Pre-meeting summary


For members to know, presented by LC Leader Darrien:

  • Nashua Strong Towns LC Leaders will be presenting Complete Streets to the Board of Aldermen April 9 between 7:00-7:30PM
    • This is all possible thanks to the strong support we have received from our members over the last few months
    • We’d love to have you there to show support!
    • This is the next and most critical step to getting a Complete Streets policy in Nashua
  • We’ll be at the Nashua Library’s Sustainability Fair April 20th
    • If any members have ideas on activities, send them to our main contact email:
    • If any members are interested in helping out at the table (showing up for an hour, baking snacks, etc.) reach out to our main contact email and we’ll sign you up to be there!
    • The Sustainability Fair is a great opportunity to do outreach to the public to explain the importance of zoning and walkable cities!
  • Join our Slack for more!
    • If you’re in chatting more directly with our members, send an email to our main email and we’ll add you to the Slack!
    • It’s a good opportunity for fun, and keeping in touch with other folks in our Local Conversation


We recently had our Nashua Strong Towns meeting around Nashua re-CODE. A plan for a new form based zoning code in Nashua that is going for public input right now. Nashua re-CODE and an updated form based zoning code is the next step for our Strong Towns Local Conversation with an ambitious goal of getting passed by 2025!

We had Sam Durfee, town planning manager to present on the plan and show what the town is thinking.

Below is the summary of the presentation paraphrased and with a bit of our takes on the plan.

Why a zoning revamp?

A zoning revamp is needed in Nashua for two main reasons:

  • Areas zoned near downtown are out of compliance
  • As downtown continues to develop, we want to shape the vision of it to be more walkable.

Zoning is out of compliance

Many neighborhoods in Nashua are out of compliance, especially areas near downtown. These are areas that were built before there were significant zoning laws, or when there were significantly laxer zoning laws. The current zoning laws do not reflect the reality of the area and significantly restrict the freedom of folks in the area.

Basically any modifications to housing in the area requires going to the planning board which takes significant time and resources. In many cases the request will be denied as well.

These restrictions put significant burdens on the residents of these areas, meaning whether a resident wants an ADU, or a shed in their backyard, it isn’t allowed.

Making downtown more walkable

Nashua downtown has been making significant strides towards becoming more walkable. With a boom of new businesses and housing springing up downtown, it is practically bustling compared to just 10 or 20 years ago.

Zoning in the area was opened up (D1/MU) to allow for all forms of development. This has been an incredible boon to the downtown. Now that there is significant more development downtown, it is time to use zoning to shape downtown a little more, pushing it to have more walkable features, and making it more of a place to go to, not just a place to go through.

How could the zoning revamp look?

The city of Nashua is considering (see – taking public input) for a hybrid form based zoning code. Right now we use strict euclidean zoning in Nashua (like the most of America).

  • Euclidean zoning: Use cases and forms are strictly regulated, ensuring strong separation of commercial, residential, and industrial areas.
  • Form based zoning code: Form is regulated, but use case is not. Ensuring that nearby structures look similar to each other, but that they can be used for whatever the owner(s) decide.

A hybrid form based zoning code is a form based zoning code with minor regulations around use case (e.g. no asphalt plant), but in general providing significantly more freedom to residents. Depending on how the code is written, if a building owner or resident wanted to take their property and make it a multifamily house, open a coffee shop, pizza shop, or general store while retaining the same form it would be legal.

On Main Street these freedoms already exist, and so what could potentially change are carrot and stick measures to push for a more walkable and beautiful downtown. An example of ensuring walkability being: density caps being added downtown unless bike parking is provided. An example of ensuring downtown stays beautiful is ensuring that new structures are externally more similar to the historical districts they are near. 

Form based zoning code scope

The current considered scope of the form based zoning code is pretty large. All of Nashua will be affected, but major changes will be coming to not just downtown, but other major corridors in Nashua. Sourced from the Nashua re-CODE website:

For corridors outside Main Street the potential for lifted regulations is huge, providing a chance for both more density and significantly more freedoms for residents. Additionally they would move Nashua to be a more financially solvent, profitable, and flourishing town than it is not.

It’s time for public comment

The Nashua re-CODE site lists a number of times where the public is allowed to come for comment. If any of this sounds interesting to you, it is critical you come to one, or some of these meetings. None of these changes are guaranteed, and what form the form based zoning code takes will depend on what the public says. We strongly recommend taking some time going to go to at least one of these meetings to give input to make Nashua more walkable and have a more inclusionary zoning code.

All details can be found on the Upcoming Events portion of the Nashua re-CODE site. Events are happening around many different parts of each of the days of March 11-16. These changes go hand in hand with a Complete Streets policy and will help to make Nashua more walkable and beautiful.


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