* RSA 673:4-a and 673:7
Town officials appoint the members of a heritage commission. The number of members will be between three and seven people, with up to five alternate members. Alternates have full voting powers if sitting in absence or disqualification of a regular member. Members must be residents of the town. Terms are for three years, with staggered initial terms. In determining each member's qualifications, the appointing authority should foremost take into consideration the appointee's demonstrated interest and ability to understand, appreciate, and promote the purpose of the heritage commission. One member must be a selectman, and one should be a member of the planning board. Ideally, some of the remaining slots are filled by citizens with experience in construction, architecture, or local history.
Powers and Duties
* RSA 674:44-b
The range of powers and duties of a particular heritage commission is stated in its ordinance and amplified by its regulations, if applicable. Neither the municipality nor the heritage commission can extend its powers beyond those outlined in the statute as follows:
Survey and inventory historical and cultural resources
Conduct research and publish findings
Assist the planning board, as requested, in the development and review of those sections of the master plan which address historical and cultural resources
Advise, upon request, local agencies and other local boards in their review of requests on matters affecting or potentially affecting historical and cultural resources
Coordinate activities with appropriate service organizations and nonprofit groups
Publicize its activities
Hire consultants and contractors as needed
Receive gifts of money and property, both real and personal, in the name of the city or town, subject to the approval of the city council in a city, or the board of selectmen in a town, such gifts to be managed and controlled by the commission for its proper purposes
Hold meetings and hearings necessary to carry out its duties
As a resource to assist local boards & commissions, here are some possibilities:
A heritage commission is uniquely suited to advise local agencies and boards on matters that might affect historical or cultural resources. One of its purposes is to serve as steward for all such resources within the community. For instance, the planning board can consult with the heritage commission if it is reviewing a project that might impact a historic building, or the conservation commission might seek background data on a farm building associated with land it is trying to conserve. The commission could testify in support of a variance before the zoning board of adjustment, if the outcome would preserve a significant resource and retain the spirit of the ordinance. The board of selectmen might seek input when it needs to develop a work program for renovating or disposing of a civic structure. By working closely with other arms of local government, the community can avoid unnecessary adverse impacts to significant historical resources. An early consultation with the commission will often prevent a crisis situation later.