A zoning board of adjustment (ZBA) is required by state statute to be established once a town has adopted a zoning ordinance. The New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated and Wilmot’s local zoning ordinance are the legal basis for the ZBA’s work. It is a fundamental tenet of zoning that once an ordinance has been adopted, some property owners will be disadvantaged by certain provisions. The ZBA is a quasi-judicial body that hears and decides four types of zoning adjustment applications. The job of the ZBA, therefore, is to grant relief from the strict terms of the zoning ordinance, by making decisions on applications concerning four specific areas:
- appeals of administrative decisions (by other boards);
- grant variances;
- grant special exceptions; and
- grant equitable waivers from dimensional requirements.
Please click on the following link to view the Zoning Board's Rules of Procedure which were updated in 2017, during a regular meeting of the Board
In Wilmot, the ZBA is a five-member board with two alternate members. The ZBA members are appointed by the Board of Selectmen and serve three-year terms. One member of the Planning Board may sit on the Zoning Board as provided by RSA 673:5 III.
Following proper posting (at least 48 hours in advance), the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) meets:
- regularly twice a year, the first Tuesday in April and the first Tuesday in October, at the Town Office Building, and
- as needed to hear cases (with at least 5 days notice).
The ZBA grants both variances and special exceptions.
Special exceptions are required for specific uses, which are listed in the zoning ordinance. The zoning ordinance also includes criteria that a proposed project must meet in order for the exception to be granted.
Any proposed use may be considered for a variance; it does not have to be listed in the zoning ordinance. Some variances may be for a use that is not normally allowed in a particular zoning district. Others may be for a use that is not allowed by the ordinance anywhere in town. Unlike a special exception, the criteria that must be met to be granted a variance are prescribed by state law, RSA 674:33, which describes the powers of the ZBA. They are listed in italics in the language of the law below:
(2) Authorize, upon appeal in specific cases, a variance from the terms of the zoning ordinance if:
(A) The variance will not be contrary to the public interest;
(B) The spirit of the ordinance is observed;
(C) Substantial justice is done;
(D) The values of surrounding properties are not diminished; and
(E) Literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship.
(1) For purposes of subparagraph I(a)(2)(E), " unnecessary hardship " means that, owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area:
(A) No fair and substantial relationship exists between the general public purposes of the ordinance provision and the specific application of that provision to the property; and
(B) The proposed use is a reasonable one.
(2) If the criteria in subparagraph (1) are not established, an unnecessary hardship will be deemed to exist if, and only if, owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area, the property cannot be reasonably used in strict conformance with the ordinance, and a variance is therefore necessary to enable a reasonable use of it.
(3) The definition of "unnecessary hardship" set forth in subparagraphs (1) and (2) shall apply whether the provision of the ordinance from which a variance is sought is a restriction on use, a dimensional or other limitation on a permitted use, or any other requirement of the ordinance.
|Elizabeth Harper, Chair||2023|
|Michael Lasonde, Vice Chair||2024|
|Russell E. Jewell, Jr.||2023|
|Mary Bourque, Alternate||2023|