We have been submitting letters to the editors of every newspaper (email us for the list in easy-to-use format) in the state of NH to alert each town to the dangers of the newly formed Housing Appeals Board. Lately the subject of our letters has been the ruling in Francestown.
Those of us in Bedford who are concerned about this issue have been joined by at least 10 other towns and it is hoped more towns will wake up to the threat the HAB poses. The latest letter to the editor was a plea for other towns to file ‘amicus briefs’ on behalf of the appeal the town was planning to file. However, Francestown officials decided not to file an appeal after all.
We received some feedback from residents in that town. We suggested that one person who contacted us might have some connections to the developer from which she would stand to benefit. She did not respond to that question. Another person said she feared ‘authoritarianism’. What could be more authoritarian than 3 unelected, unaccountable realtors/developers sitting at the state level, with the ability to override ANY board in town with regard to ordinances (She claimed they are not laws, but ordinances — what’s the difference?) that the PEOPLE THEMSELVES voted for? So what is authoritarian? People voting for what they want for their town, or 3 people with close associations as realtors/developers?
We also learned that some of the property being questioned was being used commercially in a residential area. We are not sure if this is still happening, but it would seem that an operation of that size would be larger than what one would normally build for ‘family use’. It was discussed at length in this article in the Ledger Transcript:
Commercial status of Francestown riding arena at crux of Planning Board discussion
By ABBE HAMILTON – 7/13/20
Monadnock Ledger Transcript
The Francestown Planning Board asked a resident to determine whether a horse farm was for personal or commercial use at their meeting two weeks ago. The discussion came months after the resident constructed an indoor riding arena before town officials rescinded their initial determination that it would not require a building inspection or special exception. Owner Melissa Shattuck answered questions about her agricultural operation, Saving Grace Farm, and told the board she felt as though the project had been treated with bias since she and her husband Ron first submitted a permit application last fall.
We at BRA are not opposed to property owners doing what they want with their property, provided that it follows the rules that the majority of the townspeople themselves have voted for and approved. There are many beautiful towns in NH that do not require zoning, (i.e. Grafton) so why target a town that does require it and try to change things? Attempting to place a commercial business smack into the middle of a residential-zoned area is but one example,