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Superior Court rules against abutters on Marty’s zoning appeal

  • Marty's Driving Range in Mason. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Marty's Driving Range Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Marty's Driving Range Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 9:56AM

For a second time, the Superior Court has upheld decisions made by town boards that could have affected an application by Marty’s Driving Range to hold concerts on the property.

For months, a site plan review application by Martin Ruggiero to expand Marty’s Driving Range to include outdoor entertainment has languished on the Planning Board’s agenda, as the board awaited resolution of lawsuits filed by abutters.

The saga of Marty’s Driving Range has been ongoing for more than two years. The Driving Range was holding a summer concert series, an activity that was outside of their allowable uses, when the town issued a cease and desist letter.  

Last year, the town held a Special Town Meeting for a single vote on a new zoning ordinance, which would allow outdoor entertainment by special exception in the General Residential Agricultural and Forestry district, which includes the driving range. Voters approved the ordinance.

Martin Ruggiero and his daughter Nicole Ruggiero, the owners of the business, then moved forward with an application to expand the business to include the concerts. The special exception was approved on Nov. 2, 2016.

The Ruggieros moved on to the site plan review process with the Planning Board, but those meetings have been put on hold since February while the suits made their way through court. The Planning Board is scheduled to meet next on Wednesday – the Ruggiero application still on their agenda. 

One lawsuit alleged that the Special Town Meeting had been improper, and that the wording of the ordinance was vague and over-broad, but the Hillsborough Superior Court ruled in June that none of the concerns had a foundation.

On Nov. 1, the Hillsborough County Superior Court ruled again on the issue – this time on an appeal of the Zoning Board decision which granted Marty’s Driving Range a special exception to allow outdoor concerts. 

Several abutters to the property, including former Zoning Board member Mike Davieau, Cheryl Davieau, Charles and Karen Countryman, Christian and Michelle Gauthier, Marek Mathieu and Emily Sumner, filed the suits. The group alleges that the process of the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s special exception was improper for a number of reasons. Among them were that the board didn’t properly consider whether the application should be considered as a regional impact, whether board members present on the property during an informal sound study should have recused themselves, that the ZBA’s final decision failed to include specific findings, and that the board lacked sufficient evidence to support their finding on the issue of noise.

Again, the court found in favor of the town.

According to the decision, issued by Judge Charles Temple, the court found “that the ZBA’s decision to grant the application for a special exception lawful and reasonable.”

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.