7 Bridge Street
Colebrook, NH 03576

March 5, 2024

Ms. Dottie Keazer and
Colebrook Citizens:

This letter is written in response to Mrs. Keazer’s letter printed in today’s News & Sentinel:

The Colebrook Town Warrant and ballot for March 12th will ask voters to adopt zoning changes that will provide more affordable housing for Colebrook renters and more income opportunities for Colebrook property owners by allowing flexibility to property owners, while protecting neighbors from unwanted disturbances.

The Colebrook Planning Board has spent two years conducting a public conversation with voters and property owners in Colebrook to expand affordable housing, expand business opportunities for Colebrook property owners, and reduce regulations for Colebrook’s citizens.

In 2022, the State of New Hampshire made one time grants available to municipalities to do needs analysis, planning work, and reviewing local regulations “with the purpose of increasing housing supply.” This $63,300 grant from Invest NH allowed the Colebrook Planning Board to reach out to more than 200 Colebrook residents by surveys and widely publicized public meetings at the Town Hall.  We are very grateful to the business, faith, and social service leaders, as well as Colebrook parents, pensioners, and property owners that gave us the insight we needed to better meet their needs.

We used this input to begin the first comprehensive update of Colebrook’s zoning rules in decades. At last year’s Town Meeting Colebrook voters approved new more flexible lot sizes, simplified rules for cluster housing, definition updates to cover new types of manufactured houses and recreational vehicles, as well as an update to our floodplain ordinance.  Much of our work was simply bringing our rules and language into compliance with the many statutes and regulations adopted by the State of New Hampshire. These updates will assure Colebrook residents land use is in compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

Recent surveys of Colebrook have found that a quarter of our potential housing units are vacant. Many Colebrook residents have modest incomes and housing needs, while many others have extra rooms, extra land and extra space to build on. On Tuesday March 12, we will ask voters to approve new zoning ordinances that will allow Colebrook residents to rent out rooms, accessory dwelling units, and converted barns and other out-buildings to up to three transient, seasonal, and non-transient dwellers.  (Accessory dwelling units are usually modest apartments attached to, or near, a private residential building unlike a public accommodation, such as a motel, B&B,or campground.)  We will also allow single family homes to be rented for short term use by transients, or one unit in a two-family home. Lastly, responding to public demand, and state law, we will allow cluster development of small modest houses (up to 1,200 ft).

Colebrook has been recognized by the State Housing Academy as having one of the most modern up-to-date zoning ordinances in New Hampshire.

Next year the planning board will present streamlined, simplified, and less often required site-planning regulations to be more welcoming to new businesses, as well as a new Master Plan that will try to keep what we love about Colebrook, provide affordable housing for sufficient workers to allow our businesses to grow, and allow more of our residents to provide housing to family members, and derive income from their property to augment their income. None of these efforts required one penny from Colebrook property taxes. We want to lessen the burden, while augmenting the benefits, of sound unobtrusive land use policies. Your Planning Board consists of five elected members and one part-time employee. We have no plans to add additional staff.


The Colebrook Planning Board

Greg Sipple – Chairman

Robert Barry Murphy – Vice Chairman

Suzanne Collins – Selectmen’s Representative

Sandra Riendreau – Member at Large

Michelle Strasburger – Member at Large