighbors, fostering a stronger sense of community.

E. DEFINITIONS: The following definitions apply specifically to Open Space Residential Development.  Definitions in the Antrim Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulations, and Site Plan Review Regulations also apply where pertinent.

        (1) BUFFER - Land area maintained in either a natural or landscaped state and used to visibly separate or screen one use from another or to minimize potentially negative impacts on surrounding areas (e.g., shield or block noise, light or other nuisances, reduce water pollution). Buffer areas may include such things as fences or berms as well as shrubs and trees.

        (2) BUILDABLE LOT - The smallest lot area established by the zoning ordinance on which a use or structure may be located in a particular district.

        (3) BUILDING ENVELOPE - Area within which clearing, grading, lawns, pavement and buildings will be located.

        (4) COMMON LEACHING SYSTEM - A system for the collection and processing via leach fields, the effluent from more than two septic tanks, including all of the pipes, valves and other equipment, land and easements necessary for operating such a system. All of the leaching equipment will be in a single common ownership, though the septic tanks may not.

        (5) CONSERVATION EASEMENT - A permanent legal restriction against future development and other activities as specified in the conservation easement deed. An easement may be worded to permit or restrict public access, allow or disallow recreational uses, allow or disallow other uses, such as limited development, agriculture, or forestry. Easements are tied to the title of the land, regardless of subsequent ownership.

        (6) CONSTRUCTION PLAN - The maps or drawings accompanying a subdivision plat and showing the specific location and design of improvements to be installed in the subdivision in accordance with the requirement of the Planning Board as a condition of the approval of the subdivision plat.

        (7) DEED RESTRICTION - See Restricted Covenant.

        (8) DEVELOPABLE LAND - The land area of the total tract available for development after deducting wetlands, hydric soils, open water, slopes over 25%, existing easements, and all common improvements (including roads, sewer, and water).

        (9) FARM/ AGRICULTURE - Any land, buildings, or structures on or in which agriculture and farming operations are carried out as the principal use, including all operations outlined in RSA 21:34:a II.

        (10) HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION -- A private nonprofit corporation, association, or other legal entity organized in accordance with state law which is established by the developer or the member individuals to manage and support the activities of the open space development.  Membership in said association shall be mandatory for property owners. Individual owners share common interests in open space and/or facilities and are in charge of preserving, managing and maintaining the common property, and enforcing certain covenants and restrictions. Articles of Association or Incorporation or any amendments thereto must be acceptable to the Planning Board and approved by Town Counsel.

        (11) IMPROVEMENT - Refers to site grading, street work and utilities, including water, sewer, electric, gas and stormwater to be installed or agreed to be installed by the subdivider on land to be used for public or private streets, and easements or other purposes as are necessary for the general use of a lot.

        (12) OPEN SPACE, COMMON - Land within or related to a development, not individually owned or dedicated for public use, which is designed and intended for the common use or enjoyment of the residents of the development and/or the town and may include such complementary structures and improvements as are necessary, appropriate and approved by the Planning Board.

        (13) OPEN SPACE RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT (OSRD) – An alternate form of residential subdivision that, instead of subdividing an entire tract into lots of conventional size, encourages and facilitates the maximization of protected open space by allowing housing units to be grouped on sites or lots with dimensions, frontages and setbacks reduced from conventional sizes.  Also referred to as a CONSERVATION SUBDIVISION.

        (14) RESTRICTED COVENANT - A restriction on the use of land usually set forth in the deed for the property.
        (15) SKETCH PLAN – A preparatory sketch to the preliminary subdivision plat layout to enable the subdivider to save time and expense in reaching agreement with the Planning Board as to the form of the plat and the objectives of these regulations.

        (16) TRACT - An area, parcel, site, piece of land, or property which is the subject of development proposal and application.

F. DEVELOPMENT DESIGN CRITERIA: When considering any OSRD project, the Planning Board shall give particular attention to the following criteria, which address not only physical design standards but the cumulative effect of the proposal on the land in question, the neighborhood, and the town.

        (1) The proposed development will be consistent with, and comply with, the general purpose, goals, objectives, standards and provisions of the Antrim Master Plan.

        (2) The individual lots, buildings, streets and parking areas shall be designed and situated as to minimize alteration of the natural, cultural and/or historic site features, and will take those features into account in the placement of all structures.

        (3) The suitability of all common open space shall be determined by the size, shape, topography and location for the proposed purpose, and shall be accessible to all intended users.


        (1) Location and Mandatory Requirements. Open Space Residential Development shall be permitted in all zoning districts.  However, the Planning Board reserves the right to disapprove or limit a proposal based on issues such as road conditions or infrastructure, for example.

        (2) Permitted Uses. Open Space Residential Development is limited to residential development, uses accessory thereto, and any incidental recreational uses as approved by the Planning Board.

        (3) Tract Area. The minimum tract area for Open Space Residential Development shall be at least fifteen (15) acres.

        (4) Allowable Density. The maximum number of dwellings shall be determined by developing a yield plan which represents a conventional subdivision design plan, conforming with and satisfying all requirements of the Town of Antrim Zoning Ordinances and the Town of Antrim Subdivision and Site Plan Review Regulations.  Density shall not exceed what would be allowed in the district(s) under a conventional subdivision, and only developable land can be calculated in determining density.  For the purposes of this section, the minimum lot size applies to single-family dwellings, duplexes and multi-family buildings containing not more than six (6) dwelling units.
        (5) Allowable Lot and Yard Requirements. The Planning Board may, but is not required to, reduce conventional lot sizes, frontages, and setbacks for developments that meet the criteria outlined in Paragraph C above. In determining the extent to which these controls may be reduced, the Planning Board shall consider the purposes as outlined in Paragraph A and the Vision and Recommendations of relevant sections of the Antrim Master Plan.
                (a) The minimum lot size for individual building lots within an Open    Space Residential Development project shall be determined by the Planning       Board and negotiated between the Board and the applicant.

                (b) Consideration shall be given to flexibility in site design and the  preservation of open space; however, in no case shall the minimum lot size per  dwelling be less than 25% of the required area for a lot in a conventional      subdivision.

                (c) All OSRD plans are required to identify the ‘building envelope’ for         each individual building lot within an OSRD, demonstrating that the proposed lot        can accommodate all planned and potential future development.

        (6) Frontage and Setback Requirements. The following dimensional standards are intended to create a sense of place, or neighborhood - a "pedestrian friendly" space, allowing opportunities for children to play and residents to gather in the proximity of the home.
                (a) Tract Dimensions.

                        [1] Frontage. There is no minimum frontage requirement from                     which the development gains access but the tract must have existing                     frontage on or be accessed from a town- or state-maintained road in order                       to be developed into an OSRD. The Planning Board reserves the right to                   require additional frontage to secure appropriate buffering, depending                  upon adjacent land uses.

                        [2] Setbacks. No building shall be closer than fifty (50) feet to the                   perimeter of the tract.

                (b) Internal Dimensions.

                        [1] Frontage. Individual lots within the development shall front                        only on internal roads. The amount of frontage shall be determined by the                       Planning Board in order to encourage flexibility in site design. The                    Planning Board reserves the right to require appropriate separation                              between driveways.

                        [2] Setbacks. Front, side, and rear setbacks for individual lots                        within the development may be modified, as determined by the Planning                   Board; in no case, however, shall buildings be closer than thirty (30) feet                     from one another.

        (7) Landscape Buffer. A buffer area of at least fifty (50) feet from the perimeter of the tract measured inward shall be provided. The natural vegetation shall be retained or, if required, vegetation of a type and amount as deemed appropriate by the Planning Board shall be planted and maintained. No dwelling, accessory structure, street or parking area shall be permitted within the designated buffer area. Streets that serve as access to the development may cross the buffer.

        (8) Water and Septic Systems. The design and construction of all water systems and either individual or common septic systems must be approved by the Antrim Department of Public Works and the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Proposals will be evaluated based on the potential risks in the event of a system failure. Septic systems may not be located in the common open space, unless it can be demonstrated that there will be no detrimental impact on the utility and purpose of the common open space. A backup system, however, may be placed within the common open space.

        (9) Streets and Walkways.
                (a) All interior streets shall be designed and constructed in accordance        with the Town of Antrim Road Standards. Interior connecting roads and road      easements linking to adjacent properties shall be utilized where appropriate.  Dead     end streets and cul-de-sacs are discouraged.  In the interests of encouraging a         sense of neighborhood place and scale, road width may be negotiated, but not at         the expense of public safety. The Planning Board may require special safety     measures, such as posted reduced speed limits, speed barriers, or other features      that encourage safe use of any proposed roadway.

                (b) In the design and placement of walkways and sidewalks, the Planning         Board shall consider pedestrian safety and the creation of a sense of neighborhood      and community.

        (1) The amount of common open space in the development shall be the amount saved by reduction in lot sizes; except that at least 40% of the total tract shall be designated as permanent common open space in the Residential, Village Business, and Highway Business Districts; at least 50% of the total tract shall be designated as permanent common open space in the Rural District; and at least 60% of the total tract shall be designated as permanent common open space in the Rural Conservation and Lakefront Residential Districts.  Land designated as common open space may not be further subdivided. The area designated for roadways may not be included in the calculation for common open space.
        (2) Common open space may include areas of water; it may not consist principally of land difficult to utilize. The minimum required common open space shall not consist of more than 50% of undevelopable land.

        (3) The area, configuration, and location of designated open space shall be as approved by the Planning Board. All areas of open space do not necessarily need to be contiguous, but consideration shall be given to connections between non-contiguous areas, as well as accessibility by all residents of the development.

        (4) The common open space may be used for the purposes of recreation, public easement, open space, conservation or agriculture, as approved by the Planning Board. During the review process consideration will always be given to abutting land uses. Any future change in such designated use must be approved by the Planning Board.

I. HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION: A homeowner's association shall be formed to manage the common lands, as applicable, and infrastructure facilities of the development, including water and septic systems, maintenance of roads, landscaping, lighting, signage, structures, etc.


        (1) The Common Open Space shall be held, managed and maintained by the developer until it is owned and maintained in one or more of the following ways, subject to approval by the Planning Board:

                (a) In common by a homeowners association. If an association is formed  to own and maintain the common open space, it may not be dissolved without the  consent of the Planning Board.

                (b) By the Town of Antrim, which may, if approved by the voters at Town         Meeting, accept dedication of any portion of the common open space for  perpetual public use and maintenance.

                (c) By a bona fide conservation trust registered in the State of New    Hampshire or other suitable organization.

        (2) All common open space and facilities shall be permanently protected by covenants, easements, and/or restrictions running with the land, which must be approved by the Planning Board and Town Counsel before conveyance to the land owner(s).

        (3) Documents pertaining to Open Space Residential Development shall be recorded with the approved Plat.

        (4) The persons or entities identified as having the rights of ownership over the common open space shall be responsible for its continued upkeep and proper maintenance.
        (5) The common open space in an approved development is considered to be part of the residential use of the development and shall not be considered to be eligible for any current use taxation assessments under RSA 79-A, except where such use consists of actively operated farmland.


        (1) All proposals for OSRD are subject to subdivision approval.  Preliminary design review with the Planning Board is highly recommended for all OSRDs (as are all major subdivisions) before any formal application or final approvals are sought.  In addition, relevant sections of the Site Plan Review Regulations will be applied, including but not limited to issues around traffic, signage, lighting, etc.

        (2) Although OSRD projects may be subdivided and developed in phases, no incremental approvals will be granted. The entire tract to be considered for development must be presented as a whole so that the Planning Board may consider the entirety of the project.
        3) It is the intent of this section to authorize the Planning Board to modify or waive any portion(s) of the requirements of this ordinance in such cases where, in the opinion of the Planning Board, strict conformity would pose an unnecessary hardship to the applicant and such modification and/ or waiver would not be contrary to the spirit and intent of this ordinance.

Updated 3/20/08