Department of Environmental Studies
This paper explores rural land use issues and examines rural land use controls. It identifies the shortcomings of the most commonly accepted of urban controls and proposes and alternative method of control appropriate to rural towns. The proposed zoning method incorporates the conventional technique of districting associated with Euclidean zoning with a performance approach. Performance standards suited to rural town administrative capacity and to land and resource concerns are suggested. The planning experiences of the Town of Canaan, New Hampshire, are used to illustrate the dilemma faced by rural communities when experiencing rapid land use change. The Canaan Planning Board’s approach to land use control is indicative of the pattern of increasingly complex control which evolves in most rural towns. The land use controls which new Hampshire towns are enabled to adopt are examined and the conventional Euclidean zoning approach as it was proposed in Canaan is explained. The shortcomings of this approach are presented and an alternative approach, incorporating performance standards is explored. Zoning as proposed, based on performance controls, is a hybrid zoning technique combining use districts and performance standards. The steps a town should take to adopt such controls are discussed as are the limitations to the method. In conclusion, the future implications of rural land use controls are discussed.