Authority of the ZBA

Appeal from an Administrative Decision: The ZBA can hear cases where a claim is made that the administrative officer has incorrectly interpreted the terms of the zoning ordinance. 

Special Exceptions: A special exception is a specific permitted land use that is allowed when clearly defined criteria and conditions contained in the ordinance are met.  All criteria must be determined by the ZBA to be met in order for the ZBA to grant a special Exception.

Variances: Variance is a waiver or relaxation of particular requirements of an ordinance when strict enforcement would cause undue hardship because of circumstances unique to the property. The applicant seeking a variance must be able to meet all five of the variance criteria. The five criteria are:

  1. No decrease in value of surrounding properties would be suffered.
  2. Granting the variance must not be contrary to the public interest.
  3. Denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship to the owner seeking it.
  4. By granting the variance substantial justice would be done.
  5. The use must not be contrary to the spirit and intent of the ordinance.

See "Annotations" of RSA 674:33 for more details of these criteria.

Equitable Waiver Of Dimensional Requirements: The ZBA is allowed to rule on cases where, for example, a house has been improperly sited and slightly encroaches on a setback area. However, severe restrictions and conditions apply. An applicant applying under this appeal should read RSA 674:33a carefully.

Procedure: Any person that seeks a zoning decision from the ZBA must fill out an application, prepare a list of all abutters to the property affected by the application, and pay the required fee. All appeals to the ZBA require a public hearing be held. The applicant, upon submission of the required documents will be noticed of the hearing date, as will all abutters. The requirement for the public hearing is outlined in RSA 676:7 below.

676:7 Public Hearing; Notice. -

  1. Prior to exercising its appeals powers, the board of adjustment shall hold a public hearing. Notice of the public hearing shall be given as follows:
    1. The appellant and every abutter and holder of conservation, preservation, or agricultural preservation restrictions shall be notified of the hearing by certified mail stating the time and place of the hearing, and such notice shall be given not less than 5 days before the date fixed for the hearing of the appeal. The board shall hear all abutters and holders of conservation, preservation, or agricultural preservation restrictions desiring to submit testimony and all nonabutters who can demonstrate that they are affected directly by the proposal under consideration. The board may hear such other persons as it deems appropriate.
    2. A public notice of the hearing shall be placed in a newspaper of general circulation in the area not less than 5 days before the date fixed for the hearing of the appeal.
  2. The public hearing shall be held within 30 days of the receipt of the notice of appeal.
  3. Any party may appear in person or by the party's agent or attorney at the hearing of an appeal.
  4. The cost of notice, whether mailed, posted, or published, shall be paid in advance by the applicant. Failure to pay such costs shall constitute valid grounds for the board to terminate further consideration and to deny the appeal without public hearing.