Hanover’s Rural Study Group

A Process Analysis with Recommendations
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 0708-06
Thursday, May 29, 2008

With continuing population growth and changing land use patterns, rural character has become an important topic of interest for the Town of Hanover. Hanover residents have overwhelmingly responded that preserving the rural character of the town is important, and since 1974 the town has released reports to define just what rural character is. Land use and development patterns, and their effects on rural character, are therefore of interest to many Hanover residents.

In May 2007 the Hanover Planning Board launched the Rural Study Group "to focus on the natural resource underpinnings of future land use and regulation in rural Hanover within the context of the 2003 Master Plan." While many groups had existed previously to study rural character in Hanover, this was the first group to study it specifically in context of the new master plan.

Composed of interested citizens and Planning Board staff, the Rural Study Group met regularly through January 2008. A public workshop held on January 15, 2008 revealed discord within the larger community over both the process and implications of reviewing rural zoning. Further activity on the part of the Rural Study Group was postponed until at least after the 13 May 2008 Town Meeting.

This Rockefeller Center Policy Research Shop report seeks to provide recommendations for how the process of review for formal mechanisms to protect rural character can best operate and address the needs of relevant stakeholders. We conducted a series of phone interviews using a standard questionnaire to examine the issues of stakeholder representation and general clarity of procedure in the Rural Study Group. The respondents have been kept anonymous.