Planning Board

    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 6:30pm at the Mascoma Community Health Center, 18 Roberts Road, and also via Zoom on the second and fourth Thursday of the Month (except Nov & Dec where only the first monthly meeting is held)

    Use the Virtual Meeting Zoom Link Meeting ID: 851 0068 4886
    Passcode: 859215

    Alternatively, to join meeting by telephone, please call one of these two numbers:
    (301) 715-8592 US or (929) 436-2866
    Help line 603-252-9622

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

    Names are followed by term end

    John Bergeron, Chair 2024
    Claude Lemoi, Vice Chair 2023
    Charles Townsend, Secretary 2022
    Thomas Oppel, 2023
    Andy Van Abs, 2024
    Christopher Wadsworth, 2022
    Richard Clancy, Alternate, 2021
    David Auerbach, Alternate, 2023
    Vacant, Alternate, 2023
    Dave McAlister, Select Board Ex Officio

    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 Form C, 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

    Forms may be filled out electronically if the Form PDF is opened and saved to your own computer. In some browsers you may need to roll your mouse along the bottom of the PDF to view the Save Menu.

    Forms may be returned to the Town Office at 1169 US Route 4, PO Box 38, Canaan NH 03741

    Minor and Major Subdivision, Site Plans, Design Review, and Lot Line Adjustments:

    Application fees shall be payable to the Town of Canaan at the time of application. A fee of $150.00 includes town processing and Registry of Deeds filing of a single sheet Mylar. An additional fee to cover US Postal Services certified mailings to all abutters, and others as determined by law, is required. This is calculated as the number of addresses times the current USPS certified return receipt charge. A separate check made payable to the Registry of Deeds for the LCHIP fee (currently $25.00), shall be included with the plat (Mylar), when submitted for final approval. Any additional fee imposed by county, state or federal government shall be paid by the applicant.

    Lot Mergers: A fee of $30 payable to town of Canaan.

    Additional Dwelling: No charge

    Building on class VI or Private Road: No charge

    Excavations: Upon filing $150 When permit issued $50