Hampton Beach Master Plan: Infrastructure and Public Facilities Recommendations
The water and sewer systems of the Hampton Beach area may need significant improvements depending on the amount of development in the main commercial areas, and to some extent, the level of demand from houses that are converted to year-round units. Public services including police and fire protection also have specific needs, mainly adequate buildings to support their operations. Utilities such as electric and telecommunications currently meet the needs of the users, and generally are upgraded on an as needed basis. This section proposes strategies and recommendations that range from continuing with proposed infrastructure improvements to making major investments in water and sewer projects.
Strategy 1. Provide adequate public facilities to support the needs and operations of the police and fire departments.
Public facilities should support the needs of residents, visitors, property owners, and those who work in the area. As an extremely popular summer resort, the Town and State should maintain an image that lets people know they are safe and can access medical and police services as necessary. Property owners and businesses should also be assured of adequate police and fire protection, and the town’s enforcement of building codes and ordinances.
Strategy 2. Continue implementing plans to upgrade the water, sewer, and stormwater systems so that public facilities are on line as necessary and reduce flooding and improve water quality.
This strategy focuses on long-term plans for the overall improvement of the area’s water, sewer, and drainage infrastructure. The area is already built out, and the responsible agency will need to replace existing water and sewer mains. Adequate timing and scheduling of construction of this infrastructure should also be coordinated among various town departments.
Since more and more areas are being covered with impervious surfaces, the zoning and subdivision ordinances should be changed to help minimize the impacts of increased runoff. Examples of methods to help reduce flooding and improve water quality include improving storm drain structures and imposing limits on the number of impervious surfaces such as paved driveways.
Strategy 3. Link investments and plans for water and sewer systems to the capital improvement programs as part of land use and development policies.
Redevelopment and revitalization of the Hampton Beach area may require upgrades to the sewer and water systems. Both these systems have long-term capital improvement programs that would accommodate anticipated growth. Policies that affect the needs of these systems, such as a low-flow water fixture program, should be linked and coordinated with the development needs of public services.
The Hampton Water Works Company has an ongoing program to improve both the supply and distribution of water. Plans for new connections should be linked as part of the implementation and management of this Plan and other project improvements.
The sewer system is comprised mainly of two types of infrastructure: (1) the streets and associated pipes; and (2) the treatment plant, which has capacity to handle increased flows. Investments in facilities that significantly increase sewer flows to Hampton Beach should be identified in the early planning stages to ensure additional capacity over the long term.
The treatment facility current discharges its treated sewer into an un-named tributary of Tide Mill Creek that is connected to Hampton River. The town is currently weighing three options for improving water quality in response to license requirements set forth by the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System.
- Recycle gray water back into the Hampton Water Works treatment and filtration process to be distributed ultimately as drinking water.
- Dump the treated wastewater directly into the ocean via an extended discharge outfall pipe.
- Add separation equipment to the plant’s processing equipment and discharge the treated wastewater into Tide Mill Creek.
Furthermore, other state agencies such as the NH Coastal Program are discussing impacts, costs, and benefits of this issue. Regardless of the final option, water quality should be improved, and the changes to the wastewater system should be upgrade to accommodate additional load, if any, due to expansion and redevelopment of Hampton Beach.
The following section provides more details about specific recommendations within the strategies.
Strategy 4: Rehabilitate and enhance the State Marina with upgraded facilities for both commercial fishermen and recreational users.
The State Marina provides a variety of facilities for both commercial fishermen and recreational boaters. However, to ensure a long-term, sustained use of this resource that takes full advantage of the marina’s assets, a more coordinated management effort must address physical and institutional constraints. Any future planning and improvement to the marina should be undertaken in conjunction with the State Park and the southern Gateway to the Hampton Beach area.
Specific recommendations for this strategy include the following:
- Establish a Harbor Advisory Group.
- Undertake a comprehensive harbor management plan that includes the Town of Seabrook and other state and federal stakeholders.
- Implement capital improvements to the marina.
Police and Fire
Police protection and the safety of residents and visitors to the Hampton Beach area is a top priority for the Hampton Police Department. To maintain adequate police protection, the Department is currently planning to replace the old police building with a larger station in the same area at the intersection of Brown and Ashworth Avenue and the adjacent town parking lot.
Current building plans, however, would reduce the number of town parking spaces from approximately 600 to fewer than 200 spaces. As the town nets over $200,000 per year from this lot, a reduction in available parking spaces would most certainly reduce these revenues. The town should reconsider plans for use of this lot for two reasons:
- Loss of yearly parking revenue for the town
- Loss of potential use of the lot for future development that could be part of a larger development with other adjacent lots (see Land Use).
The Fire Department provides fire and medical service for the Hampton Beach area as well as other parts of the town. A new station would help improve these services, especially during peak demand times. This Department has identified the present location, the exact lot to be determined, near Brown and Ashworth Avenues as the best location to build a new station.
The police and fire departments have decided to maintain separate facilities. However, it would be economical from a land-use perspective to combine the facilities since there is minimal amount of developable land in this area.
Several other recommendations include the following:
- Provide an improved medical facility to meet demands of the larger summer population.
- Provide adequate signage that directs those who need police, fire, and medical attention.
- Ensure water supplies meet the needs of the fire department.
- Reduce congestion along the streets to ensure fire and police vehicles can access incidents as needed.
- Ensure buildings meet fire codes and setback requirements to increase fire safety measures.
Sewer Collection System
The sewer systems in the Hampton Beach area are owned and operated by the Town of Hampton. The system is installed in roads, under buildings, and through private property. The Town makes periodic replacement of old pipes as problems are detected. Although some of the pipes are cleaned during the year, they still have problems with grease and sand infiltration.
The Town does not have a sewer pipe replacement program for the Hampton Beach area. However, the Town identified sewers lines, interceptors, and tributaries in need of replacement along Ashworth Avenue as part of the 201 Facilities Plan. The Town should implement these plans to achieve the following:
- Provide capacity for future improvements.
- Complete an infiltration and inflow study, and then take steps to reduce the sources of infiltration and inflow.
- Eliminate problem sewers.
Construction should begin after the summer season when there is generally the least amount of flooding and be finished before the beginning of the summer season when the beach area becomes heavily populated. The Hampton Public Works Department should conduct an infiltration and inflow (I/I) study to prioritize the areas that need replacement before plans are made for replacing pipes and pumps. Any digging of streets should also be coordinated with other improvements such as water lines and streetscapes.
The Town is currently replacing a section of sewer main as part of the Highland Avenue reconstruction. A new 18-inch pipe is scheduled to replace a pumping station along King’s Highway.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
The treatment plant discharges treated wastewater into a tributary of the Tide Mill Creek, which discharges into the Hampton River. The plant uses an activated sludge process. Its capacity is expected to increase to 4.5 million gallons per day (mgd) as of June 2001.
The highest wastewater loads occur during the summer months. Although there has been an increasing amount of seasonal to year-round home conversions in the Hampton Beach area, this trend is not expected to increase wastewater flows to the system significantly. However, changes in the amount of wastewater flow to the system depend on the type of uses that occur. Families with children generally produce higher wastewater flows than those without children, such as retirees. Families also generally prefer single-family homes. Should there be many conversions of apartments to condominiums, there would probably not be any substantial increase in wastewater. On the other hand, conversion of seasonal residences to year-round homes may increase the number of families and correspondingly increase wastewater flows.
The Town may need to assess current wastewater flows from Hampton Beach and determine the potential buildout of the area and resulting flows. Based on these results, the Town would have to respond with several actions that range from increasing plant capacity to instituting programs that educate users about reducing flows and use low-flow fixtures.
The stormwater system was built over the past 100 years. As new development was built, storm drains were added to reduce flooding, especially in low-lying areas. Flooding issues continue to plague this area, especially during high storm tides when stormwater cannot discharge from upland areas.
The recent replacement of a tide gate along Winnacunnet Road will help reduce flooding in the area. Currently, the Town is reconstructing the tide gate that crosses under Highland Avenue.
This stormwater drainage system needs to be thoroughly mapped so it can be used as an aid to detect additional flooding issues. The Town, with assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State Office of Emergency Management, is currently pursuing a number of structural and regulatory actions to better manage and mitigate flood hazards. The Town should continue with these efforts as well as ensure funding is maintained to support the program requirements. Other actions as part of this strategy include the following:
- Implementation of the Town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Adoption of a stronger Floodplain Management Ordinance
- Work with owners of repetitive property loss from flooding
- Use best management practices (BMPs) for new development.
The same water distribution system supplies all the public and private facilities in the Hampton Beach area. This system, which is investor-owned and operated by the Hampton Water Works Company (HWWC), supports current demand at normal times. However, supply is sometimes inadequate during peak demand. HWWC is currently addressing this problem. Redevelopment of the different parts of this area is not expected to require major upgrades.
Should a large development or a new connection be needed, the project cost would be determined on a case-by-case basis and may be negotiated between the developer and the HWWC. Although the State of New Hampshire currently has a moratorium on new water connections to new developments, this applies only to new multi-family units and subdivisions, and should not affect the redevelopment and revitalization of the Hampton Beach area.
HWWC is currently replacing 2,000 feet of an old, 8-inch water main with a new, 16-inch water main along Highland Avenue. Additional redevelopment of the water lines along the beach will likely occur at a similar cost to the water system. This project is part of the company’s long-term management program and the Town’s project to improve the tidal floodwaters and roadway along Highland Avenue.
New water infrastructure may "piggyback" and be timed with other projects that require digging up the streets, such as new gas and sewer lines, or storm drains and tidal gates. Any development should be coordinated with other streetscape improvements.
The peak demand for water generally occurs when water sources are at the lowest, usually during the months of July and August. To ensure adequate water supplies for the Hampton Beach area, HWWC initiated a water-supply management program that aims to improve the recharge and sustainability of it groundwater sources. HWWC also has plans for water conservation measures such as retrofits for low-flow water fixtures in area building and a public education program to promote irrigation reduction.
As part of this Plan, we highly recommend that the Town institute a program that provides incentives for replacing old water fixtures with new low-flow fixtures. Although the Town’s building codes specify that low-flow fixture replace old ones whenever a homeowner purchases a new one, old ones may remain in use for many years. To speed up the replacement of old fixtures and reduce the demand for water, a new incentive program could set target dates to install all the old fixtures in the Hampton Beach area. This program would benefit both the water system by reducing demand and the sewer system by reducing flows.
The water supply comes from groundwater sources located in the towns of Hampton, North Hampton, Rye, and Stratham. A line for emergency uses is connected from Salisbury, Massachusetts through Seabrook, NH. To improve supply from these and other towns, regionalization of the supply is recommended. This would involve connections to other public water supply systems in towns such as Rye, Portsmouth, Exeter, or Durham. It would also require these local governments to establish cooperative agreements with HWWC. NH DES also supports this concept.
Telephone and Communications
Telephone service to the area is adequate and will be upgraded on an as needed basis. However, cell phone reception to this area is inadequate according to residents and other business officials in the area. The Rockingham Regional Planning Commission also identified this deficiency. The Town should work with the local cell phone providers to rectify this problem.
Electric service is provided by the Exeter and Hampton Electric Company (Unitil). There is sufficient capacity to support additional loads over the next several years based on current trends. The lighting along the boulevard and adjacent area should be upgraded. Depending on the location of the lights, either the Town or the State would pay for the costs of specialized lights.
Baystate Gas and Northern Utilities Company provide gas service to the Hampton Beach area. As part of a long-term strategy, additional capacity would be needed if there were more incremental developments such as seasonal to year-round housing conversions.
Stormwater and Flooding
The Hampton Beach area will continue to be subject to flooding from sea-level rise, heavy rains, tidal events, and severe storms. Almost all of the study area is within the flood hazard area as defined by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In the past, the state and the Town looked to structural solutions to alleviate this problem. The town has recently prepared a Flood Mitigation Plan that has a number of specific recommendations to ameliorate the impact of flooding in the Town and the Hampton Beach area. At present, the Town with the assistance of FEMA and the state OEM (Office of Emergency Management) is pursuing a number of actions recommended in the plan—structural, regulatory and non-regulatory—to better manage and mitigate flood hazards.
NH DES is currently assessing the impacts of sea level rise on the coast, which is expected to rise approximately 1 foot every 100 years. The resultant storm surge and waves, and inundation into low-lying areas are cause for long-term protection and planning. Hazard mitigation planning will have to incorporate regulations and polices that reduce these impacts and hazards.
The following recommendations will help manage floods and storms, and reduce impacts from them.
Flood hazard mitigation
- Adopt a stronger Floodplain Management Ordinance based on the 1986 FIRM map prepared by FEMA and the recommendations in the Town of Hampton’s Flood Mitigation Plan. Such actions include the following:
- Review the allowed uses in the Flood Hazard area to incorporate uses that are compatible with flooding conditions, including recreational parklands, open space buffer areas, wildlife habitat and nature areas, agriculture, movable living or storage facilities and parking fields.
- Include a Statement of Purpose in the Flood Hazard Ordinance which states that the ordinance is designed to promote the free flow of flood waters in the floodway and adjacent areas by limiting or even prohibiting development in the flood hazard area.
- Include a provision that new or expanded existing infrastructure shall not be allowed in the FEMA designated A or V zones unless there is an exceptional public benefit and that such infrastructure will not promote or encourage new growth or development in these areas.
- Reduce the lot coverage requirement in the special flood hazard area from 85 percent to 35 percent.
- Limit the height of any building so as not to exceed 50 feet above the mean sea level in height.
- Establish a zero rise in flood elevation as a threshold for any development.
- Adopt the most current version of the BOCA building code as it relates to structures built or substantially improved in the floodplain area.
- Modify the definition of substantial improvement in the floodplain overlay district by reducing the percentage of the market value from 50 to 25 percent or by defining a specific amount of improvement that triggers floodplain review.
- Implement the recommendations of the Town’s Flood Mitigation Plan, adopted in June of 2000. These include the following:
- Improve the drainage system of the Meadow Pond; Gill Street/Redman Lane area.
- Re-design Kings Highway and associated tide gates and coordinate with Meadow Pond drainage system.
- Replace/reconstruct police and fire stations to FEMA standards.
- Improve drainage and consider flood proofing and structure elevation for properties at lower end of High Street; from Mill Pond Lane to Kings Highway.
- Re-design and raise Island Path/Glade Path roadways.
- Elevate structures and flood proof structures on Great Boar’s Head.
- Undertake a variety of flood mitigation measures for the "Island Area" along the Ocean Boulevard area north of harbor to the Seashell, including flood proofing and re-vegetation.
- Undertake a variety of flood mitigation measures, including flood proofing, elevation of structures, re-vegetation, and purchase of development rights for the area from Hampton Harbor and north of the Route 1A bridge to the Casino east of Ocean Boulevard.
- Continue to work with landowners with repetitive property loss from flooding and storms as identified in the Flood Mitigation Plan to determine what actions might be taken to mitigate future flood damage. Such actions might include elevation of structures, grants or loans for flood proofing, relocation or acquisition.
- Based on the findings of the Town’s Flood Mitigation Plan, pursue and implement a comprehensive, action specific, flood and storm management strategy that includes the following measures:
- Structural actions including the existing seawall maintenance and enhancement.
- Open space protection through the acquisition of land within the flood prone portions of the Town as well as continued protection of the tidal marsh. See also similar recommendations in the Natural and Marine Environment Section.
- Dune and beach maintenance through programs of beach nourishment particularly from the dredging of Seabrook and Hampton Harbors. See also the dune management recommendation in the Environmental section.
- Educational programs that provide appropriate information to citizens and landholders in flood prone zones about the issue of flooding and the measures that can be taken to mitigate such a hazard.
- Property protection using seawalls, flood proofing, and elevation of structures.
- Emergency measures for individuals and the community to ensure a coordinated reaction to any serious flood situation.
- Investigate the potential for a Transfer of Development Rights program for properties in the Floodplain Overlay District.
- Establish a program for routine cleaning and maintenance (such as twice annually) of stormwater structures (e.g., catch basins), parking lots and street infrastructure (e.g., culverts) to minimize sedimentation to the marsh and estuary.
- Implement the stormwater improvement project as proposed by the NH Coastal Program and NH DES for the Town parking lot at Brown and Ashworth Avenues.
- Undertake a stormwater infrastructure study in the beach area to determine the feasibility of upgrading the stormwater system and/or enhancing it to provide a greater level of sediment and pollutant removal.
Sea-level Rise Management
- Inform the community of Hampton about the impacts of sea-level rise including costs, post-disaster plans, development alternatives, shoreline changes, changes in property values, and risks. This should be conducted before policies are formulated in order for property owners to understand how they may be affected. For example, property owners may base their decision to purchase, build, or rebuild a property on whether the government was going to stabilize the shoreline.
- Continue involvement with NH DES sea-level rise study to identify and prioritize storm, wave, and flood impact areas due to increasing sea levels.
- The State should monitor beach and shoreline profiles to identify areas of increased change, risk, and loss of property. The Town should work with property owners to review riparian rights along the shoreline, and identify options for property retention and minimizing risk.
- Work with FEMA, Hampton Building Department, Hampton Planning Board, and the Hampton Conservation Commission to establish more stringent flood and storm control methods and requirements. For example, the Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan sets performance standards for buildings and restricts enlargement of buildings in the FEMA V flood zones (areas of high wave potential).