Planning Board

  • Public Hearing


    The Town of Canaan is proceeding with planning improvements for the Grist Mill Hill Road Bridge. As part of the regulated process for this federally funded project, the Town is hosting a Public Informational Meeting. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 16 at 6:00 PM at the Emergency Operations Center, located at 52 NH Route 118 in Canaan, NH. At this meeting, HEB will review the project status, alternatives considered, and present the Town’s proposed action. Your attendance would be appreciated, and feedback is encouraged.

    The Historic District Commission

    Notice of Public Hearing
    The Historic District Commission will conduct a public hearing for a pickleball court at 569 Canaan Street, which will take place Monday, July 15, 2024, at 7:10 PM in the HealthFirst Family Care Center, 18 Roberts Road.   The property is identified as tax map 9 lot 8 and is owned by Nancy Rosenthal.   The applications and zoom instructions may be found on the agenda

Under New Hampshire statutes, Canaan’s Planning Board has the following powers and responsibilities:

  • Developing and updating the Town’s Master Plan
  • Assisting in developing and updating the Capital Improvements Plan
  • Recommend Zoning and Innovative Land Use Ordinances & Amendments
  • Adopting and administering certain regulations:
    • Sub-division
    • Site Plan
    • Excavation
    • Driveway
  • In conjunction with Select Board:
    • Authorizing building on older private roads or unmaintained town roads (Class VI)
    • Appointing members of the Board of Adjustment
  • Establishes Road Construction Standards
  • Approves Subdivision and Site Plan Roads
  • Mergers of existing lots
  • Lot line adjustments

The Planning Board meets at 6:00pm at the Healthfirst Family Center Conference room- 18 Roberts Road, and also via Zoom on the second and fourth Thursday of the Month from January through October. During November & December the board only meets on the second Thursday.

See Current Agenda for details, including Zoom instructions.

To be on the agenda, please contact John Bergeron at 523-9621.

Names are followed by term end

John Bergeron, Chair 2027
Claude Lemoi, Vice Chair 2026
Thomas Oppel, Secretary 2027
Michael Riese, Scribe, 2025
Nicholas Lavalley, 2025
Corinne Morse, 2026
Stephen Freese, Select Board Ex Officio

Bryan Armbrust, alternate 2027
Nan Stone, alternate 2026
Jerry Brightman, alternate 2025

Master Plan 2019

Master Plan purpose:

A guide for future development related to land use change.
Assist the Planning Board as it updates ordinances and regulations.
Guidance for any Zoning or Innovative Land Use Ordinance that the town may consider.
To preserve and enhance the quality of life of all residents in Canaan.

Master Plan Vision of Canaan’s Future:

Canaan will remain a diverse community with a rural character, growing at a moderate pace, and will be an attractive place to live and work for both new arrivals and the existing residents.

Canaan Village will be a lively commercial, social and municipal center, with restaurants, stores and medical services. While Canaan will remain primarily a residential community, commercial and industrial opportunities will expand, providing new levels of economic vitality.

Canaan will remain a safe place to live and visit, with excellent police and fire departments. The Town will maintain its roads well, and residents and Village visitors will value the sidewalks.

Automobile transportation will remain the dominant mode of travel in Canaan. Canaan will continue to ensure that roadways are as safe as possible for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Canaan will be a place where Town residents will get maximum enjoyment from the natural environment. The Town will strengthen protection of its surface waters and will employ exemplary measures to protect river and lake shorelines.

Locations that people cherish will be better protected, and the history of the community will be preserved. Children will gain better understanding and respect the history of Canaan, including its unique educational history and its development from an agricultural economy, to the home of small industries, and now to becoming a residential town.

Canaan will preserve the rural character that our people cherish so much. Open lands and stone walls will remain scattered throughout the countryside.

The Town will continue to have a mix of housing, with our historic frame houses complemented by dwellings of newer construction. New subdivisions in town will integrate open space conservation ideals into their design.

We will have a high regard for our Town’s natural resources. We will value the surface and groundwater resources that make up the ponds, rivers, streams, wetlands, and aquifers.  The forests of Canaan will be productive for timber harvest, for wildlife habitat, and for hunting and other recreation.

Canaan will work together with its neighbors in seeking regional solutions to the problems of rural life in the 21st century.

Master Plan Survey 2013

The last town wide survey related to land use planning was conducted in 2013.
Results may be viewed here. 

The Planning Board administers regulations for Sub-divisions, Site Plans, Excavations, and driveways.

Subdivision typically involves the creation of new lots, and the services of a licensed surveyor are required by law.   Additional professionals may be required such as wetland or soil scientists.  The surveyor can advise you, as to who is required, which varies by site.  The minimum size of a lot depends upon the terrain and soils.   It must be large enough to support a septic system and well, if not on municipal services, and buildings with appropriate emergency access.  At least 50 feet of frontage is required on a road, and a driveway permit is required.  Prior to submitting a formal application, you are welcome to attend a Planning Board meeting to discuss concepts and alternatives. There is no fee for conceptual discussions.  The fee for a formal submittal is $150 plus other fees, which vary from project to project based upon number of abutters and professionals used on your project. Please contact Tax Assessor’s office for fees on your project.

A Lot Line Adjustment is a subdivision, but no new lots are created, however a surveyor is required.  Other professionals and driveway permits are usually not required.  The fee is the same as above.

Existing lots may be merged without a surveyor or other professionals.  Any lot to be merged must have written consent of mortgage holders before the lots are merged.  Fee required is $30.

Placing additional dwellings, beyond the first, on an existing lot is a subdivision, but there is no town fee.   The main purpose is to ensure the lot is capable of supporting addition dwellings, with an emphasis on health and safety.

Site plan approval only applies to Large Wind Energy Systems. 

Excavation activity is regulated by the Planning Board. The Canaan Excavation Regulations and Permit are available here and an Explanation of Regulations is available here.

Driveways on state roads are approved by NH DOT, and those on town roads are approved by Canaan Highway Department.

Building on Class VI or Private Roads is a regulation required by state law.  Since the town has some older substandard private roads established before the town had road standards, and because the town has stopped maintaining some of our public roads, consideration must be given before building on these substandard or unmaintained roads, since they may not meet fire codes or other requirements.  After review the applicant may be required to upgrade the road before building, or the application may be denied a permit.  Each situation is unique and must be examined.

Subdivision regulation may be found in the first 16 pages of the Town of Canaan Land Use Regulations.

Please open the Forms tab below where you will find the subdivision application form, checklists, other forms, and useful documents.

All ordinances below have been approved at town meeting.

Canaan does not have comprehensive zoning, so there are no zoning districts such as residential districts or commercial districts.  There is no minimum lot size other than what is needed to support the planned use of a lot.

There is a Historic District Ordinance and related regulations which control land within the Canaan Historic District.  This is similar to zoning, but adopted under state laws related to historic preservation rather than zoning law.   More information can be learned on the Historic District Commission Page

There are four ordinances adopted under Innovative Land Use, which is a limited type of zoning directed at specific concerns.   These three regulate Large Wind Energy Systems, Drinking Water Protection, Flood Plain Management, and Impact Fee.

Large Wind Energy Systems relates to wind powered turbines with numerous towers spread over many acres and frequently crossing municipal boundaries.  This doesn’t regulate small residential wind systems.  Ordinance may be viewed at Ordinance for Large Wind Energy Systems

Drinking Water Protection The Drinking Water Protection Ordinance   protects community water supplies such as village, schools, manufactured home parks, and large employers from hazards associated with commercial activities.  Protected area dimensions are may be viewed here.  The south eastern cove of Canaan Street Lake is a reservoir, and trespassing is prohibited year round. Ordinance may be viewed at Drinking Water Protection Ordinances.

Flood Plan Management regulates construction within flood prone area, seeking to increase personal safety and minimize property damage.  This is necessary to obtain Federal flood insurance. Ordinance may be viewed at Town of Canaan Floodplain Ordinance

Impact Fee was intended to collect fees to offset added cost associated with new homes or other development.  Fees related to roads, library, emergency services, schools are all eligible.  The Planning Board and Select Board have examine this on several occasions and repeatedly determine the administrative costs are too high to justify implementation. Ordinance may be viewed at Canaan Impact Fee Ordinance

Other regulations regarding sites and building can be found on the Building Inspector Page and general information on Canaan Permits can be found on the Land & Construction Permits Guide

Furthermore, there are federal floodway regulations that restrict or limit activity in floodways, and there are state laws which regulate shoreline and wetland activities:

Floodway and Floodplain Regulations

State of New Hampshire Bureaus & Regulations