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Old 01-18-2018, 09:15 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by TiltonBB View Post
But keep in mind that the variance they are asking for requires them to meet very specific criteria and they must satisfy all of the points on the list. ....

.... One of the requirements is that you have to show a hardship. I am not sure how the petitioner feels that they meet this requirement.
Actually, they are NOT seeking a variance, and hence do NOT need to show hardship. They are seeking a special exception under the zoning bylaw. The special exception they are requesting is to permit a "conference center" use on the property. Under the bylaw, any given use is either "permitted" (ie single family residential), "permitted by special exception" (ie conference center), or not permitted (ie grocery store).

Under the Laconia zoning bylaw, there is no use listed for a summer camp. Accordingly, they selected a use that is permitted by special exception, that they felt most appropriately mimics a summer camp. If they were to be granted the special exception, the use "conference center" would be permitted on the island in perpetuity.

In order to obtain a special exception for a use that is permitted by special exception, the applicant needs to demonstrate the following:

(a) The use requested is specifically authorized in this chapter.
(b) The requested use will not create undue traffic congestion or unduly impair pedestrian safety.
(c) The requested use will not overload any public water, drainage or sewer system or any other municipal system, not will there be any significant increase in stormwater runoff onto adjacent property or streets.
(d) The requested use will not create excessive demand for municipal police, fire protection, schools or solid waste disposal services.
(e) Any special provisions for the use as set forth in this chapter are fulfilled.
(f) The requested use will not create hazards to the health, safety, or general welfare of the public, not be detrimental to the use of or out of character with the adjacent neighborhood.
(g) The proposed location is appropriate for the requested use.
(h) The requested use is consistent with the spirit and intent of this chapter and the Master Plan.

So, the ZBA has a fairly wide degree of latitude in making these determinations. While the applicant has the burden of proof in establishing the above criteria, they are not required to demonstrate hardship.

If the applicant does file suit, they will need to establish that the ZBA wrongly interpreted these criteria. I suspect they will also need to demonstrate that a "conference center" and a "summer camp", are one and the same. If a summer camp is not equivalent to a conference center, they would then need a variance, and would be required to demonstrate that utilizing the land as single family residential, vs a summer camp, presents a hardship.

While I appreciate the applicants goal, I think they have an uphill legal battle.
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