House committee kills Cormier's bill to eliminate planning commissions

CONCORD — A bill to do away with the nine regional planning commissions, sponsored by state Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton), received short shrift last week at the hands of the House Municipal and County Government Committee, which unanimously reported it "inexpedient to legislate."

When the committee held a public hearing on the House Bill 1573, Tim Carter of Meredith, along with others from the Lakes Region Tea Party, pictured the regional planning commissions as the Judas goats of a federal effort, pursued under the aegis of the Granite State Future project, to promote "Smart Growth" and "sustainable living" at the expense of local control of land use decisions and private property rights.

However, others noted that the regional planning commissions provide useful information and valuable services to municipal land use boards. Warren Hutchins, chairman of the Laconia Planning Board and a member of the Lakes Region Planning Commission, said that the city along with the other 29 municipalities belonging to the commission urged the committee to reject the bill. Members of the committee pointed out that the bill was unnecessary since municipalities are not compelled to contribute to the work of the regional planning commissions. Likewise, a section of the bill requiring that members of local planning boards must be elected was also rendered redundant since state law already enables towns to either appoint or elect their planning boards.