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Release Date: 04/21/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042) Cliff Sinnott, Rockingham Planning Commission (603-778-0885) Mark Sinclair, Conservation Law Foundation (802-223-5992)

BOSTON - A project aimed at managing growth in Rockingham and Strafford counties and another to promote train travel in New Hampshire were among three New England projects selected this week to receive a total of $420,125 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These grants were among 27 projects chosen nationwide from about 1,000 applicants to receive funding through EPA's Sustainable Development Challenge Grant Program.

The Rockingham Planning Commission and the Strafford Planning Commission were chosen to receive $96,000 for their project called "Regional and Community Planning for Sustainable Development." The grant will help the commissions develop a regional framework to protect the environment of New Hampshire's seacoast communities by incorporating constructive alternatives to conventional zoning and planning practices that promote sprawl and unmanaged development.

The Northern New England Rail Action Project, which received a $200,000 grant, will also benefit the state of New Hampshire. This award, given to the Conservation Law Foundation, will help protect regional air quality through planning and public education around expansion of a regional rail network in northern New England.

"As communities grow and change, they face the challenge of trying to preserve their natural resources and character at the same time they boost their local economy," said Mindy S. Lubber, Regional Administrator for EPA New England. "This project in the booming southeast of New Hampshire aims to do that with new ideas for zoning and planning."

"This Sustainable Challenge Grant will provide us with the opportunity to work one-on-one with our communities to create and implement practical alternatives to conventional planning and zoning regulations that are designed to bring about a more sustainable development pattern in the region," said Cliff Sinnott, executive director of the Rockingham Planning Commission.

"The Sustainable Development Challenge Grant provides us with two great opportunities: to examine the development policies within all the communities in the Seacoast area; and to implement the work of the NH Comparative Risk Project's Minimum Impact Development grant from EPA," said Cynthia Copeland, executive director of the Strafford Regional Planning Commission. "The two regional planning commissions will integrate this project with other work we are doing with the NH Estuaries Program, all of which works together to keep the Seacoast area of New Hampshire a wonderful place to live and work. We look forward to being an active partner with Region 1 EPA and our communities - providing regional approaches through local choices."

"There is renewed interest from northern communities and our New England congressional delegation in revitalizing our regional rail system as a viable transportation alternative," said Nancy L. Girard, director of the Conservation Law Foundation's New Hampshire Advocacy Center. "CLF believes this momentum timed with EPA's sustainable development grant, provides options to extend the public's investment in our transportation infrastructure, improve air quality and reduce congestion. Northern New England has the capacity to reinvest in its dormant rail system and bring opportunity to its communities and businesses as well as protection to the region's environment."

The third grant for $124,125 was awarded to the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Affairs for a project to develop plans and guidelines for addressing sprawl "hot spots" along the state's interstate exchanges.

Last year a public-private partnership led by the Concord-based New Hampshire Comparative Risk Project received a $117,000 Sustainable Development Challenge Grant for its project called "Living Free, Developing Sustainably - Minimum Impact Development in New Hampshire."