Permit Acquisition Process

Governmental agencies at the federal, state and local levels have created a network of approvals to insure that planning goals are achieved, that the natural environment is protected, to make sure that your construction drawings and specifications have been carefully reviewed prior to any construction work task being initiated, etc. Of particular importance in completing any construction project is the timely acquisition of these regulatory permits. This section describes some of the many permits required by federal, state and local governmental entities. It also contains some tips that may be helpful to shorten the permit acquisition effort.

The purpose of this Permit Acquisition Process section is to acquaint the reader with our state's permit system. We have listed those permits and procedures that are most applicable to the majority of the businesses and companies that are proposing to develop or expand in the state. We have not provided a listing of all of the permits that the state issues. We suggest that you contact the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for a comprehensive listing of state issued permits. We also invite you to register with us to obtain an understanding of the various strategies that we employ to assist our clients in obtaining their permits in an efficient manner.


Site Related Federal Permits

Wetlands
Wetland areas are regulated by the Federal government through Section 404 provisions of the Clean Water Act. In New Hampshire, the alteration of wetland areas has been regulated since 1967. The State of New Hampshire Wetlands Board has been given approval by the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) to administer projects, under the New Hampshire Programmatic General Permit, impacting three acres of wetlands or less. Wetland areas greater than three acres must be reviewed by the COE. The federal government utilizes a clearinghouse approach when dealing with wetland area related permits. Permits approved by the COE are reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Both agencies can become involved should the situation warrant. In fact the EPA has veto power over the COE. They also are responsible for enforcing Section 404 regulations.

Wetlands are classified in accordance with the current version of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Manual. A three-criteria classification method is utilized. These include 1) the presence/absence of hydric soils (poorly drained or very poorly drained soils), 2) hydrophytic plants (those that are adapted to life in saturated soils), 3) and hydrology where saturation or inundation during the growing season must be determined.

As part of your permit application you will need to demonstrate that you have taken steps to avoid wetland area impacts to the maximum degree that you can. The COE can issue two levels of permits: 1) an individual permit which is issued for significant impact projects; and 2) a general permit that can be issued on a nationwide, regional or statewide basis. This later category is for minor roadway crossings, utility crossings, etc.


Flood Plain
The federal government governs flood plain management through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Flood plains are those areas where flood waters are expected to reach during a 100 year flood event. The 100 year flood event standard was developed to estimate flood frequencies for use in flood plain mapping. Mapping to show these flood plain areas is available from FEMA. Construction within a flood plain is possible, however mitigation to replace flood plain areas that have been filled is required. Construction cannot occur within the floodway corridor.


State of New Hampshire Permit System

The State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is responsible for the protection of the natural environment and public health. The DES has formed a Public Information and Permitting Unit (PIP) within the Office of the Commissioner. They can provide you with further information concerning the various permits required by a project. You may contact them at (603) 271-2957. Their Unit assists both you and your engineer by assuming the role of a facilitator.

The DES is currently being evaluated for reorganization. Results of the reorganization process should be known within the next several months. We welcome you to contact this site for up-to-date information regarding this reorganization.


State of New Hampshire Permits

The State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) has published a "Guidebook for Environmental Permits in New Hampshire" 1994 Edition. This publication lists the various permits that are issued by their department and provides detailed description of each.

The DES charges fees for reviewing permits. Current fee levels can be obtained through our firm or through the DES themselves.

The State of New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) also has various approvals that may be needed. Typically new project sites that access the state highway system require a Driveway Permit. The Department is divided into district offices. These permits are normally administered through the district office that serves the geographic area in which your project is located. The DOT also is involved in the review of any alterations that are made to the state highway system. They may also have input when traffic studies are conducted to evaluate the impact your project may have on the area's roadways.


Local Permits
Each community in the state has regulations that govern the planning and development of construction projects. In addition to the Select Board or City Council, communities have various boards that administer these regulations including a Zoning Board of Adjustment, Planning Board and Conservation Commission. Several communities have architectural Review Boards where architectural style, landscaping and other aesthetic features are reviewed. Each board has various prescribed formal procedures that include pre-hearing meetings, plan submittal deadlines, formal public hearings and other requirements to allow public participation.

Zoning Boards generally establish, review and approve any uses for which a property may be utilized. Land in the community is typically separated into land uses that include those designated for Residential, Commercial, Institutional, Industrial and Agricultural. A development can occur by Right, by Special Exception or be Not Allowed depending upon it's classification and how it meets conditions set forth under each designation. Since communities often undergo change as they grow and prosper, rezoning of land uses does occur. Changes to the zoning ordinance are made quite frequently in many communities that have zoning.

Once a project has met with the Zoning Board and has obtained zoning related approvals, the Planning Board approval process begins. Oftentimes, the Planning Board invites the applicant to meet informally with the board to introduce the board members to the project and to allow them to provide input in an informal basis. This is what is termed the pre-hearing meeting. Some larger communities that have paid staff that support board activities allow this introduction to be made to such staff. Some communities retain a Professional Engineer to provide this service and to review the applicant's engineering and architectural plans.

It is quite common that other community departments review your project plans and specifications to provide their input. Police, fire, water and sewer departments or commissions have various technical requirements and approvals that are needed to be obtained before the Planning Board can give their formal approval to the project. In addition, the local Conservation Commission administers their regulations which govern wetland area impacts. These regulations vary from community to community. Approval from this Commission is also required prior to Planning Board approval being granted.

Once the engineering plans are completed the applicant is required to submit the plans for review. This review period takes place during the two weeks prior to a formal public hearing being held which is called the "Preliminary Plan" hearing. It is at this meeting that comments are shared with the applicant and approval conditions are provided. This hearing may be continued should specific issues still need to be resolved. Once all comments have been adequately addressed and agreed upon by the Board and upon the receipt of notification of all federal and state approvals, then the Final Plan" approval can be given by the community.

Most communities also administer a Building Permit through their Building Code Enforcement Department. Such communities typically use the BOCA Code. You should be aware that not all communities use the same edition of this Code. The State's Fire Marshall's Office also uses the BOCA Code. Once the building has been found to meet the appropriate building code, they would then issue an Occupancy Permit.



Private Utility Approvals
In addition to local improvements being needed to construct your project, local private utilities also have regulations and conditions upon which these utilities can be extended or provided to your project. Such utilities can include electrical power, natural gas, telephone and telecommunications, cable TV, etc. Planning Boards typically want to see evidence of such private utility approvals before granting their approval.


Orchestrating the Permit Acquisition Process
At PROVAN & LORBER, INC. we have developed a permit acquisition procedure that has saved our clients tens of thousands of dollars in obtaining approvals quickly and efficiently. We have long recognized that the permit acquisition process "drives" the design. Our staff is well versed in federal, state and local regulations and is familiar with the requirements of municipal planning boards.


Most engineering firms simply submit their permit applications upon completion of their design plans and take their chances when agency personnel make their reviews. That strategy typically extends the time it takes to obtain needed permits. We at PROVAN & LORBER, INC. involve the review agencies early in the process, negotiating permit requirements as the project proceeds. By the time the plans and specifications are completed and the formal permit application is submitted, the reviewers have already had their input and can complete their review in a much shorter time period. Our firm has worked very hard at streamlining our permit acquisition process and has gained a reputation for meeting this special need of our clients.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about the permit acquisition techniques we employ on behalf of our clients.

Text-based Table of Contents

Preparing a Vision of Your Project | Developing a Marketing Plan | Developing a Proforma
Sources of Project Financing | Project Phases | Wetland Delineation and Summary Report
Environmental Site Assessments | Permit Acquisition Process
Project Delivery Systems | Data Checklist


 
Page developed and administered by nh.com.
Copyright ©1996 by Provan & Lorber. All rights reserved.

Feedback to: access@nh.com