Boards, Commissions and Committees Information
Established by the City Council in January 2022 with a continued mission to support the arts and non-profits who make up Portsmouth's cultural economy and impact Portsmouth's economy as a whole.
Created by vote of the City Council on September 20, 2021 to amend the City ordinances by creating an Audit Committee whose primary purpose is to recommend an external auditor to the City Council. In the event the auditor identifies any serious exceptions, the Audit Committee shall advise and work with the City Council as to next steps.
The Building Code Board of Appeals hears and decides appeals of orders, decisions or determinations made by the building official relative to the application and interpretation of the various city adopted construction codes. (5 members, 2 alternates; 5-year terms) For further information, please contact the Inspection Department at (603) 610-7243.
The Commission has the authority to establish standing subcommittees on matters pertaining to the operation and performance of cable companies within the City. The Commission meets as often as deemed appropriate and necessary to ensure the proper operation of the Franchise Agreement. (5 members, 1 alternate; 2-year term initial appointment, 3-year terms for reappointment) For further information please contact Suzanne Woodland at (603) 610-7204.
This permanent committees provide advice and recommendations to the City Manager and the City Council with respect to all issues affecting municipal cemeteries, including the solicitation and acceptance of grants; the expenditure of any funds for specific improvements; and any expenditures from the Cemetery Trust Fund. It is the responsibility of the Cemetery Committee to encourage the restoration, preservation, and safeguarding of Portsmouth's historic cemeteries and their history for future generations.
The City Council voted on June 6, 2022 to establish the COVID Response Task Force Blue Ribbon Committee for six months to evaluate challenges and identify low-cost, high-impact recovery solutions that use ARPA monies. The CRTF will be composed of Citizens of Portsmouth, local Non-Profit Representatives, and the City Manager as an ex-officio member who can incorporate city staff and resources.
The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) is the official advisory board for the City of Portsmouth's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Its role is to advise the City's Community Development staff on emerging community needs and facilitates public involvement in the CDBG program planning process. For further information please contact Community Development Coordinator Elise Annunziata at (603) 610-7281.
The Citywide Neighborhood Committee (CNC) advocates for the neighborhoods in Portsmouth to assure that all aspects of City government work through two basic principles: protection and preservation of the quality of our neighborhoods. General committee meetings consist of steering committee members, representatives from the city’s neighborhood groups and interested community members
The Mayor appoints a City Council representative to serve as a liaison with COAST. The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) has served the seacoast region of New Hampshire (Rockingham and Strafford Counties) and Berwick, Maine with affordable, safe transportation since 1982. For further information please contact Public Works Director at 603 766-1420.
The Conservation Commission is charged by statute with the protection and proper utilization of the City's natural resources. It considers and makes recommendations to the New Hampshire Wetlands Bureau and/or the City's Planning Board on matters affecting natural resources. The Conservation Commission has an interest in ensuring the proper utilization and protection of natural resources and the protection of watershed resources within Portsmouth. (7 members, 2 alternates; 3-year terms) For further information please contact Environmental Planner Peter Britz at 603 610-7215.
The role of the Economic Development Commission is to ensure continued economic prosperity and preservation of the qualities that attract and retain businesses in the community. The Commission makes recommendations to the City Council on a wide variety of issues related to economic development, including business development, public-private partnerships, maintenance and development of the commercial, industrial and central business districts, and business attraction programs. (9 members, 4-year terms) For further information please contact Assistant City Manager for Economic Development Sean Clancy at 603 610-7220.
In order to create a more efficient system for the City to adopt and adjust municipal fees, a process was adopted to review municipal fees annually. The Fee Committee consists of two City Councilors, the City Manager and a Finance Department representative. For further information please contact Andrew Purgiel at 603 610-7221.
Convened for the purpose of reviewing the City Charter, Council Ordinances, Council Rules, and Council Policies and required to report back to the City Council on committee progress and any recommended alterations to those documents.
The Historic District Commission reviews exterior changes to buildings and structures located within the Historic District. (7 members, 2 alternates; 3-year terms) For further information please contact Nick Cracknell at 603 610-7328.
The Historic District Commission shall consist of seven members and two alternates appointed by the City Council. One of the members shall be a City Council member and another may be a Planning Board member as provided by State Law. At least two members shall be residents of the Historic District and at least one member shall be a person owning or being employed in a business within the Historic District. All appointees must be residents of Portsmouth. All members are required to have demonstrated interest in and commitment to promote the purposes of historic districting as stated in this Ordinance. A member's term serving at the time of enactment of this Ordinance shall not be affected. Future appointments, however, shall be filled in accordance with the provision of this Section. (Amended 9/21/98; Amended 11/22/2010)
The Portsmouth Housing Authority provides quality housing to people with low and very low incomes; ensures that all residents pay fair and reasonable rents; promotes fair housing to people of all ethnic backgrounds, ages and abilities, and strives to accomplish these goals through quality, caring services. (5 members, 5-year terms) For further information please contact Housing Authority Director Craig Welch at 603 436-4310.
Created to review all current zoning and policies surrounding housing and development to encourage sustainable, diverse, and affordable development including expanded multi model transportation. With a report back to the City Council on recommended alterations to the zoning and existing policies along with any new zoning or policies to be considered important to furthering the City’s Goals.
The Portsmouth City Council’s Legislative Subcommittee meets regularly with our Senator and Representatives to review legislation of interest to the City. The Committee is comprised of (Council Representatives TBA) and non-voting members City Manager Karen Conard and her City staff designee, Jane Ferrini. The Legislative Subcommittee meetings and Agenda are posted on the City’s website and the meetings with our Legislative Delegation are televised on Channel 22.
Board of Library Trustees adopts bylaws, rules and regulations for the conduct of its own business to determine objectives that will result in the continuing growth and improvement of Library services and establishes policies to attain these objectives. (9 members, 3-year terms) For further information please contact Library Director at 603 766-1710.
Guided by the City Council's Public Input Process, the 7 member Steering Committee's charge is to sponsor, oversee and implement a public process in coordination with the City Staff; second, assemble the priorities and principles resulting from the process and report back to the City Council. The input will be used in the crafting of successful application to the National Park Service to transfer of the property from the General Services Administration (GSA) to the City under the Historic Monument Program.
The Planning Board acts on Site Review, Subdivisions, Lot Line Relocation, City Council Referrals and Conditional Use Permits. (9 members, 2 alternates; 3-year terms) For further information please contact Planning Department at 603-610-7216.
The Portsmouth Economic Development Loan Program (PEDLP) Board is an all-volunteer advisory group that assists City staff in reviewing CDBG-funded loan applications and making decisions on loans applied for under the City's for-profit and non-profit loan programs. The loan program for for-profit businesses is not currently accepting applications for new loans. (3-year terms) For further information please contact Elise Annunziata at 603 610-7281.
At their August 23, 2021 meeting, the City Council voted to approve the creation of the Portsmouth Energy Advisory Committee (PEAC) in the form of a Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) with appointments by September 20th. The PEAC mission will be to research the risks and opportunities of a Community Power program for Portsmouth under RSA 53-E, which allows towns and cities to aggregate their customer demand and purchase electricity in bulk for savings and a more rapid shift to renewables.
The Portsmouth Housing Endowment Fund (PHEF) Board's role is to formulate general policies regarding the operation of the City's first-time homebuyer's program, HomeTown (which is funded through the Portsmouth Housing Endowment Fund), and establish specific policies as the need may arise, dictated by program demands. (7 members, 3-year terms). For further information please contact Community Development Coordinator Elise Annunziata at 603 610-7281.
Using the 2017 Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Prescott Park Master Plan as a guide, advise the City Manager with respect to park policies; events, activities, and services in the Park; and operations of licensees and serve as a communication forum.
The Recreation Board assists the Recreation Department in planning a citywide recreation program. The Board advises the City Manager and City Council in regard to recreational needs. (10 members, 3-year terms) For further information please contact Recreation at 603 427-1547.
Appointed by Mayor Blalock on July 10th, 2017, this Committee has completed its charge and is no longer an active Committee. The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Renewable Energy Committee was charged to report back to the City Council for adopting a phased Renewable Energy Policy to be implemented by City Staff when applicable.
Founded by Council action on October 5, 2020, the group's stated mission is: To review and communicate the latest science on the health and environmental effects of PFAS, to monitor federal and state level legislative changes, and to anticipate policy changes that could impact the City of Portsmouth.
The City of Portsmouth is a member of Sister Cities International and has forged formal agreements with the following cities based on the interest and international connections of Portsmouth residents:
- Nichinan, Japan (1985)
- Parnu, Estonia (1990)
- East Antrim, Ireland (1992)
- Agadir, Morocco (1995)
- Severodvinsk, Russia (1995)
- Kitase, Ghana (2004)
Portsmouth also has other international relationships with cities through the Friendship Cities Program. This program is a way for the City to initiate relationships on a less formal municipal government basis than through an official Sister City relationship. Friendship Cities focus primarily on promotion of cultural and commercial ties. Portsmouth has Friendship City relationships with:
- Portsmouth, England
- Szolnok, Hungary
- Santarcangelo di Romagna (2019)
The Site Review Technical Advisory Committee reviews Site Review Applications for the Planning Board and makes recommendations to the Planning Board. The Planning Board acts on all Site Review applications. For further information please contact Planning Director Juliet Walker at 603 610-7296.
The Committee’s charge is to develop options for future use of City-owned property in these areas and report back to the City Council with strategic recommendations as to how the City can best use its property in service to the community. Topics to be covered should address land use, urban design, public infrastructure, and timing. The Committee should make semi-annual reports to the Council until it has reached completion of its charge.
The Committee on Sustainable Practices was established by the Mayor and City Council to help them lead the City toward increased sustainability, a goal of the City's 2005 10 Year Master Plan. The Committee's work focuses on three main areas:
- Increasing awareness of the importance and value of sustainable practices among Portsmouth residents, business owners, non-resident employees of Portsmouth businesses, visitors to the City, municipal staff, and other stakeholders;
- Advising the City Manager and City Council on improving the sustainability of City operations including such aspects as the energy efficiency of City buildings and vehicles, purchasing guidelines, and alternative fuels; and,
- Advising the City Council on a sustainable approach to the future growth and redevelopment of Portsmouth.
The Trustees of Trust Funds have the fiduciary responsibility for the City's Trust Funds. The Trustees also oversee the management and operations of Prescott Park under the guidelines of the Prescott Trust. (3 members, 3-year terms) For further information please contact City Attorney Robert Sullivan at 603 610-7204.
The Board of Adjustment consists of seven members and two alternates. The Board typically meets on the third Tuesday of every month. The Board rules on requests for Variances and Special Exceptions from the Zoning Ordinance as well as Appeals from Administrative Decisions.