THE RYE MASTER PLAN
The current Rye Master Plan was adopted on May 8, 2007 and was amended on November 10, 2009 to include a section on Workforce Housing. It is currently being revised by the Planning Board with public input. The Master Plan is a public record subject to the provisions of RSA 91-A. A Town’s Master Plan is subject to the RSAs which provide that it should be a guide to the future, a reference document, a summary of local action and a source of information. RSA 674:2 The current document has synthesized the citizens’ wishes, as expressed through the 2002 Rye Opinion Survey, the input of community interest groups, three public visioning sessions held in 2004 and 2005, expertise provided by the Rockingham County Planning Commission, and ongoing review of Warrant Articles passed since the Master Plan was enacted and amended.
The Master Plan provides a long term vision of Rye’s growth and development over time. It contains a set of guiding principles and priorities to implement that Vision. RSA 674:2. Under New Hampshire law, the Master Plan, developed and updated under the auspices of the Planning Board, guides and governs the members of the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment in their deliberations to decide “the best and most appropriate future development of our community” consistent with the vision the citizens of Rye have for their community. RSA 674:2. The Rye Master Plan has been specifically crafted to provide a broader vision for other town civic organizations and decision makers, in addition to the land use boards, to further the Plan’s unified goals. These are in the form of a Vision Statement and a Land Use Section.
The Primary Purpose of a Master Plan is
- To envision the best and most appropriate future development of our community,
- To aid our Planning Board in designing ordinances,
- To guide our Planning Board in performance of duties to achieve principles of smart growth, sound planning, and wise resource management,
- To establish statements of land use and development principles and
- To establish legal standing for implementation of ordinances and other measures of our Planning Board.
An effect of the Master Plan is involving the citizenry in the process of Community Planning. The Vision for Rye, encompassed in the Rye Master Plan document, is characterized by
respect for neighbors, for the common good, and for the natural environment. Land use policies are to be fair by supporting balances of choice, convenience, safety, security, conservation, and a sense of community.
Land development will be in compliance with all New Hampshire land use laws. The reward for adherence to the policies is a beautiful place, comprised of an active, empowered citizenry working for the well-being of the community. As stated in the document: “The desires to see the Town of Rye altered are few.” The Plan’s Vision is “to protect, preserve, and reinforce the character and integrity of the Town of Rye.”
The Vision for Rye is supported by continuous reassessment of what is being accomplished to assure protection of its semi-rural coastal character by preserving open space and coastal resources and by managing Rye’s growth.
Rye’s Master Plan focuses on six aspects of community activity: 1. land use,
2. housing (specifically workforce housing), 3. transportation, 4. natural resources,
- civic life, and 6. municipal services. Each of these aspects is extensively considered based on the demographic background and the input of the citizens and town government. Current issues which need attention are identified and resolutions are proposed. Some highlights of plans going forward are:
Housing. It is the intent that the Town of Rye will retain a semi-rural character. It is recognized that this will require changes in the zoning ordinance, especially in view of the requirements of the December 2009 State laws enacted regarding workforce housing. This process is under way. Transportation. It is envisioned that to facilitate efficiency, there will be new alternatives for adults, seniors, and the disabled; and children will increasingly walk and bicycle to school.
Natural Resources. The following are identified as critically important to the Town of Rye: beaches, water provision, wastewater management, scenic resources, woodlands, wet lands, open spaces, and wildlife. Management of the resources will be directed to maintenance of the open and rural character of the town.
The quality of civic life. The Town of Rye is envisioned to include increased cultural and recreational opportunities for the citizens, larger voter turn-outs, increased civic involvement of sufficient degree to provide for waiting lists for membership on town commissions and committees, and enhancement of the out of doors environment through informed stewardship.
Municipal Services. The importance of efficient police and fire services, the Department of Public Works, the Rye Water District, the Recreation Department, and the schools is acknowledged in the Master Plan. Areas of focus include provision of enforcement, safety, and emergency services in a coordinated way, integration of advancing technology, increasing management and human resources, and responsible capital resources and infrastructure stewardship.
Preservation of historic and cultural resources. The pressure of development is exerting itself against the desire to preserve for future generations the sites, structures and landscapes which make the Town of Rye the scenic semi-rural community it is today. The community must be vigilant in its defense and preservation of the architecture and historical fabric which adds harmony to the quality of life in Rye.
It is the intent of the Rye Master Plan to invite the citizenry into the planning process and into greater civic engagement. The Master Plan is available on the Town website: http://town.rye.nh.us. For more information on the Master Plan process, contact the Planning Board.