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Sunapee Town Seal
1998 Master Plan

Adopted November 1998
by the Sunapee Planning Board
Sunapee, New Hampshire

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface Adoption Statement

Section I       General Statement

Section II      Land Use

Section III     Housing

Section IV      Transportation

Section V       Community Facilities/Services

Section VI      Utilities

Section VII     Economic Development

Section VIII    Historic Resources

Section IX      Conservation/Recreation

Section X       Population

Appendix A      Cornerstones

Appendix B      List of Businesses

Appendix C      List of Town Properties

Appendix D      Master Plan Survey


Sunapee, like many New Hampshire towns, has undergone many socio-economic transformations in the last ten years.  When the last Master Plan was written in 1985, Sunapee had just experienced a decade of unparalleled population growth and the region was in the middle of a period of rapid economic growth.

Today, growth of all types can be defined as slow to moderate.  A deep recession in the early 90's brought sky-high property values back down to more realistic levels.  The population boom of the 70's slowed significantly during the 80's.  

The Community Attitudes Survey shows that a majority of the population relishes the small town atmosphere and peace and quiet of Sunapee.  Almost 90% of the respondents favored a population growth rate similar to or slower than the 1.02% per annum during the 80's.

Sunapee is generally considered a residential community with limited retail services or manufacturing.  There is also a large base of seasonal residents who occupy cottages and homes along Sunapee's five major lakes.

Using past growth and present community attitudes as a guideline Sunapee's goals and objectives can be summarized as follows:

Growth - Allow for moderate growth in both residential and light commercial uses.  Growth should be planned in such a way to not only preserve the natural environment but to ensure there will be no adverse impact on municipal services.

Land Use - Provide a land use plan which concentrates housing and the highest intensity of use near municipal facilities (including utilities) and existing community centers.  Encourage low-intensity development in outlying areas.  Long term land use plan should protect both environmental and historic resources while being mindful of the Capital Improvements Program.

Housing - Ensure all housing is safe, adequate, and available to meet the needs of permanent and seasonal residents.

Community Facilities - Provide facilities which will meet the needs of both employees and users.  Provide location and available services, which will be convenient to the majority of residents.  

Transportation - Provide a network of highways and other secondary forms of transportation, such as bike and walking paths, which will serve users in a safe and efficient manner.  Develop management policies for highways, which will recognize maintenance needs based on level of service.

Utilities - Continue expansion of public sewer facilities to areas of Town where existing dwellings are utilizing inadequate septic systems.  Maintain quality service for other public utilities.

Economic Development - Create an atmosphere, through proper planning, which will encourage the expansion of existing businesses within Sunapee and attract new low-impact business into town.

                                            LAND USE


The economic strength and social character of a Town are closely linked to the capability of the land within its borders.  Farmland, lakes, rivers, mountains, mineral deposits and other natural features have all played a role in shaping Sunapee's current land use.  Technological advances allow us to utilize land which was once impossible or impractical to develop, but economic forces place limits on the extent of such development.

In the last 30 years, land use has been guided by a new, more abstract force - environmental regulation.  Federal, State, and Local laws regulate the discharge of chemical and pathogenic  wastes.  The importance of wetlands in the ecological balance has been recognized, hence development which impacts wetlands is tightly regulated.  The premise that intense development near lakes and ponds accelerates the deterioration of water quality has lead to buffer zones and other growth limiting regulations in these areas.

The Master Plan would be meaningless without a comprehensive discussion of the Town's land use.  The following is an overview of existing land use, development trends, land capability, and recommendations for future land use.


The existing use of land in any Town is a blueprint for future growth and development.  Table II-1 is a numerical breakdown of land use by category.  This table has been developed from base information contained in the 1985 Master Plan with updates from Town records.

Each major category of existing land use has been described in detail beginning on page II-3.  This is only a summary and more detailed discussion of each use can be found throughout this Master Plan.

        TABLE II-1

Land Use Category       % of Land Use   Approx. Acres

Residential     10.0    1,400

Commercial                                      .4         50

Industrial                       .1        10

Public Lands                                    1.2      160
        Community Facilities                    .4                 50
        Cemeteries                      .1                 10
        Town Parks      .7                100
Conservation Land       4.8      700

Highways        3.6     500

Power Line Easements     1.2     175

Agriculture      2.9     400

Forested/Wetlands       75.8    10,621

Total Land Area 100.0*   14,016

Lakes and Ponds*                 2,496

Total Area               16,512

*Lakes and Ponds Comprise 15% of Sunapee's Total Area

Source:  1985 Master Plan, Updates from Town Records


Residential development accounts for approximately 10% of Sunapee's land area.  Residential development is the primary use of the Town's developed land.  The highest density of residential development can be found in Sunapee Village, Wendell, Georges Mills, the Grandliden Development and along the shores of the Lakes and Ponds.  The balance of residential development is scattered throughout the Town with low to medium density.                


Commercial development comprises less than 1% of the Town of Sunapee's land area.  Most of this type of development is located in the village centers and along the State Highways - Route 11 and Route 103.    


Only one significant industrial business remains in Sunapee - Microprecision which is located on Main Street in Sunapee Village.  Several smaller home industries exist in scattered locations throughout the Town.  Again, this type of development occupies less than 1% of Sunapee's land area.
Highways & Utilities

The network of roads and utility lines comprise about 5% of the Town's land area.  Included in this is 82 miles of roads and 13 miles of public utility rights-of-way.

Public Lands

Approximately 6% of Sunapee's land area can be categorized as public land.  This includes conservation land, town parks, community facilities, and cemeteries.  General descriptions of these lands can be found in the appropriate sections.


Only about 3% of Sunapee's land area remains actively in agriculture.  Most of the agricultural land is used for pasture or hay production with very little used for cultivated crops.


The largest type of existing land use is forest and wetlands, which comprise 3/4 of the Town's, land area.  Large tracts of undeveloped land still exists in the northwest, west central, and southern portions of town.

Table II-2 provides a list of approved subdivisions in the Town of Sunapee from 1985-1997.  

        TABLE II-2

        April 1985 - December 1997

                        Total   Dev.    Remain.
Subdivision Name       Location        Lots    Lots    Lots

1.  Adams (1991)        Rolling Rock    2       1       1
2.  Bailey  (1991)      Bradford Rd     3       3       0
3.  Bailey Farm (1988)   Route 103B     2       1        1
4.  Barrett  (1991)      Route 11       2       0       2
5.  Bascom (1997)       Keyes Rd        2       1       1
6.  Bell (1997) Trow Hill Rd    2       1       1
7.  Binzel (1989)       Bay Rd  2       2       0
8.  Bishop/Hudson (1985)        Riverside Dr    5       1       4
9.  Bishop/Hudson (1989)        North Rd        7       1       6
10. Brown, David (1993) Highland Hill   4       1       3
11. Browns Hill (1987)  Route 11        31      12       16     *
12. Buchan, Jim (1988)  Lower Main St   2       2       0
13. Carpenter (1990)    Cross Rd        3       1       2
14. Chartiers (1985)    Avery Rd        3       3       0
15. Collins (1992)      Springfield Rd  2       2       0
16. Cooper (1988)       Rolling Rock Rd 3       1       2
17. Cote, Leon (1987)   Prospect Hill   2       1       1
18. Couture-Farland (1985)      Perkins Pond Rd         6       5       1
19. Coventry Woods (1994)       Perkins Pond Rd 5       2       3
20. Coventry Woods (1997)       Perkins Pond Rd 11      0       11
21. Dabrowski (1996)    Prospect Hill Rd        2       2       0

                        Total   Dev.    Remain.
Subdivision Name        Location        Lots    Lots    Lots
22. Dargie, John (1986) Winn Hill Rd    2       2       0
22. Davis, Gary (1986)  Route 103B      2       0       2
23. Descoteau (1985)    Route 11        2       2       0
24. Eastman, Noel (1993)        Prospect Hill    3       1       2
25. Ferris (1989)       Nutting Rd       2       2       0
26. Fitts (1995)        Burkehaven Hill          5       0       5
27. Fournier, Doug (1993)       Route 11         2       2       0
28. Franzen (1990)      Nutting Rd      4       1       3
29. Gibson (1989)       Winn Hill Rd    2       1       1
30. Gillings/Eaton (1987)       Ryder Corner    5       3       2
31. Gillings/Eaton (1989)       Ryder Corner    2       0       2
32. Gillings/Eaton (1991)       Ryder Corner    5       0       5
33. Gonyo, Wilfred (1992)       Perkins Pond Rd         2       1       1
34. Hamel, Ralph (1990)         Brook Rd        2       1       1
35. Harbor Hill (1989)  Burkehaven Rd    15     5       10
36. Laurie (1994)       Sunny Lane      2        2       0
37. Meadowbrook (1987)  Route 103B       22      3      19
38. Mountain View (1989)        Stagecoach Rd   4        4       0
39. Nelson, Robert (1989)       Prospect Hill   2        2       0
40. Nolen (1989)        Hell's Corner   3        2       1
41. Norcross (1987)     Garnet Hill     2        2       0
42. Nutting (1986)      Nutting Rd      3        1       2
43. Nutting (1996)      Young's Hill Rd 3       3       0
44. Orlando, Joe (1995)         Route 103B      3       1       2
45. Richardson (1994)   North Rd        2       2       0
46. Scott (1997)        Route 11        2       0       2
47. Simpson, Frank (1986)       Stagecoach Rd   3       3       0

                        Total   Dev.     Remain.
    Subdivision Name   Location        Lots    Lots    Lots
48. Smith, Barry (1993) Nutting Rd      3       2       1
49. Sorento (1986)      Avery Lane      2       2       0
50. Stansfield (1994)   Young's Hill Rd 2       2       0
51. Taber, Scott (1989) Burkehaven Hill 2       1       0       *
52. Titus (1995)        Young's Hill Rd 2       2       0
53. Trenholm (1989)     Caldwell Rd     2       2       0
54. Trow Estate (1990)  Cross Rd            4       2       1   *
                Totals  224     102     117

* Indicates that available lots have been reduced by mergers, annexations, or other restrictions.

        TABLE II-3


        Single  Multi   Mobile  Total
Year    Family  Family   Home   Units
1990    11       1       0       12
1991    10       6       1       17
1992     9       0       0       9
1993     7       1       2       10
1994    13       0       0       13
1995    23       0       0       23
1996    21       2       0       23
1997    19       6       0       25


To determine potential for future growth three major factors must be considered, (1) Capability of the land to support growth, (2) Willingness of community to allow for growth, (3) Availability of municipal services to sustain the growth.  This subsection will deal only with land capability.  The second factor will be addressed in the next subsection entitled "Community Attitudes" and the third factor will be addressed in Section V - Community Facilities and Services.

Land Capability

The natural environment plays a large role in community development.  As mentioned in the introduction, there are methods used to overcome difficult sites but State and Federal legislation in the past 25 years has moved to protect certain valuable resources such as Wetlands.  Other laws restrict development in areas with shallow soil cover, steep slopes, or high groundwater table due to the inability of these areas to treat septic system effluent.

Currently, Sunapee prohibits construction on poorly and very poorly drained soils (wetlands).  Properties, which have soils with a high aquifer potential, have lower allowable density and lot coverage requirements.  The shores of the Lakes and Ponds (within 300') are protected by a comprehensive shoreline ordinance, which regulates all building, land disturbance and removal of natural vegetation.

Maps detailing soil types (from the Sullivan County Soil Survey), aquifer potential zones (from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services), and natural features are available in the Town Office.  Brief summaries of each follow:

1.  Soil Types - The county soil survey groups soils into three general types; sand and gravel soils, hardpan glacial till soils and wet soils or shallow to bedrock soils.

Each soil type is sub-classified with slope percentages indicating average grade of slope across each soil mapping unit.

Through the use of these soil maps it is possible to delineate wetland soils (poorly and very poorly drained), shallow soils w/steep slopes, and prime agricultural soils.       

2.  Aquifer Potential Zones - The aquifer potential map identifies zones of high groundwater capacity.  These areas are most notably concentrated in Wendell and Georges Mills.

The value of such maps is to locate areas in need of extra protection from development to help preserve this valuable source of fresh water.
3.  Natural Features - The natural features map shows in a general fashion such items as lakes and ponds, major streams, prime wetlands, steep slopes, large undeveloped areas, woodlands, farmland, and the other significant natural areas.


Respondents to the community survey indicated that they enjoyed the small town atmosphere, peace and quiet, and unpolluted natural environment the most about Sunapee.  Two-thirds of the respondents indicated that they wanted the annual population growth rate of 1.02% to stay the same while an additional 24% thought it should be slower.
In general, those responding to the survey opposed commercial uses such as heavy industry, shopping centers and strip development.  Retail stores, restaurants, and home businesses were the most favored commercial use.  

Sixty-seven (67%) percent of all respondents favored expanding Sunapee's Shoreland Protection Zone to include rivers and streams directly flowing into lakes and ponds.

Zoning by use district was supported by 68% of the respondents.  A majority (61%) favored maintaining current lot size requirements while 28% supported increasing lot size requirements.


Future Land Use Needs

The future land use plan of a community is a function of the community needs during the next 10-20 years.  The population section indicates that Sunapee is expected to grow by roughly 250 persons during the period 1995-2005 and 300 persons during the period 2005-2015.

It can be estimated that an additional 200 - 225 dwelling units will be needed to meet the population demands for the next 20 years.  If the population increase remains at the projected modest levels, the housing needs should be met through the existing supply of undeveloped lots and carefully planned new developments.

As tourism continues to grow in the Lake Sunapee area, pressure will increase for more commercial development.  Much of this commercial development will be service oriented.  As with other tourist regions, the State Highway corridors (Route 11 & 103) will be prime locations for commercial development pressure.  

The continuing decline in manufacturing in the region means that any pressure for new industry in Sunapee will be minimal.  However, any growth in population will increase the demand for well-paying jobs.  High-tech companies and other "clean" industries are choosing rural locations for new plants and there is the potential for such a company(ies) relocating in Sunapee.

The projected slow to moderate growth rate should not adversely impact the existing utilities, community facilities, or highways.  Of course, as mentioned in the their respective sections, facilities which are currently inadequate will need to be brought up to standard in the very near future.

Conservation of natural features and historic resources must constantly be addressed during any period of growth regardless of the rate.  Preservation of the Sunapee's unique qualities is a major consideration in any future land use plan.

Land Use Goals

The following goals and objectives should be recognized in future land use planning:

1.   Encourage a residential development pattern which will provide for higher density housing in areas served by public utilities in and adjacent to existing village centers and lower density housing in outlying areas.

2.   Encourage commercial development in village areas where  commercial development currently exists.

3.   Allow commercial development along designated sections of State Highways only with strict controls on road access, traffic circulation and landscaping.

4.   Limit commercial and industrial development to specific zoning districts so as to prevent intrusion into residential districts.

5.       Encourage preservation efforts of significant historical, natural, and scenic resources.

6.       Develop a plan to insure that public recreational lands will continue to be acquired to meet the needs of a growing population.

7.       Encourage the development of bikeways, paths, and other recreational ways.

Future Land Use Summary

The Future Land Use Map which is a supplement to this Master Plan graphically describes the growth objectives for Sunapee in the next 20 years.  The following summarizes these objectives by category:

1.      Village - The Village areas of Sunapee are patterned after the typical New England town centers.  These areas are characterized by the highest densities of land use and also contain the mix of land uses associated with village centers, including commercial, public, institutional, and both single family residential and multi-family residential land uses.  The Village centers are the areas where the Town government has maintained a consistent public policy of investing in municipal services and utility infrastructure such as streets, parking lots, sidewalks, street lighting, storm drainage, municipal water and sewer, fire protection and other public improvements, such as parks, playgrounds and other civic amenities.  The Town of Sunapee has two village centers, designated on the Future Land Use Map as Sunapee Village and Georges Mills Village.

2.      Residential - The Residential areas of Sunapee are the residential areas located adjacent to and/or surrounding the village centers. These are areas of primarily single family residential land use at a medium density.  Residential areas include some home based business uses which are compatible with the residential character of these areas.  

3.      Rural Residential - The Rural Residential areas of Sunapee are the outlying and remote residential areas of town and are located along existing town roads and generally without municipal utilities.  These areas are generally single family land use at low density.  Rural Residential areas include some home based business uses which are compatible with the rural character of these areas.  Farm and forest land use are also found in these areas.  

Conservation - The Conservation areas of Sunapee are among the most remote, most pristine and/or critical natural areas.  These areas include the highest elevations in Sunapee, steep slopes, wetlands, river and stream corridors, flood plains, undeveloped islands and water supply protection areas.

Mixed Uses - a.  The Light Industrial area of Sunapee is located near and as a continuation of the Newport/Wendell industrial/commercial area.  This area is served by an upgraded State Highway alignment and is also served by the Town of Sunapee sewerage system.  Land Uses in this area are proposed as clean, high technology, capital-intensive manufacturing and office park uses.

b.  The Tourist Service Commercial area in Sunapee is located convenient to Mount Sunapee State Park and Ski Resort.  This area is served by an upgraded State
Highway alignment and for the longer term has engineering feasibility of connecting to the Town of Sunapee sewerage system via the abandoned Claremont and Concord Railroad alignment.  Land Uses in this area are proposed as tourist services including convenience retail, dining, lodging and entertainment service commercial uses.


1.  Implement Use Zoning Ordinance.

The Planning Board should formulate a new use-based zoning ordinance.  This ordinance should incorporate the provisions of the current dimension-based zoning ordinance.

Any use zoning ordinance should follow the future land use plan discussed elsewhere in this section.  In general, the districts should include a village district, a residential district, a conservation district and mixed-use districts (including light industry).
A use zoning ordinance should recognize the importance of small home-based businesses and these type of businesses should be permitted by right in all districts.  

2.  Tighten Zoning and Site Plan Regulations to Control Strip Development.

Any use zoning ordinance should limit the growth of commercial establishments along the major highways in Town (including Route 11, Route 103, and Route 103B).

In addition to zoning restrictions, the Planning Board should adopt Site Plan Review guidelines related to landscape buffering for new businesses along each highway.  The Board should look at not only proposed landscape plans, but the proper layout of commercial sites which will conform to the environment.

3.  Expand Shoreline Overlay District.

The Planning Board should collect information related to the water quality impact from streams entering the Lakes.  If after gathering the information, the Board determines that significant gains could be made in lake water quality by protecting streams, changes in the Zoning Ordinance should be proposed.

New zoning regulations should include protection of vegetative buffers and erosion control plan requirements for construction within a certain distance of the streams.

4.  Create Special Zoning District for Sunapee Harbor Area.

Any new use-based Zoning Ordinance should recognize the area of town including the Harbor, Main Street and Route 11 (between Main & Central Streets) as the center of community activity.  Dimensional standards could be relaxed in such a district provided that certain Site Plan and Special Exception requirements are met to insure orderly development.  

        This new district must also recognize the value of such natural assets as Lake Sunapee and the Sugar River.  Site Plan standards or Special Exception requirements should be structured so that adequate buffers are maintained between any site improvement and any water body.  



Housing is one of society‚Äôs most basic needs.  However, during the last several decades of national prosperity, housing has come to represent more than just shelter.  Housing is now a primary investment tool many use for retirement planning.  Sunapee, in particular, has many seasonal homes, which are not considered primary residences.

In a town where the predominant land use is residential, housing defines the character of the community.  Current zoning regulations have been crafted to specifically address dimensional requirements of residential lots and buildings.

Quality housing remains an unmet need for many.  The demand for seasonal housing and a tax structure, which relies heavily on the property tax, has made affordable housing increasingly difficult to find.

Community Survey & Attitudes

The community survey conducted by the Planning Board sought public opinion on the following types of housing:  single-family homes, duplexes, multi-family homes, mobile homes, mobile home parks, and condominiums.  Single-family homes were by far the most preferred type of housing (favored by 100% of those expressing an opinion).

Duplexes were favored by 75% of those with an opinion. With respect to other forms of housing - only 34% favored multi-family housing, 21% favored mobile homes, 15% favored mobile home parks, and 45% favored condominiums.  

In addition to questions on housing types, several other questions were asked related to housing.  The majority of respondents (53%) favored a building code regulating construction, remodeling and maintenance of buildings.  The majority also favored regulating uses by district thereby creating true residential neighborhoods within the Town.

Respondents felt that growth within the Town should stay in line with the 1% per year experienced during the 1980's.  This desire for moderate growth was further substantiated with 62% of the survey respondents favoring keeping current zoning lot sizes and 27% favoring increasing the lot size requirement.  Only 5% felt that the lot size requirement should be decreased thereby allowing faster growth.

    A full analysis of the survey may be found in the appendix.
Housing Profile

The following table shows that the growth in housing dropped off considerably during the 1980's.  Seasonal homes did grow at a faster rate during the period.

        TABLE III-1

        Occupied        %        Seasonal       %       Vacant  %       Total   %
Year    Units      Change        Homes            Change          Units            Change        Units  Change

1970     450      -              684         -           29          -           1,163    -      
1980     883     96.2%   722    5.5%    40      37.9%   1,645   41.4%
1990     991     12.2%  823      14.0%   90     125.0%  1,904    15.7%

Source:  1990 U.S. Census, 1985 Master Plan

Composition of the Housing Stock

When compared with the State as a whole, Sunapee remains a rural-residential community.  This is reflected in the following table which shows that single-family detached homes comprise 76.4% of the housing stock in Sunapee, 62.7% in the county, but only 59.1% in the State as whole.

        TABLE III-2

        Sunapee County  State
         No.    %       No.     %       No.      %

Total Units     1,904   100.0   19,532   100.0  503,904  100.0

1 unit, detached        1,455   76.4    12,252  62.7    297,777         59.1

1 unit, attached        134     7.0     660     3.4     23,072  4.6

2 to 4 units    155     8.1     2,560   13.1    68,105  13.5
5 to 9 units    55                      2.9             864     4.4     26,985  5.4

10 or more units        3       2       986     5.1     46,022  9.1

Mobile Homes    102                     5.4             2,210   11.3    41,943  8.3

Source:  1990 U.S. Census
Comparison of Owner/Renter Occupied Units

The following table shows that Sunapee has a higher percentage of its residents living in Owner-Occupied living units than the County or the State.
        TABLE III-3
                       Sunapee                 County                  State
       No.      %       No.     %       No.     %
Total Population        2,556   100.0   38,592  100.0   1,109,252       100.0
Owner-Occupied   1,946  76.1    28,485  73.8    816,229         73.6

Renter-Occupied  610    23.9    10,107  26.2    293,023         26.4

Source:  1990 U.S. Census
Financial Characteristics of Owner-Occupied Housing Units

The median value of Owner-Occupied housing units in Sunapee is from $100,000 to $149,000.  This is consistent with the statewide median and above the median for the County.

        TABLE III-4
                Sunapee                         County                  State
        No.      %      No.      %       No.     %

Total Specified Units   544     100.0   6,542   100.0   199,358         100.0

Less Than $50,000       8       1.5     531     8.1     6,262   3.1

$50,000 to $99,999      126     23.2    3,487   53.3    45,594  22.9

$100,000 to $149,999    172     31.6    1,588   24.3    79,905  40.1

$150,000 to $199,999    119     21.9    562     8.6     39,937  20.0

$200,000 to $299,999    57      10.5    258     3.9     21,088  10.6

$300,000 and Over       62      11.4    116     1.8     6,572   3.3

Source:  1990 U.S. Census

Financial Characteristics of Renter-Occupied Housing Units

The median monthly rental cost in Sunapee in 1990 is shown to be in the range of $250 to $499 based on the following table.  This range is the same as the County and the State.  Indications are that current rentals are at the upper end of this scale.
        TABLE III-5

        Sunapee County  State
       No.          %          No.     %        No.     %

Total Specified Units   222     100.0   3,958   100.0   121,779         100.0

Less than $250  14      6.3     860     21.7    14,724  12.1

$250 to $499    128     57.7    2,295   58.0    51,960  42.7

$500 to $749    73      32.9    732     18.5    45,058  37.0

$750 to $999    5       2.3     59      1.5     7,084   5.8

$1000 and over  2       .1      12      .3      2,233   1.8

Source:  1990 U.S. Census

Housing Problems & Related Issues

There are several housing related issues facing Sunapee during the next 10-20 years.  Other communities throughout the region share many of these issues.  The following is a list of these challenges:

1) High Cost of Housing - Tables III-4 and III-5 indicate that both owner-occupied and rental housing units tend to be more costly in Sunapee than in Sullivan County as a whole.  This higher cost of housing makes it difficult for the younger and older segments of the population to find affordable housing.      

2) Limited Housing Opportunities - For those not able to afford home ownership, the opportunities for housing are limited.  There are few apartments available and no housing specifically designated for the elderly.

3) Limited ability for expansion due to inadequate lot size or setback - There is increasing pressure to improve upon existing homes with additions or outbuildings such as garages.  Many times these additions are restricted due to the non-conformity of the existing structure or lot to the current Zoning regulations.


1.  Adoption of Building Code for New Structures.

In order to ensure quality housing, Sunapee should adopt a national building code for new structures within the Town.  This would include new commercial and residential buildings as well as major additions to existing structures (major being defined in terms of square footage or construction cost).

The code would be enforced by a Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer.  A fee structure could be set up to cover the salary and expenses of this inspector.

2.  Insure Ample Affordable Housing Opportunities.

Provisions should be made in any future Zoning Ordinance for new multi-unit dwellings in certain areas of town.  Multi-unit buildings should be encouraged in areas served by public utilities (i.e. water and sewer). This will provide safe and affordable housing for the elderly, handi-capped, youth and young families.

3. Prevent commercial and industrial uses from entering predominantly residential districts.

This would best be accomplished by a use-based Zoning Ordinance as described in Section II.  Such an ordinance would maintain the residential character of certain neighborhoods and protect such from excess noise and traffic as well as potential health and safety issues.



Transportation in the Town of Sunapee and environs has historically been dominated by automobile travel and the railroads.  The passenger steamboats of yesteryear also played a part in the transportation network albeit to a lesser extent.

Today, with the railroads completely gone from the Town, automobile travel is the sole mode of mechanical transportation.  There are no public airports in the Town and public transportation opportunities are absent.  As a result, the public highway system is infinitely important to the community.

This section will provide an overview of the transportation system in Sunapee.  This overview will include an analysis of relevant data along with public opinion and recommendations for the future.

Highway System

Table IV-1 indicates that the majority (76%) of Sunapee's roads are controlled solely by the Town.  The balance of the roads are part of the State Highway System or are privately controlled.  There is a small stretch of Interstate 89, which crosses the Northerly boundary of the Town.  

Any new public road built in the Town must meet a minimum set of specifications, which are found in the Subdivision Regulations.  In 1992, the Planning Board enacted the first set of driveway regulations in the Town.  These regulations provided for safer driveway intersections by implementing minimum standards for driveway slope, width at intersection, sight distance, drainage, and other safety parameters.

Table IV-1
Road Mileage by Classification - 1997

    Class      Description                     Miles

        I       State and Federal Highways      12.15
        II      Secondary State Highways        4.62
        III     Recreational State Highways     0.00
        IV      Urban Compact Highways          0.00
        V       Municipally Maintained Highways         52.20
        VI      Discontinued Highways -
                Subject to Gates and Bars        3.50
                Total Town Highways     72.47
                Private Roads              9.50
                Total All Roadways      81.97

Source:  Highway Dept.

Highway Maintenance

Maintenance of Sunapee's highways is a never ending process.  This is due in part to the climatic extremes experienced in the area and in part to the fact that many of the old roads were not built to handle the traffic flows being generated today.

In the 1997 fiscal year, highway maintenance accounted for approximately 25% of total town expenditures (excluding school budget and special articles).  This percentage has remained  essentially unchanged over the past 10 years.   Of the total highway expenditures a vast majority is spent on winter maintenance with the balance used for upgrades.  Special warrant articles are presented annually at Town Meeting for paving and other special highway projects.

The Community Survey asked property owners/residents to rate snow plowing and road repairs.  86% of those responding felt that snow plowing was good, 11% felt that it was fair, and 3% rated it as poor.  As for the condition (repair) of roads, 52% felt that it was good, 35% rated it as fair and 15% rated it as poor.

Parking & Circulation

The area of Sunapee with the greatest challenges in regard to parking and circulation is in Sunapee Harbor.  Georges Mills does not currently have any serious parking challenges but as growth continues parking will become a major concern.

Sunapee Harbor is limited both by available parking areas  and poor circulation due to narrow streets and roads.  The opportunities for increasing the available parking in the Harbor are limited but with cooperation between the Town and private enterprise, options may be available for improving and expanding existing parking areas or developing parking in remote areas and using shuttle buses/vans during special events and peak days.

The challenges in Georges Mills may be easier to address as the area is not developed to capacity and proper planning may help alleviate potential parking and circulation problems.  Unlike Sunapee Harbor, a State Highway (Route 11) passes directly through the heart of Georges Mills.  There are also two interstate exits within 1 mile of Georges Mills.  Future parking plans will need to recognize the importance of Route 11 so as to insure there will be no compromise of highway safety due to overflow parking.

Burkehaven is another area with seasonal parking problems.  Many who access the islands on Lake Sunapee will park along the narrow roads in this area causing occasional congestion.

Parking problems and congestion are sporadic throughout the remainder of the Town.  As a general rule parking becomes an issue where there are narrow roads and a high density of housing.

Traffic Counts

Traffic counts at various points along the major corridors in Sunapee are shown in Table IV-2 below.  Projections for growth are also shown.

Any growth in traffic flow will exacerbate existing congestion/parking problems in the Harbor area of Sunapee and may create new problems in the Georges Mills area.  Unless provisions are made for new roadways or the enlargement of existing roadways, increasing traffic counts will reduce the level of service for a transportation network.  The effects of decreased levels of service include reduced speeds along highways and increased delays at intersections.

        Location         1992 ADT       *       2002 Proj.        2012 Proj.
        Route 11 (1 mi. S of G Mills)   6218    7855    10,726
        Route 11 (Int. w/ Route 103)    6860    8666    11,834
        Route 11 (NL Line)      4927    6224    8499
        Route 103 (Newbury Line)        4072    5144     7024
        Route 103B(Newbury Line)        1165    1472     2010
        I-89 Northbound 5627    7108    9707
        I-89 Southbound 5482    6925     9456

*ADT - Average Daily Traffic
Source: l993 Regional Profile
Commuting Characteristics

The 1990 census indicated that by far the majority of those commuting to work did so by driving alone (84%).  Approximately  5% of those commuting carpooled.  Public transportation is non-existent in Sunapee.  

Sunapee's commuting patterns are similar to other rural areas.  Table IV-3 below shows a breakdown of travel times to work by Sunapee's residents.  A 15-19 minute commute is the most prevalent in the survey, which reflects travel time to Newport and New London.  A commute of 30-34 minutes is also commonplace from Sunapee as this is the travel time to Claremont and the Lebanon, Hanover, and White River Junction area.

Travel Time to Work

       Travel Time     No. of Respondents      Percent
       Less than 5 Minutes             121     9.0
        5 to 9 Minutes  164     12.2
       10 to 14 Minutes        211     15.7
        15 to 19 Minutes        259       19.3
        20 to 24 Minutes        170     12.6
        25 to 29 Minutes        24      1.8
        30 to 34 Minutes        205     15.2
        35 to 39 Minutes         41     3.1
        40 to 44 Minutes         28     2.1
        45 to 59 Minutes         34     2.5
        60 to 89 Minutes        38      2.8
        90+ Minutes     0       0.0
        No Commute/Worked at Home       50      3.7

Source: 1993 Regional Profile

Community Attitudes

As mentioned above, the community generally feels that the transportation network (comprised mainly of highways) within Sunapee adequately serves their needs.  

The community survey (see appendix) specifically asked whether public funds should be expended to improve circulation in the Sunapee Harbor area.  Forty-seven percent (47%) of  respondents approved of the idea with 38% against.

1.  The Town of Sunapee should work with the private sector to create new parking areas and improve traffic circulation in the Villages of Sunapee and Georges Mills.

The Lake Sunapee Region attracts many weekend tourists and part-time summer residents.  Public boat launch areas in both Georges Mills and Sunapee Harbor attract not only vehicles but  boat trailers as well which makes the need for adequate parking a special challenge.

Sunapee Village and Sunapee Harbor have the highest concentration of businesses, restaurants, and offices in the Town.  When this fact is combined with the popularity of the Harbor as a summer destination for visitors and the high density of housing on Lake Avenue and Garnet Street, the need for improved parking and traffic circulation is greatest in this area.

The Town should expand parking in the Harbor area where available land exists.  Provisions should be made for boat trailer parking outside of the areas of highest traffic and congestion. Parking and improvements should be made to existing municipal parking.

A traffic study should be undertaken by the Town of Sunapee to determine the best long-term solutions to accessing the Harbor.  Possible solutions would include expanding the road network into the Harbor, creating paths for pedestrian access to the Harbor, re-routing of traffic around high traffic areas, and improved signage.
It may also be feasible to work with the private sector to develop a shuttle service (van or bus) from remote parking areas into the harbor during special events or other peak days.

The continued growth of Georges Mills and its ready access to two interstate exits will create parking and congestion problems in the future.  As in Sunapee Harbor, boat trailer parking presents an immediate challenge to the transportation system.  

The Town should explore purchasing land outside the immediate village area in Georges Mills and creating a designated parking area for boat trailers.  Parking along Town streets in the village area should be prohibited.

2.  The Highway Department and Selectmen should continue to follow recommendations set forth in the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and coordinate highway improvements with future plans of other Departments.  

The Capital Improvements Program (CIP) provides a mechanism for a community to schedule major expenditures so as to create stability in the Property Tax Rate.  The Capital Improvements Program is a function of the Planning Board but is developed through input from the various Town departments.

The Highway Department and Board of Selectmen should continue to be an active part of the CIP process.  Along with planning for expenditures, an ongoing strategy for coordinating interrelated public works should be a priority.

3.  The Planning Board in conjunction with the Highway Department should develop a highway management plan for all roads within the Town.

       A highway management plan would classify all roads by current traffic flows (trips per day), projected traffic flows, surface type, and condition.

This plan would be useful in prioritizing future highway improvements and evaluating impacts of proposed subdivisions.  It would also be a useful tool if an impact fee ordinance is implemented.

4.  The Planning Board and Highway Department should review the existing subdivision standards for new development roads that will potentially become Town Roads to insure that the Town will face the least maintenance costs possible in the future.

Properly designed and constructed roads are less costly to maintain than roads, which are of poor design and construction.  Important aspects of road design include proper subbase depths, traveled widths, drainage provisions, and vertical and horizontal alignment.

The Planning Board should continuously review roads in past developments to determine if current design standards are adequate to meet future needs.

5.  The Planning Board should recommend zoning amendments, which will regulate strip development along major highway corridors within the Town of Sunapee.     Strip development is the expansion of commercial businesses (usually food service or retail establishments) along highways with high traffic counts.  

Where strip development occurs, highway safety and level of service are usually compromised.  Where upgrades of highway level of service are required due to strip development, the result is added turning lanes and traffic signalization.  These upgrades are usually very costly at both the local and state levels.

The Planning Board should restrict uses that have strip development characteristics to already established commercial areas.  If other uses such as office and light industry are proposed along major highway corridors, access and buffering should be carefully reviewed in the Site Plan Review process.

6.  The Board of Selectmen should actively work with the State Department of Transportation to insure Sunapee's State Highways are adequately represented on the long-range Transportation plan.
The Department of Transportation continuously updates the statewide and regional transportation plan, which prioritizes the maintenance of State Highways and replacement of Highway structures.

The Selectmen should insure that a representative from Sunapee attends the transportation committee meetings at the Regional Planning Commission.  The Planning Board should review all DOT transportation plans and report such to the Selectmen for action.
7.  The Town of Sunapee should research the potential for bicycle and pedestrian ways within the Town so as to enhance the opportunities for recreational activities.

The 1994 Regional Transportation Plan prepared by the Upper Valley-Lake Sunapee Council proposes that a loop be created around Lake Sunapee for a bikeway system.  This system would utilize a shared lane with existing highways.

Route 103B within the Town of Sunapee would need to be upgraded to accomplish the goal of such a bikeway system.  Certain sections of Route 11 would also need to be widened to accommodate a bicycle lane.

Enhancement of the highway system to promote recreational activities would also include scenic designation of certain highways.  The Town should actively research programs, which may be available to help fund, such scenic designations.



The strong role of local government in providing services to residents is unique to small New England Towns.  By way of the annual Town and School meetings, residents have a direct say in issues of funding and capital improvements.

Population growth is a never ending stress on the ability for community facilities and services to meet expanding needs.  Similarly as a rural town experiences an influx of people from urban areas, there is a rise in expectations, which also taxes the available services.

Planning for future facilities and services requires careful study of population trends (see Section X), facility life, and community attitudes.  This section will focus on the current status of each the various town services with planning recommendations included.

Town Offices

A new Town Office was completed in 1989 on Route 103B (Edgemont Road) and this replaced the offices, which were in the old town hall on Main Street.  The new building is a single-story wood-framed structure with 2737 sf of first-floor space with an equal amount of unfinished space in the basement.

Currently the Town Office houses the Selectmen's Office, the Town Clerk/Tax Collector, the Water and Sewer Department, the Treasurer, the Planning and Zoning office, and the Welfare Office.  The meeting room is used almost every night during the week by the various Boards and Departments.

The Town Office is on a 3.1 acre parcel of land.  With a wetland to the rear of the building, a park and the river to one side and hydroelectric facilities to the other, future expansion possibilities at the current site are limited.

Police Department

The Sunapee Police Station is currently in the Old Town Hall located on Main Street in Sunapee Village.  Presently there is a total of 1100 square feet of office space available to the department.  
Police Department staff currently includes a chief, a secretary, 3 full-time officers and 5 part-time officers.    


1.  Find Suitable New Quarters for Sunapee Police Department.

The aging old Town Hall is in need of repair and maintenance to continue to house any town departments.  With the Police Department's needs growing as community grows, it is recommended that a new building be found to house the department.  Possibilities include the library building (if the library moves) or a combined Fire/Police Station (Public Safety Building) located on Route 11 and Sargent Street (to replace existing Fire and Highway department buildings).

Fire Department

The Sunapee Fire Department is an all-volunteer department.   They utilize two fire stations - one on Route 11 in Sunapee Village and the other on Route 11 in Georges Mills.  The station in Sunapee is considered the main Fire Station. As mentioned in the section above, the Fire Department will need a new main Fire Station in the near future and may consider joining the Police Department in a combined Public Safety Building.   

There are currently 53 firefighters who are on call, with several members also serving on the Fast Squad.  The following table shows a list of fire fighting equipment:

        TABLE V-1
        Equipment Name          Year    Make
        Model 80 Pumper         1940    Mack
        Ladder Truck            1964    Mack
        Pumper/Tanker           1965    Chevrolet
        Pumper          1978    International
        Fire Truck/Tanker               1985    Mack
        Pumper          1986    GMC
        Fire Truck/Pumper               1994    Mack

Highway Department/Transfer Station

The center of operations for the Sunapee Highway Department is at the Garage located on Sargent Road near Route 11.  The existing building is a 50' x 60' steel framed building which was built in the early 60s.  There are also several outbuildings at the site used for storage.

As the highway department is responsible for the total maintenance of 52 miles of roads, the need for a diverse and reliable fleet of equipment is imperative.  The table on the following page shows the current inventory of town equipment:

        Equipment Name  Year    Make
       Loader  1962    Loader
        Mower/Sweeper   1972    John Deere
        Loader  1987    Caterpillar
        Truck w/Plow & Sander   1989    Ford L8000
        LT-9000 1989    Ford
        Grader  1991    Caterpillar
        Truck w/Plow & Sander   1994    Ford L8000
        Dump Truck      1994    Ford L8000
        Plow/Sander     1995    Ford
        418B Loader     1996    Caterpillar
        Truck   1996    Ford L8000
        K82 Dump Truck  1997    Ford

The Community Survey indicated that 86% of those with an opinion felt that winter maintenance (plowing) of the roads was good.  A smaller percentage (52%) felt that overall maintenance (road repairs) was good.

The Transfer station is located on Avery Road.  Currently this station serves to collect and sort all solid waste in town.  All recyclable products are sorted and then distributed to the appropriate companies while the trash is sent to the incinerator in Claremont.

There is currently discussion about the possibility of moving the highway department operations to a parcel of land on Avery Road across from the Transfer Station.  This location would be convenient for the workers in the joint operation.  


        1.  Follow Through With Plan to Move Highway Department.

Moving the Highway Department operations to Avery Road will be a win/win situation for all parties.  Placing the highway and transfer station operations in close proximity to one another will aid the Road Agent in his or her tasks.  A valuable parcel of town-owned land near the community center will be available for other uses and the site will have the potential to be more aesthetically pleasing to those driving into the community.

2.Complete Highway Management Plan for All Roads in Sunapee.

As recommended in the Transportation Section, a highway management plan will help prioritize maintenance work, aid in the preparation of the Capital Improvements Plan, and be a guide for the Planning Board in reviewing new developments.

The Abbott Library is Sunapee's only public library.  It is located on the corner of Route 11 and Main Street and has 3,456 sf of space.  This space includes a basement area with a meeting room and a main floor area with a circulation desk and reference room.

The Library in 1996 contained 26,267 books, 180 cassettes, 215 compact discs, 563 audio books, 717 videos, and 27 films.  Additionally, the library subscribed to 54 magazines and 8 newspapers.

The staff currently includes 1 full-time and 3 part-time people.  These staff work a combined 88 hours/week and maintain a circulation of 36,368 and serve 3729 registered borrowers.  The current annual operating budget is $94,773.

The library reports the following standards for collection size for a municipality of between 2000 and 4000 persons:

6 volumes/capita  
10 volumes/sf floor space
16 seats + 5/1000 people over 3500
20 periodicals/1000 people

    The library projects the following needs by the year 2005:

6912 square feet of library space.
2 full-time and 4 part-time staff members.
Collection size of 34,500 volumes.
Linear shelf space = 8752 feet.


1.  Expand the Current Library or Construct Larger Building.

The library space needs will certainly exceed the available space in the existing building in the next few years.  If a study finds that it is impractical to expand the existing building, the town should begin planning for a new building to be constructed sometime within the next two or three years.
School System

The Sunapee Public School System is comprised of the Elementary School, which is located on School Street, and the Middle High School, which is on North Road.  A discussion on the enrollment figures can be found in Section X (Population).

The Middle High School is currently undergoing a major expansion and renovation.  Once completed the building will cover 74,200 square feet.  Included in the current renovation is added classroom space and a new gymnasium.  This renovation should address the needs of grades 6-12 for the next 10+ years.

The Elementary School has approximately 12,000 square feet of space.  The last major upgrade to this school was in the late 1980's.  The building was first constructed in  1926.

The Community Survey indicates that 77% of those with an opinion felt that the Education System in Sunapee is "Good".


Sunapee has a total of six cemeteries of which two are considered active.  A list below shows the location and size of each Cemetery.

                Cemetery        Location        Size

        *       New Eastman     North Road      5.0 Acres
                Old Eastman     North Road      1.5 Acres
        *       South Sunapee   Old Route 103   .5 Acres
                Georges Mills   Route 11         .4 Acres
                Lower Village   Lower Main Street       .5 Acres
                Cooper  Stagecoach Road .5 Acres

* Active



The utility network in the Town of Sunapee includes municipal water and sewer service, electricity, telephone, cable television, and hydroelectric power.  

The municipal sewer system has continuously been extended since the completion of the sewage treatment plant in 1974.  Once limited to the villages of Georges Mills and Sunapee, the system now serves Wendell and over 3/4 of the Sunapee's shoreline along Lake Sunapee.  The balance of the Town's residences are served by on-site sewage disposal.

There are two municipal water systems - one serving Sunapee Village and the other serving Georges Mills.  The Town recently completed a slow sand filter treatment plant on Harbor Hill in order to bring the Sunapee Village system into compliance with the Clean Water Act.  Bedrock wells and a reservoir has been installed in Georges Mills to bring that system into compliance.

Electric and telephone service are available in all the developed areas of town and cable television is available to some residents.

The hydroelectric station is located on the Sugar River in Sunapee Village.  The power generated from this station is sold to Public Service Company of New Hampshire.

Municipal  Sewer  System

The Sunapee municipal sewer system consists of many miles of mains throughout the Town of Sunapee which transmit sewerage to a treatment plant located off Route 11 just South of Wendell Marsh. Since 1985 there have been over 41,000 feet of new sewer mains and 5 new pump stations installed on the system.

Sunapee owns the sewage treatment plant but shares the capacity of the plant with the Town of New London.  The capacity of the plant is 640,000 gallons per day (gpd) with Sunapee allotted 35% of the capacity or 224,000 gpd.  The Water and Sewer Department reports that Sunapee currently uses only 63% (140,000 gpd) of its allotment with 84,000 gpd available for future growth.

There are currently 860 service connections to the public sewer in the Town of Sunapee.  This represents approximately 45% of all the homes in the Town.
Sewer mains extend from Georges Mills to the Burkehaven area with the majority of homes, especially along the lakeshore, currently connected.  The sewer also serves Sunapee Village and surroundings as well as the Wendell area.

The Water & Sewer Department is  proposing to construct a sewer line extension to the Perkins Pond area within the next three years   The Department is proposing an additional extension to the Mountain View Lake area.  The Department is currently upgrading the sewage pump stations.  This upgrade includes improvements for better efficiency, monitoring and safer working conditions.

Municipal  Water  System

Municipal water serves primarily the areas of Sunapee Village and Georges Mills.  Each village is served by its own water supply and distribution system.  Both systems now are in full compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Sunapee Village Water Supply and Distribution:  Sunapee Village and surrounding areas have Lake Sunapee as a source of water.  Water is pumped from the Harbor area of the Lake through a 12" intake to a slow sand filter treatment facility and then to a water storage facility on the top of Burkehaven Hill.  The water is then transmitted through a distribution system consisting of pipes 10" or less in size throughout the harbor and village area.

There are currently approximately 600 service connections to the Sunapee Village water system.  

Georges Mills Water Supply and Distribution:  The water system at Georges Mills is a smaller and somewhat older system than that in Sunapee Village.  The source of water is from bedrock wells located southwest of the village.  Water is pumped from the ground through a new treatment plant, which removes radon and adds chemicals.  The water is then fed into the reservoir and distribution system

There are currently approximately 150 service connections for the Georges Mills water system.  

Hydroelectric  Plant

The Hydroelectric Plant is located near the site of the existing Town Offices on Route 103B.  The hydro plant is fed by a penstock consisting of two 42-inch ductile iron pipes.  The water is supplied by the Sugar River and the plant has a capacity to draw 120 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water from the dam.

The plant went on line in 1985 and the construction was bonded for a 15 year period.  After the bond is paid off the only expenses at the plant will be routine maintenance and operating costs.  It is estimated that at that time the plant will generate a net annual income of approximately $150,000.

Other Utilities

There are two electric utilities currently serving the Town - Public Service Company of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Electric Co-op.  Electric utility lines are found in all the developed areas of the town.

Telephone service is handled by Bell Atlantic through the 763 and 863 exchanges.  As with electricity, phone service is available throughout the town.

Cable television service is available to approximately 40% of all residents.  Frontier Vision Cable has the current contract to provide this service.
The rapid advances in telecommunications will obviously have a huge impact on the transmission of information in the 21st century.  In 1995 a new telecommunications tower was constructed on top of Mount Sunapee in the Town of Newbury so as to provide improved cellular and emergency communications to the Lake Sunapee region.

Community  Survey & Attitudes

The Master Plan survey asked residents and property owners to rate the water and sewer service in Sunapee.  Sewer service was rated as good by 71% of those expressing an opinion, fair by 16% and poor by 13%.  Likewise, water service was rated as good by 62%, fair by 22% and poor by 16%.

The questionnaire further asked if the Town should develop a policy of attracting  industrial, manufacturing, high tech, or commercial/retail uses and if so whether extension of water and sewer services to these areas should be done at public expense.
Only 33% of those responding said yes while 67% said no.

In regard to future utility development, the community was asked whether the Town should impose Impact Fees on future developments to help defray the cost of expanding utilities.  Sixty-four (64%) percent of the respondents indicated they favored such fees, 22% opposed, and 14% offered no opinion.


1.  Pursue sewer main extensions per Water & Sewer Department 10-year plan as coordinated with the Capital Improvements Program - The plan to extend municipal sewer service to the Perkins Pond and Mountain View Lake areas will help eliminate environmental threats to these two important water bodies.  These areas have a high density of permanent and seasonal homes - many of which were built prior to the enactment of State subsurface sewage regulations.

2.  Review and update groundwater protection plan for Town to insure that the quality of aquifers are maintained -  Future growth will certainly mean that new sources of water will need to be tapped.  Groundwater is the preferred alternative for any new developments, which use on-site water supplies and may be the most cost effective alternative for future municipal water supplies..   

3.  Develop a long-term plan for GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Mapping and Databasing of all utilities -  The advent of the Communications Age has provided numerous opportunities for municipalities to simplify maps of utilities throughout the town.  These maps will help engineers and other consultants determine future needs of the community and will help system operators with scheduled maintenance.  This mapping project should be coordinated with future tax and land use maps.

4.  Develop siting criteria for communication towers - The Planning Board needs to develop a set of land use regulations, which will restrict these towers to certain areas within Town.   Parameters such as limiting impact on residential neighborhoods, preservation of Sunapee's natural beauty, and overall environmental concerns should be weighed when drafting a new set of regulations.  



The entire Northeast has seen great economic fluctuations in the last 10 years.  The boom of the mid and late '80s was followed by a deep recession in the early '90s.  The sectors hardest hit by the recession were construction, real estate, and the defense industry.  In recent years a progressively improving national economy has led to renewed growth in almost all sectors.

The Town of Sunapee has experienced this boom/bust/boom cycle since the last Master Plan was published in 1985.  The hardest hit sector locally was the real estate market.  Several pending residential and condominium development projects within the Town were never completed due to the declining market.

Notwithstanding the recent boom/bust cycle, economic conditions have changed from an economy based on manufacturing in the early part of the century to a one primarily based on the service industry and tourism today.  This shift has been true throughout the rural areas of Northern New England.

Economic growth in a community of the current era is in large part a function of community attitudes.  This section will explore the historical trends and current economic characteristics of the Town of Sunapee and what the community attitudes are toward future growth.


       During the recession years of 1990 through 1992 the region saw a spike in the unemployment rate.  In some cases the percent unemployed tripled between 1987 and 1991.  Traditionally, however, the Claremont Labor Market Area (which includes Claremont, Newport, Lebanon, and Hanover Small Market Areas) has enjoyed very low unemployment rates when compared to other portions of the state and nation.  As of November 1997 the unemployment rate stood at   2.7 %  in the Claremont Labor Market Area.

Figure VII - 1 on the following page graphically shows the unemployment rates for the last ten years in the region.  The regional prosperity of the late '80s is reflected by the sag in the unemployment curve.  Likewise, the peak in 1991 shows the effect of the recession.
Over 80% of all jobs in Sullivan County are generated by the private sector.  Government jobs represent the remaining 20%.


        Figure VII - 1

Manufacturing represents 1/3 of all jobs in the county and Claremont Labor Market area and is still the largest sector of the local economy.  However, the areas of trade, retail and services each represent a 20% share of the economy and as a group 60% of the total employment.

Table VII-1 shows average employment by industry:

        TABLE VII - 1
        Average Employment in Sullivan County

Total Employment:               12,797  100.0%
Private Sector:         10,342   80.8%
Public Sector:           2,455  19.2%

Manufacturing:          4,036   31.5%
Construction & Mining:          355     2.7%
Transportation, Communication & Utilities       334     2.6%
Trade           2,840   22.2%
Wholesale               389     3.0%
Retail          2,451   19.2%
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate                455     3.6%
Services                2,322   18.1%

Source:  New Hampshire Department of Employment Security - 1993

        The largest employers locally are found in Newport, Claremont and Lebanon.  Those employing more than 200 people are shown in the following table:

        Table VII - 2
        List of Regional Employers

Name    Location        Type    #Employees
Dartmouth College       Hanover Education       3,000
Hitchcock Medical Ctr.  Lebanon Health Services 2,500
Sturm Ruger & Co        Newport         Manufacturing   850
Split Ballbearing       Lebanon Manufacturing     550
SAU #6  Claremont       Education         500
Dorr Woolen Co. Newport Manufacturing    330
SAU #43 Newport Education         320
Hypertherm      Hanover Manufacturing    320
Alice Peck Day  Lebanon Health Services 300
Valley Regional Claremont       Health Services         290
Thermal Dynamics        Lebanon Manufacturing    280
Tambrands, Inc. Claremont       Manufacturing    270
Pine Tree Casting       Newport Manufacturing    250
Dartmouth Printing      Hanover Service   240

Source:   1993 Regional Plan

        In Sunapee the only large private employer remaining is Micro-Precision which is located on Main Street in Sunapee Village.  Micro-Precision employs approximately 35 people and is a manufacturer of machine tools and parts..  Municipal government employs approximately 26 people on a full-time basis and 75 part-timers.  The Sunapee School District is also a major employer in the community.

        There are several small employers including retail stores, offices, marinas, restaurants, banks, machine shops, and a variety of cottage industries.  A list of businesses in Sunapee may be found in Appendix.  

        The 1990 U.S. Census showed that Sunapee did not enjoy the same robust growth in per capita income during the 1980s as the rest of the State  of New Hampshire.  Per capita income increased from $7,604 in 1979 to $14,589 in 1989, which translated into a 92% increase.  Statewide per capita income growth was 129% during the same period and nationwide the increase was 98%.  Overall Sunapee ranked 8th lowest of the region's 31 towns in per capita income growth.

        Median family income likewise grew relatively sluggishly in Sunapee during the same period.  During the 80s median family income grew from $17,731 to $35,521 - an increase of 100%.  This figure however was below the statewide increase of 111% and was 10th lowest of the region's 31 towns.

        Median family income is the better measure of economic well-being in a community.  The below average growth in per capita income and median family income translated to a troubling increase in persons living below the poverty level in Sunapee.  In 1979 it was calculated that 8.6% of Sunapee's residents were living below the poverty level and this increased to 11.1% by 1989.

        Sunapee was only one of four communities in the region to experience an increase in persons living below the poverty level during the 1980s.  Region wide, the numbers decreased from 8.9% to 7.6%.  Overall the 11.1% rate is higher than Sullivan County (10.4%) and the State of New Hampshire (8.2%).

        Sunapee has maintained a low property tax rate in relation to rates in other communities in the region.  Table VII - 3  shows a comparison of tax rates in Sunapee with other towns in Sullivan County and adjacent towns in Merrimack County.  Statistics from 1995 indicate that Sunapee had the 32nd lowest rate in the State of New Hampshire.

        One reason for Sunapee's low tax rate is the high full valuation per capita of the Town's property.  This figure is high mainly due to the high percentage of seasonal homes in Sunapee, of which the majority of these are lakefront properties.

        To keep the tax base stabilized it will be important for the Town to maintain an environment which will encourage seasonal/second home ownership.  Likewise, it will also be important for the Town to plan for moderate commercial and light industrial growth to support the year-round residents whose futures depend on a diversity of economic opportunities.  This growth will help enhance the services, which will continue to encourage seasonal/second home ownership.
Table VII - 3

        Regional Property Tax Rates/Per Capita Full Valuation - 1995

                Full Value      Regional        State
Town    Tax Rate        Tax Rate         Rank   *        Rank   *
Acworth $ 26.50 $ 27.83 11      151     
Charlestown     $ 38.49 $ 41.95 17      231
Claremont       $ 31.73 $ 39.98 16      228
Cornish $ 23.76 $ 28.27 12      157
Croydon $ 42.19 $ 23.63  7      101
Goshen  $ 22.16 $ 31.91 14      192     
Grantham        $ 13.75 $ 12.24  1      24
Langdon $ 25.92 $ 26.96  9      139
Lempster        $ 28.44 $ 27.59 10      149
Newbury $ 13.76 $ 13.48  3      27
New London      $ 12.81 $ 13.45  2       26
Newport $ 28.20 $ 35.53 15      217
Plainfield      $ 31.75 $ 31.75 13      190     
Springfield     $ 18.94 $ 20.64 5       59
Sunapee $ 14.42 $ 15.14  4       32
Unity   $ 23.77 $ 24.96 8       110
Washington      $ 17.97 $ 21.38  6      68

*- Lowest Rate = 1
Source:  Manchester Union Leader

        The master plan survey (see appendix) asked residents to give their opinion to various commercial uses within the Town.  Restaurants were rated as the most favored use followed by Retail Stores, Home Businesses, and Business Offices (ranking by those responding "favor" or "strongly favor").   

        Light Industry and Motels were both favored by a majority of the respondents but to a lesser degree than those uses mentioned above.  Respondents indicated that they were slightly against Shopping Centers.  By far the least favored use within the Town was Heavy Industry and Strip Development.

        The survey further asked whether the Town should adopt policies to attract certain types of commercial development.  By a 2-1 margin respondents were against a policy to attract industry or manufacturing.  Respondents were in favor, by a small margin, of attracting commercial and retail type uses.

        It is interesting to note, however, that even among those who favored attracted development to Sunapee, there was opposition to the Town expanding water or sewer services to serve such development if the expansion was to be done at Town expense.


        To promote economic development in Sunapee will involve a careful balancing act between growth and preservation.  The Community Attitudes Survey makes the strong point that residents do not want Sunapee to become a major commercial or industrial center.  The desire for maintaining a "small-town" atmosphere appears to be of utmost importance to the majority of Sunapee's residents.

        A town, however, cannot neglect the needs of young adults and those living below or near the poverty level.  With population growth comes the need for well-paying jobs and the potential for stable careers for the young.  Without such stability, young adults will leave for opportunities elsewhere and the community will lose an irreplaceable asset.

        The following recommendations are made to help maintain the balance between growth and preservation:

1.  Adopt a Use-Based Zoning Ordinance.     

        As mentioned in the Land Use Section, this should be a top priority for the Planning Board.  The addition of specific use areas will help set aside areas of town for commercial and light industrial growth.  In addition, residential areas will be preserved and development will be done in a well-planned manner thereby stabilizing the tax base.

2.  Encourage Home Occupations & Businesses.
        A major trend in the last 10 years has been toward the home office.  The advent of the personal computer and the ever-expanding telecommunications network has made it possible for many people to complete their work related duties at home.  The home office provides many advantages for both employers/employees including reduced commuting costs for the employee and  reduced overhead costs for the employer.  

        Many self-employed people are also using their homes for meeting clients, selling or displaying wares, or as a base of operations for off-site projects.  Small cottage industries also thrive on residential lots.

        Current Zoning and Site Plan Regulations promote the home-based occupations and businesses.  There are no use restrictions in the current Zoning Regulations and the Site Plan Regulations allow for a less complicated review for home businesses than for the strictly commercial project.  The home occupation is currently exempt from any Planning or Zoning review provided there is no impact to the property (i.e. no signs, public does not come to site, no employees, etc...)

        It will be important to allow for home business opportunities in any new Zoning Ordinance. Every district should provide for home businesses provided certain siting and design criteria are met.  Home occupations should continue to be exempted from review provided none of the site impact thresholds are met.

3.  Promote Job Training Programs for Adults.
        Job training programs are essential for helping adults upgrade skills in a society with rapidly advancing technology.  Programs currently offered through the school system should be expanded to meet changing needs.  Area employers and other organizations could become actively involved in  determining the need for programs and assisting in the financing of such.  These programs should be coordinated with programs in area communities.

                                                   HISTORIC RESOURCES


The historic resources of a community provide a sense of identity and a tie to the past.  As outlined in Section X (Population), Sunapee experienced the change from an agricultural to an industrial economy in the 19th century and from industrial to residential 20th century.  Many of the historic structures remaining in the Town are testaments to this transformation.

To look toward the future, it is important for one to reflect on the past.  The Sunapee Historical Society has been the prime group responsible for the preservation of Sunapee's past.  After organizing in 1973, the Historical Society was given the Flanders-Osborne Stable which is now used as a museum.  In addition to operating the museum, the Historical Society has published brochures and booklets to help increase the awareness of Sunapee's history.

With an increased awareness of the value of historic resources, several buildings have been saved through renovation.  Unfortunately others, such as the prominent resort hotels of yesteryear, were demolished.

Sunapee currently does not have an Historic District.  Many of the structures noted for preservation in the prior Master Plan are scattered throughout the Town.  However, areas such as Sunapee Harbor and Georges Mills have a unique character mainly due to the buildings found therein.


Historic District

Local historic districts are created for the purpose of protecting and preserving areas which contain buildings with significant architectural and historic value.  RSA 674.45 outlines the purpose of an historic district and describes the following safeguards a historic district provides:

1.       Preservation of districts in a municipality which  reflect elements of its cultural, social, economic, political, community and architectural history;
2.      Conservation of property values in such districts;
3.      The fostering of civic beauty;
4.      The strengthening of the local economy; and
5.      Promotion of the use of historic districts for the education, pleasure and welfare of the citizens of the municipality.

In order to establish an historic district ordinance, a municipality must hold the necessary public hearings and hold a ballot vote at town meeting.  These ordinances are administrated in the same way as a Zoning Ordinance or Building Code Regulation.  

National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is a list of outstanding landmarks nationwide.  These landmarks may be individual structures or groups of structures which would constitute a district.  The Register includes structures which have historical, architectural (engineering), archeological, and cultural significance.

There are certain benefits to the listing of properties in the Register.  Perhaps the most lasting benefit is the community pride associated with having such a resource.  Secondary benefits include federal grants and tax incentives (when available) for the upgrade of listed properties.

Sunapee doe not have any structures currently listed in the Register.  The old Town Hall on Main Street had been mentioned for the Register and there are other structures worthy of consideration.

Easements and Covenants

An easement is a property right granted to an entity who does not own the subject property.  Easements can be in the form of a preservation easement or a conservation easement.  The preservation easement is usually granted by the owner of an historic structure to allow a regulatory body the right to review any changes to said structure.  No such easements are in effect in Sunapee at this time.

Conservation easements deal mainly with the preservation of land and open spaces and are discussed elsewhere in this Master Plan.

A covenant differs slightly from an easement in that no interest in the real estate is granted by the owner - there is only a contractual obligation.  Sometimes a covenant may become difficult to enforce especially after the title has transferred one or more times.

Areas with proximity to water logically hold great potential for prehistoric and historic archeological areas.  Exploratory excavations in the Lake Sunapee area including Georges Mills and Newbury conducted by Howard Sargent over the past 15-20 years have confirmed the wealth of information about the lives of Sunapee's earliest inhabitants which lies buried in its soil.

About 2000 artifacts verify the presence of Paleo-Indians who hunted and camped in the area about 10,000 years ago as well as the seasonal encampments of Woodland Indians ending about 1370 A.D.  The record of these ancient times is fragile and no doubt much has already been lost due to vandalism, builders, farmers, highway construction and the inherent acidic nature of the lakefront soil.  Yet a variety of resources appear to survive in the shoreline zone including historical traces such as mill site, remains of old steamer docks and cellar holes as well as prehistoric sites.  (source:  1985 Master Plan)


1.   Preparation of a complete historic resource survey for Sunapee.

2.      The history of the town should be promoted through items such as historic markers and tours of historic sites.

3.      Review and determine if any structures or districts should be considered for National Register of Historic Places.

4.      Continue to encourage the protection, enhancement and renovation of significant architectural and historic resources.

5.      Explore conservation and preservation easements for historic structures and properties.

6.      Review the existing study prepared for the old Town Hall and determine what options may be available for its preservation.  



One of Sunapee's greatest assets and a catalyst of its steady growth is the rural character of the area.  The Sunapee region is located between the expanding urban area of southern New England and the forest and farmland to the North.  Therefore the pressure to develop open space will always be present in Sunapee.

Unfortunately it is the lure of the open space, which eventually leads to the demise of the open space itself.  If a community does not handle its growth properly, a rural community may suddenly become another built-up area without any of the charm that was once present.  

There are many opportunities for recreation in the Sunapee area.  These include swimming, boating, hiking, skiing, and numerous other outdoor activities.  The Town of Sunapee Recreation Department sponsors many organized activities for the residents of the Town and these are discussed in detail later in this section.

The Community Survey showed that the residents of Sunapee rate unpolluted natural environment, peace and quiet, and outdoor recreational opportunities in the top five reasons they most like living in Sunapee.  Furthermore, the protection of woodlands, agriculture and wetlands was favored by over 90% of the respondents.


Table II-1 in the Land Use Section shows that Agriculture, Forestlands, and Wetlands are the three major land use categories that could be called "open space".  Each of these three categories is discussed below:


What was once a major form of land use and employment in the region is slowly being relegated to the status of a relic of yesteryear.  Farming represents only 3% of Sunapee's land use.

Farm property tends to be the most desirable land for development due to the gentle slopes and scenic landscape.  It is not surprising that in a rapidly growing area the farms are the first to disappear.

New Hampshire produces less than 15% of the food that the State consumes.  The trend toward larger, more efficient farms in the Midwest and an ever-improving transportation network mean that the percentage of food from out-of-state will continue to increase.

Sunapee's agriculture can best be placed under the category of "Hill Farms".  This upland portion of the Connecticut River Valley tends to be very rocky and moderately sloping thereby limiting the ability for crop production.  Most farming in Sunapee is maple products, vegetables, and the raising of cattle.


This use represents by far the largest use in the Town of Sunapee.  Over 75% of the total land area (excluding lakes and ponds) is forestland.  Although much of the town is forestland only a small portion is in a forest management program.  

Forestlands are important for a variety of reasons.  One of the most obvious reasons is the productive capacity of the forests.  Cord wood for fuel, lumber, pulpwood, and bark or woodchip mulch are several examples of the wood products from  forests.

In addition to the forests being a renewable resource, there are many additional benefits when forestland is well managed or preserved.  Included in these benefits are visual & sound buffering of commercial uses, erosion control through binding of the soil and absorption of rainfall, recreational uses, and scenic beauty.


In 1992 the Conservation Commission authorized the preparation of a Prime Wetlands Map.  There were 23 prime wetlands delineated throughout the town.

The most notable of these wetlands is the Wendell Marsh located between Sunapee Village and Wendell on Route 11.  This wetland area covers a total of over 35 acres and is a significant wildlife sanctuary.  

Other important areas include the Trask Brook wetland in the southwest corner of Town, the wetland area near the Sewage Treatment Plant, the wetland north of Hells Corner Road, and the wetlands adjacent to the major lakes and ponds.

Wetlands are protected through numerous regulations.  The State of New Hampshire Wetlands Bureau reviews the dredging or filling of wetlands for any purpose.  If the project is large enough, the Army Corps of Engineers will take jurisdiction for review.
Locally, the Zoning Ordinance provides for a Wetlands Overlay District, which includes all areas of poorly and very poorly drained soils in Town.  There are limited uses for these wetland areas, which include forestry, agriculture, wildlife refuges, parks and recreation, nature trails, and open space.  Other uses such as driveways or utility crossings or man-made ponds must receive a special condition approval from the Zoning Board.


Public Recreation:

Organized recreation in the Town of Sunapee is mainly the responsibility of the Recreation Commission.  This commission is comprised of 7 members who meet once a month.  The following programs are currently offered by the Commission:

Youth Sports:  Included in this program are soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball.  Basketball programs are available to K-12 students and baseball/softball programs are open to students between the ages of 6 and 15.                 

Beaches:  Dewey Beach and the Georges Mills Beach are open to all residents in the summer months.  Swim lessons and other programs are offered at the beaches.  

Ice Skating:  The Commission oversees a rink for skating at the baseball field next to Fire Station during the winter months.

Adult Programs:  In past years these programs have included volleyball, tennis, and aerobics.

Numerous other recreational activities are offered by various organizations in the town.  Included are the Sunapee schools, Senior Citizens group, Lions Club, and the many churches.

The Community Facilities Section of this Master Plan discusses the facilities dedicated to recreational use.  One issue facing the Recreation Commission is the need for better facilities so as to improve and expand the programs offered.  The Recreation Commission prepared the following summary of their vision for the next several years.

        Sunapee Recreation Plan

The vision of the Sunapee Recreation Committee includes a multifaceted approach to improving the programming opportunities for the people of Sunapee.  Uniquely situated to the lakes and mountains our goal is to provide appropriate growth with in the program that complements existing offerings,  Capital improvements have been addressed first to upgrade existing facilities and then a plan to consider new facilities that would create programming opportunities not readily available at present.  This plan in fact reflects a vision that may be five to ten years down the road.


1.      Dewey Beach Building: to be remodeled or build a new structure in its place: consider locked storage space in the process.

2.      Community Center for Recreational Purposes: to include a large indoor open space for activities such as volleyball, basketball, parent-child playgroup or a community dance function.  Minimal kitchen facilities should be available as well as a lounge area for reading, chess games, or television.  Adequate rest rooms, basic office, and storage space for equipment, as well as an open space indoors would be preferable.  This building would be operated by employees of the town or recreation Committee members and would be open all year round.  This building could help the youth of Sunapee establish some positive habits and give them a place to go and recreate. Currently the present gym space available to the youth of Sunapee is on Saturdays only as the school use predicates no usage during the week in the winter.  This space should be available for all ages from senior citizen groups to families and the youth of our town.  It is an ambitious plan, but would serve to enhance the programming opportunities currently available.

3.      Tennis Courts to be built in conjunction with the plans for the high school on the land behind the current new baseball field.  Three courts would be preferable to start with though ultimately six would be necessary to run a high school program.  Courts would enhance youth offering in the spring summer and fall and offer the whole town an opportunity for use around the competitive program for girls and boys.

4.      An outdoor basketball court has been built near the ball field on Route 11 in Sunapee Village.  This project has one outdoor lighted court thanks to the support of the community and corporate sponsors.

5.      Renovation of Route 11 Field and storage shed: The route 11 field has had little or no resurfacing (or even lime, fertilizer, not to mention seeding of mud areas) in the ten + years that Sunapee Recreation has been operating.  This field is used by everyone in the town for arts/craft shows, baseball, girl's softball, adult softball, football, and soccer. Consider upgrade to include Little League dimensions.

6.      A Part-time Recreation Director has been hired to work with the High School/Elementary School to further enhance existing school programs and special programs for senior citizens as well.  

Submitted by the Recreation Commission,  October 1996

Public/Private Recreation:

The following list shows the many public and private recreational opportunities in the Lake Sunapee area:
        TABLE IX-8
Osborne's Marina Inc                                                    Sunapee
Burkehaven Boat Works                                           Sunapee
Sargent's Marina                                                        Sunapee
Beacon Marina Inc                                                       Newbury
Boat Cruises
MV Mt. Sunapee II Excursion Boat                                        Sunapee
MV Kearsarge                                                            Sunapee
Campgrounds & Camps
Crows Nest Campground, Inc                                              Newport
Rand Pond Campground                                            Goshen
Camp Coniston YMCA                                                      Croydon
Eastman Golf Links                                                      Grantham
J.H. Cain Golf                                                          Newport
Lake Sunapee Country Club                                               New London
Country Club of NH at Kearsarge Valley                          Sutton
Mt. Sunapee State Park                                                  Newbury
Norsk Ski Touring                                                       New London
Pat's Peak                                                              Henniker
Eastman Ski Touring                                                     Grantham
Tennis & Racquetball
Dexter's Inn & Tennis Club                                              Sunapee
Summer Theater
Barn Playhouse                                                          New London
Mt. Sunapee State Park (public)                                         Newbury
Dewey Beach (Town)                                                      Sunapee
Georges Mills Beach                                                     Sunapee
State Parks
Mt. Sunapee State Park                                                  Newbury
Pillsbury State Park                                                    Washington
Winslow State Park                                                      Sutton
Sunset Lanes                                                            Newport
Maple lanes                                                             Claremont
Movie Theaters
Claremont Cinemas                                                       Claremont
Hang Gliding
Morningside Recreation Area                                             Claremont


Open Space

1.  Discourage Scattered Development in Outlying Areas.

Preservation of open space can be accomplished by encouraging growth in village areas where services are readily available and restricting growth in outlying areas of town.   It is possible to allow growth in undeveloped areas but only to the extent it is carefully planned so as to protect the open space available.

2.  Require Open Space Preservation in Future Developments.

The Planning Board should consider requiring a portion of each major development be preserved as open space.  A developer may opt to provide a fee to the Town in lieu of this open space.  Such fees should be earmarked for conservation and open space projects in other areas of Sunapee.

3.  Add a "Steep Slope" Provision to the Zoning Ordinance.

Prohibiting development in areas of Town with very steep slopes (i.e. greater than 30%) would help control erosion and keep fragile forestlands intact.  Part of this provision could be a review requirement for clear-cutting which does not involve traditional development.

4.  Seek Funding for More Conservation Land Easements.

Several large tracts of land have been placed in a permanent conservation easement during the last 10 years.  This trend should continue with focus not only on the large parcels but smaller tracts, which may have tremendous conservation value.  Funds for this program may come from warrant articles presented at Town Meeting or from penalties collected when properties are removed from the Current Use Program.

5. Prepare an Open Space Plan for the Town of Sunapee.

The Planning Board should work with the Conservation Commission to identify various parcels for preservation. These parcels could be further organized into areas that would be collectively known as open space corridors .

6.  Study Potential for Scenic Designations of Certain Roads.

The Planning Board should seek input from the public to create a list of certain roads, which may be suitable for scenic designation.  The Board should review this list, tour  these roads and weigh the statutory consequences of scenic designation with the potential public benefit.
Recreation Recommendations

1.  Prepare a Study of the Recreation Needs of Sunapee.

Such a study should determine the adequacy of the existing recreational facilities of the Town and make plans for upgrading those facilities not adequate.  This plan should take into consideration growth rates found in the POPULATION SECTION of this plan.

2.  Plan for a New Community Center in the Next Ten Years.

In conjunction with other building renovations and upgrades, a community center should be proposed which will meet the needs of the Recreation Department.  This center could be housed in a mixed-use facility, which would include space for other departments.


Population trends in the Town of Sunapee have historically been linked to economic, social, and cultural events in the region and the nation.  Certain periods such as the depression of the 1930's saw slow population growth rates on a national scale but other periods such as the Westward exodus of the 1840's and 50's were mainly a regional phenomena.

In the early years of Sunapee (known first as Saville and later Wendell) the population survived for the most part on farming.  Sunapee lost much of its valuable farmland due to annexations to what is now known as Goshen and to New London in the late 1790's and early 1800's.  What was a rapidly growing population in the early part of the nineteenth century turned to negative population growth in the middle part of the century.  As the Midwest and West opened up to new settlers many residents of the Northeast who relied on farming elected to follow the promise of the fertile Midwestern lands rather than trying to make a living in "The Granite State".

The industrial revolution brought new promise to Sunapee.  The need for power to support new industries was more than met by the hydropower potential of the Sugar River.  Small mills and other factories sprang up along the River.  After the Civil War and through the early part of the 1900s the population stabilized and began increasing again with the promise of manufacturing jobs.

During this time period another industry began to blossom in Sunapee - recreation and tourism.  The railroads and steamboats brought in many visitors from the metropolitan areas of Boston and New York.  The influx of these seasonal residents seemed to have a major impact on the development in the Town but little impact on the overall population.

With the exception of the economic boom of the 1920s, the period from 1910 to 1960 was marked by either very slow or even negative population growth in Sunapee.  Permanent job opportunities were limited during this period and the two World Wars had a draining influence on Sunapee's overall population growth.

The last 30 years has seen the most robust period of growth in Sunapee's history.  From 1960 to 1980 the population more than doubled from 1164 to 2312.  This remarkable growth could be attributed to a combination of both regional and national factors.  The completion of the interstate highway system made many rural areas such as Sunapee readily accessible to the urban corridor to its south.  There was also the cultural phenomena of the late 1960s and 1970s where many city dwellers were leaving the "rat race" to find a slower pace of life in a rural area.  Sunapee was prime for massive in-migration due to its new found closeness to Boston, Hartford and New York combined with the pristine surrounding of the Lake Sunapee region.

       With worries that growth would spin out of control after the 1970's, Sunapee's population growth again slowed down during the decade of the 1980's to a historically "normal" level.


        The table below shows the distribution of Sunapee's population by age group.  The table readily shows the impact of the "baby boom" with the 25-44 year old age group by far the largest (using roughly 20-year increments).  The median age of 35.9 years is an increase over both 1970 and 1980 which had median ages of 31.7 years and 33.6 years respectively.

        TABLE X-1  
        Population Distribution by Age Group (1990)

Age Group       Number  Percent of Total

Under 5 years   158
5 years - 17 years       515    32.9%
18 years - 20 years     74
21 years - 24 years     96
25 years - 44 years     850     33.2%
45 years - 54 years     287     20.2%
55 years - 64 years     229
Over 65 years   350     13.7%

        2,559   100.0%
Median Age:  35.9 years

Source:  1990 U.S. Census

Transient Population

        One aspect of Sunapee's population that does not appear in U.S. Census data is the relatively large population of summer residents.

        It is estimated that Population nearly doubles during the months of June, July and August as a result of the influx of summer residents.  This estimate is based on the number of seasonal homes in Sunapee which comprise nearly half of the housing stock.  

        The impact of this transient population must be treated seriously in future land use planning.  Although certain needs such as schools may rely on a full time population figure "2559", other needs such as emergency services, highways, utilities, recreation, etc. should look at a maximum population figure of nearly 5,000 residents during the height of the summer season.  

Comment on Town Population and School Enrollment

        In order to predict future Sunapee population growth the trend of previous growths was examined.  A trend line was calculated in graph X-4 which was based on population census from 1910 through 1990, by means of linear regression analysis.  This line (Lin 1910) when compared with the normal population census numbers, as shown by the curve labelled "Normal No.", exhibit similar growth slopes.  While the actual population exhibited anomalous growth during the period 1970 - 1980, the slope of the trend line closely matches that of the l980 - 1990 period; therefore a prediction of future population growth was made by extending the trend of the 1980-1990 growth.  This results in a predicted population for the years 2000 and 2010 of 2806 and 3053, respectively.  The l990 Census was 2559.  The numbers used in the "Normal No." curve for the years 2000 and 2010 are the predicted population for these years.  
        The Sunapee School System enrollment has been essentially flat in the years 1988 - 1992.  During the 1993 School year there was an anomalous enrollment increase amounting to 24 students or 4.6%.  This increase was mainly in the K through 7 enrollment with an increase of 17 students or 5.3%.  Over the period 1998 - 1993 the 8 through 12 enrollment has decreased by 11 students, or 4.1%.  A plot of the enrollment data, Graph X-4, shows the increase over the 1992 - 1993 period and the steady increase of K - 7 with steady decrease of 8 - 12 enrollments.  In order to predict future growth, a trend line was calculated, using linear regression analysis, and based on the actual enrollments over the 1988 - 1993 period.


        TABLE X-3

                        Natural Total
Year    Births  Deaths  Increase        Population

1980    17      26      - 9     2312
1981    25      23      +2
1982    25      12      +13
1983    33      18      +15
1984    24      14      +10
1985    27      22      +5
1986    24      16      +8
1987    23      16      +7
1988    29      15      +14
1989    30      25      +5
1990                            2559

New In-migration        247     61      186     78% of growth

Natural Increase and Migration

        Natural increase in population is defined as the excess of resident births over deaths.  Migration is the influx of people moving in and out of town.

        As Table X-3 shows there was a natural increase of 61 persons in Sunapee during the l980's.  This compares with an In-migration of 186 additional persons.  This In-migration accounted for 76% of Sunapee's growth during the l980's which was significantly less than the 95% of growth during the l970's.

        The impact of this transient population must be treated seriously in future land use planning.  Although certain needs such as schools may rely on a full-time population figure (2559), other needs such as emergency services, highways, utilities, recreation, etc... should look at a maximum population figure of nearly 5000 residents during the height of the summer season.

        APPENDIX A

        (identified in l989)

1.  Schools and Sherburne Gym

2.  Lake Sunapee

3.  Abbott Library

4.  The Harbor and Bandstand Area

5.  Dewey Beach

6.  Churches
6-a.  St. Joachim Catholic Church
6-b.  St. James Episcopal Church
6-c.  Community United
        Methodist Church of
6-d.  Community United
        Methodist Church of
        Georges Mills

 7.  Sunapee Historical Society Museum

8.  Mount Sunapee State Park

9.  The Big Boats
9-a. MV Kearsarge
9-b. MV Mt. Sunapee

10.  Mountain and Lake Vistas

11.  Lighthouses
11-a.  Loon Island
11-b.  Burkehaven
11-c.  Herrick Cove
12.  Old Town Office Building
13.  Wendell Marsh

14.  Historical Buildings
14-a. Moses Knowlton House
14-b.  Woodbine Cottage

15.  Coffin Park

16.  Seven Hearths

17.  Traditional Events
17-a. Annual Firemen's Ball &
17-b.   Town Meetings

18.  Lake Sunapee Yacht Club

19.  Farming

20.  Sunapee Industry
20-1.  Trow Lumber Company
20-2.  Little Sprout Farm
20-3.  Micro-Precision  


                                                   APPENDIX B


CDS Appraisals/Mastin
R. B. Hill

Jim Hawkins

Lake Sunapee Bank
Sugar River Savings Bank

Pete Chase Marina
Paul Gallup
Bo Muller
Osborne's Marina
Sargent's Marina
Dana Whipple

R. P. Johnson

Dick's Used Cars
Phil Johnson - Auto Agent
Jackson's Garage
Underground Auto

Bailey Electric
George Chait Construction
Currier Construction
Michael Dashner
Noel Eastman
Gallup Trucking
Grant Construction
KDL Construction
NorthCape Design
Ostrom Builders LLC
Paddock Construction
Stoddard Plumbing
Stocker Woodworks

Jim Rooney

Evans Expressmart
Georges Mills Country Store
Community Store

Ellen Wirta

Harding Hill Farm
Jolyon Johnson Farm
Richardson Farm
Victor-Ella Farm

Kathy's Place
Harbor Falls Deli
Pizza Chef

Sunapee Graniteworks

Lake Sunapee Insurance

Wash Tub

Burkehaven Motel
Dexter's Inn
Georges Mills Cottages & Lodging
Inn at Sunapee
Moses Knowlton House
        Jim Rooney

Trow's Mill

Richard Bly

Micro Precision

Bishop Belle Real Estate
Martin Bradie/Ted Wayland
Common Sense Marketing
Georges Mills Realty
Harbor Light Realty
Ideal Properties
Mountain View Real Estate

Alden of Sunapee        
Eastman's Garden Center
Holly Cottage, Woodbine
Janet's Bazaar                     
Prospect Hill Antiques             
Small Change Kilims
Wild Goose Country Store
Younge & Olde Antiques     

Abbott, Sonny - Septic             
Vicki Branch - Prevention Therapies
Prime Cuts Hair Salon
Herbert's Clock & Watch Repair    
Bush Maintenance  

North Star Self Storage

MV Kearsarge
MV Mt. Sunapee

Touchette Travel Trailers

Kearsarge Travel

Wendell Vet Clinic

Georges Mills Video
Sunapee Video

Furniture In Design

        APPENDIX C


Lot - Taken By Deeding
Messer Rd
Upper Ski Tow
Stagecoach Lane
Off Harbor Hill
Treatment Plant
Treatment Plant Rd
Treatment Plant
Route 11
Crowther Chapel
Stagecoach Rd
Ski Tow
Edgemont Rd
Dewey Property
Route 11
Dewey Property
Route 11
Dewey Property
706 Route 11
Pump Station
Granliden Rd
Tyler Bartlett Lot
Jobs Creek Rd
Landlocked Lot
Sargent Rd
Former Wentzell
Sargent Rd
Transfer Station
89 Avery Rd
Transfer Station
Avery Rd
High School
10 North Rd
Backland-Wood Lot
Trow Hill Rd
Pump Station
Jobs Creek Rd
Eastman Cemetery
North Rd
Eastman Cemetery
North Rd
Gm Water Reservoir
Pleasant St
Ledge Pond Property
Prospect Hill Rd.
Georges Mills Reservioir
Prospect Hill Rd.
Spaulding Lot
Route 89 - Town Line
Shore Front Strip Ledge Pd
Ledge Pond
Shore Front Strip Ledge Pd
Ledge Pond
Shore Front Strip Ledge Pd
Ledge Pond
Georges Mills Beach
Cooper St
Fire Lane
Jobs Creek Rd
Fire Lane
Jobs Creek Rd
Route 11 & Main St
Gm Fire Station
807 Jobs Creek Rd
Snyder Lot
Fernwood Point Rd
Pump Station
Woodland Rd
Lower Village Cemetery
Lower Main St
Elem School Playground
School St
Sm Lot Boarder Sugar Riv.
Lower Main St
Old Landfill
Route 11
Across From Old Landfill
Route 11
Part Of Dewey Property
Garnet St
Dewey Beach
Garnet St
Pump Station
Garnet Rd
Pump Station
Elementary School
22 School St
St Address
Ballfield - Fire Station
Route 11
Highway Garage
9 Sargent Rd
Land Between Sargent & Fs
Sargent Rd & Route 11
Pump Station
Garnet St
Pump Station
Garnet St
Information Booth
530 Route 11
21 Edgemont Rd
Town Office
23 Edgemont Rd
Coffin Park
High St
Parking Lot
Main St
Old Community Store Lot
38 Main St
Parking Low
Main St
Abbott Library
542 Route 11
Parking Area
Garnet St
Rest Rooms Park
Main St
Ben Mere Property
Lake Ave
Police Station
58 Main St
Water Building
1 River Rd
Pump Station
Lake Ave
Pump Station
Lake Ave
Pump Station
Lovejoy Lane
Pump Station
Birch Point Rd
Dwight Property
Birch Pt Rd
Row To Lake
Burkehaven Lane
Pump Station
Post Office Rd

Town of Sunapee  23 Edgemont Road, Sunapee, NH 03782  Ph: (603) 763-2212
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