On July 1, 1973 the Current Use Law became effective in New Hampshire. The Current Use law was designed to keep New Hampshire’s rural character in tact while allowing owner’s to use the land quoting from the preamble to the law itself: “It is hereby declared to be in the public interest to encourage preservation of open space, thus providing a healthful and attractive outdoor environment for work and recreation of the state’s citizen’s, maintaining the character of the state’s landscape, and conserving the land, water, forest, agricultural and wildlife resources.”
The effect of the Current Use law has been to provide a lower tax rate on larger tracts of land so that property owners would not be forced to subdivide and sell off their property in order to cope with large property tax bills. By keeping land in an undeveloped condition family farms have been preserved as well as woodlands, wet lands and other tracts that might well have been lost over the last thirty-nine years.
Over half on the land in New Hampshireis enrolled in the Current Use program and it has been the foundation of the State of New Hampshireprivate property based land conservation program.
The following are characteristics of the State of New Hampshire’s Current Use Program:
Generally speaking a parcel must be of at least ten acres, exceptions to this are wetlands of any size, tree farms of any size and parcels of less than ten acres that produce more than $2,500 in agricultural products. Open undeveloped land that is less than ten acres as well as any area covered by buildings does not qualify for Current Use.
If an owner acquires abutting parcels of less than ten acres the additional parcels can be added and would qualify for Current Use or if an owner has a number of abutting parcels of less than ten acres each but the entire contiguous amount owned is ten or more acres then the property is eligible for Current Use.
What is a contiguous parcel? Contiguous parcels under the Current Use Law are defined by the NHSPACE.org website as “more than one parcel of land, which is connected, even if a highway, rail bed, river or water body divides it. This means land that touches any of your property boundaries, or is across the road or on the other side of a pond, stream or river, on both sides of railroad tracks, or across a political boundary.”
If a property owner enrolls his property in Current Use it does not mean his land is now “Open to the Public”. When a property owner enrolls his property in Current Use it is still private property – remember the focus of this law has been keeping New Hampshirelarge undeveloped tracts in private hands – the property owner still has the right to determine how his property will be used just as he would if it were not in Current Use.
For more details on New Hampshire’s Current Use Law visit NHSPACE.org
By Dick Thackston CRB, ABR, ABRM
Broker NH, MA & VT