New Hampshire Coastal Resilience Incentive Zone Program for Municipalities

In 2017, New Hampshire passed a new law, New Hampshire Revised Statutes § 79-E:4-a, that enables municipalities to create a tax incentive program to encourage resiliency in coastal areas. Municipalities can establish “Coastal Resilience Incentive Zones” (CRIZ) in their jurisdictions to grant property owners tax relief for undertaking “resilience measures” for qualified properties or structures identified as impacted by storm surge, sea-level rise, or extreme precipitation projections. Tax relief in this case means that property taxes will not increase for the cost of any property or structural improvements during the period of eligibility set by the municipality (which, barring exceptions, can be for a maximum of five years). The statute also allows municipalities to provide “other relief” to properties subject to repeated flooding by acquiring easements for the purpose of land preservation or water control or establishing tax increment financing districts. This statutory provision builds off a recommendation in the New Hampshire Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission’s 2016 report, Preparing New Hampshire for Projected Storm Surge, Sea-Level Rise, and Extreme Precipitation, that called for the state to reduce coastal vulnerability and adapt for future hazards.

In implementing a CRIZ program, the statute states that resilience measures can include actions such as elevating structures and mechanical systems, freeboard renovations, constructing natural features, enhancing or creating tidal marshes or structures that enable increased water flow and post-storm surge water infiltration, and relocation of property to higher elevations on the same or to another parcel within the same municipality. Regardless, each municipality has discretion to determine its own list of resiliency measures.

Tax relief is decided on a project-by-project-basis through a local public hearing process. In addition to tax relief, the statute also allows municipalities to create capital reserve or trust funds (i.e., capital improvement or land acquisition funds under state law) that can support projected municipal costs associated with storm surge, sea-level rise, and extreme precipitation.

This statutory provision was included under the state’s broader Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive Program that similarly provides tax relief for the rehabilitation (or if necessary, replacement) of historical structures in order to further a “public benefit,” like economic vitality or historical or cultural preservation. Senator David Watters introduced the law as Senate Bill 185, which had bipartisan support, and it was signed by Governor Chris Sununu.

Publication Date: September 3, 2017

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  • State of New Hampshire

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