Marlboro Street Re-Zoning Initiative

The City is in midst of the Marlboro Street & Southeast Keene Neighborhoods’ Zoning Initiative which is exploring innovative approaches to encourage redevelopment and enhancements in the area. The initiative will focus on Marlboro Street and the area south of Water Street and east of Main Street. The final result will be proposed zoning and regulations changes that will promote reuse and redevelopment of underutilized properties, improve stormwater management practices, preserve residential neighborhoods, and strengthen the area as a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use district. Opportunities for input and participation will happen throughout the spring. 

Background Information

The goal of this initiative is to develop zoning and regulatory amendments for consideration by the Keene City Council and the Keene Planning Board to achieve the following objectives: 

1.      Pursue the goals of the 2010 Comprehensive Master Plan

2.      Encourage development and redevelopment including small scale business uses that are compatible with other uses and neighborhoods

3.      Preserve intact residential neighborhoods in and near the study area

4.      Allow reuse of former commercial and industrial buildings

5.      Encourage a pedestrian-oriented gateway streetscape including sidewalks, lighting, on-street parking, and other amenities including parks and bicycle access

6.      Recommend soil-appropriate, Low Impact Development (LID), best management practices and possible flood storage options to combine with greenway amenities along Beaver Brook

7.      Preserve the traffic capacity of Marlboro Street 

The project’s Steering Committee and the City of Keene Planning Department are guiding this initiative, which is being funded by a New Hampshire Community Planning Grant and City Capital Improvement Program funds. The City hired a professional consultant team, led by the planning and urban design firm The Cecil Group, to help carry out the project. 

This consultant team will seek significant and varied input from the community throughout the Spring and Fall of 2013 to better understand the issues and opportunities in the area.  They will reach out to a broad range of stakeholders, including area businesses and property owners, residents, and students of Keene State College, which is located next to the Marlboro Street area. There will be four public workshops, a neighborhood tour, and a visual preference survey as well as interviews and regular Steering Committee meetings. This information will help shape the recommended zoning and regulatory changes that will be implemented by the City of Keene over time. The initiative is expected to be complete by mid-2014, with the following schedule: 

·        Winter to early Spring 2013: Existing Conditions

·        Spring to Summer 2013: Three Development Scenarios

·        Fall 2013: Draft Report and Regulations

·        Winter 2013-2014: Final Report and Regulations

Additional Information: More detailed information about the zoning initiative will be available at: For additional information, contact: Michele Chalice, Planner, City of Keene at (603) 352-5474.

March 2015

April 1st, 2014

No tricks here.  The Ad Hoc Committee meets tonight to:

  • see the revised Draft Zoning Regulations document and Design Guidelines that now reflect the questions and input they gave at the last Ad Hoc Committee meeting with the Cecil Group.  The revised Draft Zoning can be found here.  And the revised Design Guidelines can be found here.
  • hear status on what is now happening with the draft zoning regulations.  Staff is still pursuing two concerns with the potential impact of the proposed zoning language and the two new zoning districts.While the project's final report is completed, it will be presented to City Council along with the Draft Zoning Regulations and Design Guidelines. Their goal is to finalize a product for the project to be presented to City Council later this summer. 

Press Release
Marlboro St. Re-Zoning Project Update
February 2014

The Project’s Report is complete – The Draft Zoning Ordinance has just begun being reviewed & discussed


This is a proofed version of the project which addressed typos and initial revisions requested by the Planning Director Rhett Lamb and the Health Director, Medard Kopczynski.  The Ad Hoc Committee has reviewed the documents.  Their comments were referred along with the public comments taken this fall and sent to our internal staff who has just completed their review.


2.        PROJECT BLOG - It’s not pretty, but it’s a log, per se, of the project online.  It is basically legible --the City does not have a web-graphics person so I stumble along with it.  It has dates with links to all aspects of the entire project:


3.        NEW HAMPSHIRE HOUSING INTERVIEW - The project is on the “Municipal Grants” page of this year’s New Hampshire Housing Annual Report: (page 8 or so under Municipal Grants)


4.        Mayor Kendall Lane and SAU29 School Board Chair Chris Coates of Keene’s cable program “Town Crier” did a project interview as well:


5.        And the 2014 Marlboro Street Re-Zoning Project Schedule:

February 4 – Ad Hoc Committee met to discuss and compile their comments on the completed report and the Draft Zoning Ordinance (Appendix A),
February 7 – Internal Staff discussion/review of Draft Zoning Ordinance (Appendix A)
March 4 – Steering/Ad Hoc Committee meeting to discuss public, Ad Hoc Committee, and internal comments with The Cecil Group.  This meeting is open to the public (meeting room to be determined)

Be in touch.




#1 - Here is the revised version of the Marlboro Street Re-Zoning project which addressed typos and initial revisions requested by the Planning Director Rhett Lamb and the Health Director, Medard Kopczynski.  Our Ad Hoc Committee will be reviewing this document along with our internal staff throughout this month.


#2 - 2014 Marlboro Street Re-Zoning Project Schedule


Tuesday, February 4 – Ad Hoc Committee Meeting to compile Final Plan and Draft Zoning Ordinance (Appendix A)


February 7 – Internal Staff Comments Review on Final Plan and Draft Zoning Ordinance (Appendix A)

Tuesday, March 4 – Steering Committee meeting to discuss public, Ad Hoc Committee, and internal comments with The Cecil Group (open to public, 5pm, room location to be determined)

Tuesday, April 1 – Community Meeting to present Final Project Report and Draft Zoning Ordinance (Appendix A)

April – Community Comment Period

Early Summer – Project presentation to City Council for Acceptance

Summer to Fall - Committee presentations/discussions/revisions of various revised zoning regulations per the project's recommendations




 It’s the New Year, it’s cold out there and the Marlboro Street Re-Zoning project is going inside as well:

1.       A Draft Final Report – a draft Final Report has been submitted by the consultant, The Cecil Group, to the City for staff and Ad Hoc Committee review.

 2.       Re-assignment of the Ad Hoc Committee - A memo to re-assign the Ad Hoc Committee will be presented by Mayor Kendall Lane to City Council on January 16th.  While the final evaluations of the report and draft zoning ordinance are expected to be completed this spring, see calendar below, the committee is interested in continuing to serve as stewards as the draft zoning ordinance becomes an internal, municipal endeavor to craft the language that creates new zones/districts within the Marlboro Street and southeastern neighborhoods’ area.  The committee’s role will shift somewhat from that of supervising the project process to that of advocates for the end products and larger vision of the amazing possibilities that can be created in this part of Keene. 

 3.    A new Citizen Ad Hoc Committee Member –The Mayor has nominated Mr. Darryl Masterson to replace Martha Curtis of the Saving Bank of Walpole who has had to move on to other obligations. Mr. Masterson and his family are long-time residents of the area.  Both he and his wife, as he says, “have lived on one end of Marlboro Street and worked on the other for quite some time” and through several flooding events.  The committee has been impressed with his attendance and participation at several of the public forums as well as the ad hoc committee meetings.  They welcome his energy as well as his enthusiasm “for bringing other neighborhood children and life back to the area.”

 4.       Revised Timeline: will be posted the week of January 13th.




 What should Marlboro Street look like in the future?

This is the week we’re focusing our two public exhibits on the recommended Marlboro Street Improvements. What kinds of uses should be encouraged, allowed and provided for in three sections of Marlboro Street proper? More biking? More trees? More crosswalks?

Comments will be gathered this week at the same two locations.  The main lobby of City Hall, 3 Washington Street is open during City hours. The Monadnock Food Co-op, at 34 Cypress Street has an exhibit as well to combine with your weekly shopping! Generally the opportunities identified for the street are:

§  Marlboro St. Road Diet-Improvements

§  Victoria /Laurel Street Extension North

§  Expanded Bicycle/Pedestrian Connections  to the Rail Trail

§  Enhanced Streetscape Standards


▪ Northern Segment - Pedestrian oriented, active, vibrant frontages and continuity, limited parking

▪ Middle segment - Building orientation towards street, with additional landscaping, mitigation of parked cars

▪ Southern segment - Emphasize landscaping and siting of active uses near the street, along bike and pedestrian paths

Come tell us your opinions on the postcards provided at the exhibits.  “Proposed Changes to Marlboro Street proper; roadway, parking, walking, bike-riding, road width, crosswalks, etc.”



The public comment period is in midst! "More student housing? More industrial uses? More businesses? Coffee shops? More single family homes?"

What types of uses should be encouraged and allowed in these southeast neighborhoods of Keene as well as along Marlboro Street for the decades to come?

Zoning comments will be gathered this week at two locations.  The main lobby of City Hall, 3 Washington Street is open during City hours. The Monadnock Food Co-op, at 34 Cypress Street has an exhibit as well to combine with your weekly shopping! Exhibits this week show Existing Zoning, Proposed Zoning along with exhibits on:

A new area, the Innovation Development District/Zone would:

·         Be centered around the former industrial zone,

·         Allow a broad mix of compatible uses: commercial, industrial, retail, housing.

·         Allow for integrated stormwater storage solutions along Beaver Brook

·         Provide for new hybrid uses such as mixed uses within a parcel or building and live-work housing,

·         Provide for innovative, shared parking,

       ·         Provide moderate scale and heights (4 stories) with somewhat lower heights along Marlboro Street.


A Downtown Edge District/Zone would:

·         Rezone the existing high density district and create new boundaries appropriate to the downtown edge,

 ·         Create this new zoning category to provide for more flexibility in the range of uses at the edge of downtown,

 ·         Allow densities consistent with an urban neighborhood

·         Provide for mixed use buildings and lots

Lastly, the proposal is to expand Low Density District/Zones:

·         Convert some Medium density areas that currently allow for conversions to student housing to Low Density which would not allow future conversions,

·         Stabilize certain existing areas so that there are no more multi-family conversions or new construction of multi-family units.

·         Allow densities consistent only with single-family neighborhoods,

·         Existing multi-family buildings and uses remain as “grandfathered” uses

·         Long-term strategy re-establishes single family neighborhoods in this area.


Come tell us your opinions on the postcards provided at the exhibits.  Zoning will be the topic through the end of this week.  Next week’s topic is “Proposed Changes to Marlboro Street proper; roadway, parking, walking, bike-riding, road width, crosswalks, etc.”




By the by, because our project area may as well be subject to climate changes...


Southern New Hampshire Climate Assessment - Next Monday, November 25th!

This coming Monday, the 25th of November, Dr. Cameron Wake from the University of New Hampshire will be presenting findings from the recently completed New Hampshire Climate Assessment, conducted in coordination with the Granite State Future project. It will take place from 3 to 5 PM at the Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) Headquarters located at 780 North Commercial Street in Manchester.

Please follow this link to register:

Contact Karen Baker at Nashua Region Planning Commission at 424-2240 x 11 or for more information



11/31/2013 Public Comments on the Stormwater Management & FLooding Recommendations - Exhibits will be posted from November 8th-14th.  Summary information can be found here.  A comment postcard can be found here




And the results of the 4th Community Forum!  Approximately 56 members of the public attended the hour-long meeting.  All 11 of the Ad Hoc Committee members were there in addition to Steve Cecil of the Cecil Group went through the following agenda:


1.      Planning Process


·         Results of previous public workshops


·         Next steps


2.      Recommendations


·         Overview


·         Land Use Vision


·         Flood and stormwater management strategies


·         Zoning


·         Design guidelines


·         Transportation strategies


3.      Questions, answers and discussion




You can read and/or print slides of last night’s video presentation here.  Questions and answers from the evening follow:










Q: Regarding the FEMA + idea of setting our finished floor elevation higher than what FEMA recommends, what is the science behind this?


A:   This plan recommends studies to determine a science-based solution.




Q: (For storing stormwater) what is the difference between Ponds/Storage Areas and Wetlands?  Do we need a combination of these methods or mainly one?


A: Expanding wetlands requires lots of space because they are shallow.  Storage pools are deeper and can contain more water during flood events, double as recreation areas when there is no flooding. However, industrial areas can pose the challenge of potential contaminants.




Q: Where could storage areas be?  Kingsbury?


A: The former Kingsbury property has always been a storage area for floodwaters, note the design of the building doors to be kept open during floods.  The former Kingsbury property could become an expanded storage area along a connected strip of storage greenway along Beaver brook.  Or stormwater storage could mix with development at the Kingsbury property if the buildings’ finished floor elevations were raised.  








Q: Could the lower section of Industrial where Markem is not also be innovative, possibly allow for future housing?


A: Markem’s property is just outside the study area.  In general, we did not want to disturb current employers but this could be considered.




Q: I hear ideas for diminishing the visual impact of parking.  But how do deal with Keene State College’s plan for additional parking along Marlboro Street?  Would this go against the plan?


A:  We’re aware of the parking ideas contained in Keene State College’s draft master plan. We would discourage this as there are many higher uses for Marlboro Street.  Our plan recommends keeping buildings along the street without a gap of a parking lot.  We need to foster strong connections along the street frontage to pedestrians.


Q: is there an intent to actually change the zoning regulations or are these all just recommendations?


A:  We are drafting the new regulatory language as we speak and will assist the planning staff in proceeding through the approval process of the City’s committees and City Council.




Q:  How would flood mitigation interact with innovative zoning? Aren’t they incompatible?


A: In this area we need to solve both issues concurrently.  A creative, mixed use building can work within floodplain regulations.  Raised finished floor elevations can allow nearby stormwater storage pools.  The City could amplify the possibilities with municipal investment.








Q: Will there be bike access to Beaver Brook? 


A: Getting public access through private property is challenging.  This project recommends a Victoria/ Street extension connecting Marlboro to Victoria Street which could provide access to Beaver Brook as well as from Marlboro to the regional bike trail.




Q: I hear you say more parking in the back of buildings and increased biking . However, biking conditions now on Marlboro Street are relatively unsafe.  How do you reconcile this as well as increased pedestrian activity?


A: These recommendations have to allow continued non-conforming uses which cause these circumstances.  However, as parcels of land change hands and uses, the revisions will also bring each parcel up to these new codes.  Step by step, (piece by piece) the properties will progress toward new zoning standards.  Additionally, new public infrastructure improvements can create leaps of progress towards safer biking and increased pedestrian accommodations. In Boston, the City will actually buy street trees for individual property owners.








Q: Changing Marlboro Street is zoning?


A: Roadways are not zoning.  The actual Marlboro Street guidance is a series of recommendations to complement the recommended zoning.  Other recommendations include the City creating a master plan for its own civic campus along with the ice rink; considerations for a coffee shop, food trucks, etc.




C: With respect to zoning, City needs to be reasonable, require compensatory storage, and provide additional municipal, stormwater storage.


A: City needs to be involved in solutions with private development; building value over time.




Comments? Suggestions? Send us an email at






Now it’s October, nearly November.  A busy summer was spent discussing the various aspects and implications of different approaches to take with the business, transportation, residential, stormwater and public space approaches within our project area.  The Ad Hoc Committee met on August 2nd  with a focus on the Overall Land Use Concepts.


On September 13th  City Staff held an internal meeting with Jason Schreiber of Nelson/Nygaard  to discuss aspects of Marlboro Street such as parking, an alternate transportation corridor, and traffic slowing measures such as chicanes, improved connections to the rail trail, and potential connections to Victoria Street along with the implications of each option. The summary memo can be found here.


On October 3rd the City held a Business Roundtable jointly with Keene’s Chamber of Commerce to share information on the HUB program which applies to all of our project area south of the centerline of Marlboro Street. This short video gives an overview of this Federal program's benefits and guidelines.


At the October 5thAd Hoc Committee meeting we had a guest, Jay Kahn the Vice President for Finance and Planning who gave the committee an overview of the Draft Keene State College Master Plan as it affects our project area. A summary of our committee’s concerns from the Chair, Chuck Redfern, can be found here, and of member Dick Berry here.


Finally, our last Community Forum is tomorrow evening, Tuesday, October 28th from 5-7pm, at the Michael EJ Blastos Community Room, 400 Marlboro Street, Keene, NH. The meeting will be videotaped by to be shown later this week on Cheshire TV.  The press release states:


 “The presentation and recommendations focus on specific topics: a land use vision, refinements in zoning, and design guidelines for new development. Additional topics include strategies for managing stormwater and flood conditions, and transportation and parking strategy to make the district safer and pedestrian-oriented.


 The recommendations include: innovative approaches to attract mixed-use development, strategies to reduce the risks of flooding, and methods to connect this area and make it more walkable and bikeable… A team of professionals in planning, design, transportation and stormwater management will facilitate the workshop. They will be presenting recommendations followed by an opportunity for question, responses and discussion for all participants. . Participation and discussion by attendees will be encouraged.”


We’ll post a summary here afterward, next steps, and next meeting dates will be posted here.






We’ve had so much going on!  It’s summer but the project’s continues. 


The third community meeting  happened on June 4th which had the public: 




A Summary of the 3rd Workshop Results can be found right here.


The Ad Hoc Committee continues to meet monthly to talk about the project.  On July 2nd we looked at Preliminary Recommendations from The Cecil Group as well as the Preliminary Stormwater Options points to discuss and debate before they begin to write the Draft Plan they’ll unveil late September. These meeting minutes will soon be available.


The following week internal staff did an initial review.  Conference phone calls with the Cecil group have been discussing particular aspects of a plan, definitions, and specifics of proposed zones.  Next week, internal staff will have a working session with Steven Cecil to discuss the various levels of regulatory change needed to accomplish the current goals.  Lastly, the Ad Hoc Committee will receive an update of these discussions at their regularly scheduled meeting on August 6th. This meeting will be held at Savings Bank of Walpole - 84 Marlboro Street from 5-6:00pm. This meeting is open to the public.






“On May 23, 2013 The Ad Hoc Committee meeting held on-site at Bentley Commons Retirement and Assisted Living facility’s Theatre Room.


Description of Regulation Options
Options Briefing Matrix


On April 23, 2013 approximately 30 people attended the second public workshop for the Southeast Keene Neighborhoods’ Zoning Initiative. The City of Keene and The Cecil Group team facilitated a two-hour interactive workshop, which was held at the Michael EJ Blastos Community Room on Marlboro Street. The purpose of the workshop was to engage the public in discussing the future of Marlboro Street and the southeast Keene neighborhoods. The workshop featured a review of the March public forum results, a visual preference survey, a discussion of case studies, and an interactive exercise to determine possible themes for the area’s future development.” 


April 23 Public Workshop Agenda


April 23 Public Presentation


April 23 Public Workshop Results




#1 Flooding, #2 Green Space, #3 Redevelop/Improve Kingsbury & Ford Properties; Results of the First Workshop for the Marlboro Street & Southeast Keene Zoning Initiative




On March 26, 2013 approximately 50 people attended the first public workshop for the Marlboro Street & Southeast Keene Zoning Initiative at the Wheelock School. The two-hour, interactive workshop was held by the City of Keene and the Cecil Group Team.  The purpose of the workshop was to engage the public in discussing the future of the project area.  The workshop featured hands-on exercises that aimed to determine the area’s positive and negative attributes as well as the community’s goals and priorities for the area’s future. A great cross section of residents, children, landlords, property and business owners were present.  Keene’s former Mayor and current area resident, Gregory Pregent, and five City Council members were in attendance as well.




Chuck Redfern, the steering committee’s chairperson gave a brief introduction.  Then the Cecil Group Team gave a presentation of highlighted findings from an “existing conditions” analysis. A first small group exercise asked participants to show on a large map, the longest walk each had made within the project area.  A second exercise asked participants to identify on a separate, large map, positive attributes of the study area (e.g. land uses, street and sidewalk conditions) that they wanted to preserve and negative attributes they wanted to see improved or changed. In the last group activity, the participants were asked to identify their goals for the study area. 




Then the large flip pads showing each group’s goals were used by participants to place their four blue dots next to the goals that they thought were most important.  The goal that received the most votes (19 dots) was "fix the flooding problem." and two goals were closely related to that issue, "enhance depth and width of brook" (7 dots) and "conduct exhaustive grant research to address flooding" (6 dots). The next highest vote-getter was "develop and preserve green space" with 15 dots.  The goal that received the third most votes was to “re-develop and/or improve Kingsbury and Ford dealership properties.”




A second community workshop will be held later this month to look at example communities elsewhere in the nation that are similar. We will analyze their zoning and regulations to see what may be helpful in developing three separate, potential development scenarios for further discussion and a later, exploratory site walk.




A flier for the 2nd Community Workshop on April 23, 2013 at 6:00pm to 8:00pm can be found here.






Thank you to everyone who attended the March 26, 2013 public workshop on the Southeast Keene Neighborhoods’ Zoning Initiative! Roughly 50 people participated in the interactive workshop, including residents, business owners, property owners, City officials and others. We received a lot of valuable feedback, which will be incorporated into this project as it is advanced over the coming weeks and months. The results of the breakout group exercises can be found here. The presentation from the workshop is available here.