Welcome to Deerfield’s first Open Space Plan (OSP):
This draft has been posted to the Town of Deerfield website so that citizens may read it and provide comments. The first 40 pages contain 8 chapters, followed by 12 appendices with additional information. This OSP provides both Deerfield-specific information and more general data about the costs of low density single use development, along with the economic, social, health, and ecological benefits of maintaining sufficient open space in the Town. The OSP is a guide to document the need and suggest strategies for maintaining a functioning network of open lands. It is also intended to help to identify, prioritize, and protect the Town’s remaining open spaces. The two main avenues to do so are (a) land protection, and (b) changes in planning and zoning regulations.
How did this Plan come to be?
In February 2002, the Deerfield Open Space Committee (DOSC) proposed a Vision for Deerfield’s Future: “A Deerfield with sustaining rural character, where homes and businesses, services, and recreational opportunities are set within a functioning network of wild lands, managed forests, and working farms.” In April 2005, Southern NH Planning Commission obtained a $7,200 grant from NH Dept. of Environmental Services to help the Town prepare a plan to accomplish that vision, because Deerfield and Chester were the only two of the 13 communities in the region without such a plan. The OSP also builds on three years of DOSC work (summarized in the Community Conservation Assistance Program Work Plan in Appendix D)
Why do we need this Plan?
Between 1990 and 2003, Deerfield grew from a population of 3,124 to 4,151, an increase of 33%, and is projected to increase another 25%to 5,204 by 2015 (NH OEP). This does not include additional growth resulting from the widening of Interstate 93. The development from this growth threatens the rural character and the open space of the town. Open space has economic, social, health, recreational, and environmental benefits; and this plan will help to maximize those benefits while helping to shape growth.
What are the Goals of the Plan?
The challenge for Deerfield is to balance the need for continued development opportunities with the broadly supported desire to attain the Vision above, thereby retaining the quality of life and recognizable Deerfield character that keeps old-timers here and attracts new residents. To do so, the Plan identifies four major goals:
- Implement COST-EFFECTIVE means to preserve land to have the greatest overall tax and revenue benefits for Deerfield citizens.
- Establish development and subdivision zoning REGULATIONS AND ORDINANCES for Deerfield to encourage smart growth, preserve open space, and make the Town economically sustainable.
- Prioritize the CRITERIA the Conservation Committee/Town of Deerfield/Planning Board will use when considering potential lands for open space preservation.
- EDUCATE the residents of Deerfield about the multiple economic, health, ecological, and recreational benefits of open space.
How will we attain those goals?
Section 8 identifies a multi-part strategy for voluntary, regulatory and financial practices, and the start of an Action Plan. The 2005-06 Natural Resource Outreach Coalition (NROC), a group of agencies that support natural resource planning and protection, is working with residents to further develop the Action Plan. The OSP also provides answers to many common questions about conservation easements, conservation subdivisions, taxes on open space lands, and much more.
What lands are involved in this Plan?
Sections 6 and 7 of the OSP identify specific areas of Deerfield that have special value, with explanations of how the areas were prioritized.