Lyndeborough resident files appeal over zoning amendments

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/8/2023 11:48:18 AM

A Lyndeborough resident has filed an administrative appeal alleging the proposed zoning amendments on Tuesday’s ballot were included improperly, and that the Select Board filed a version of the amendments that were unofficial and unapproved by the Planning Board.

The appeal, filed by Tom Crisenton, alleges that state law requires zoning amendments to be forwarded to the town clerk, and that this was not done for this year’s round of zoning amendments.

Lyndeborough has a total of seven proposed amendments on the ballot for Tuesday, as well as a Planning Board resolution which will be voted on during Town Meeting on March 18.

Included in the proposals are requiring a 50-foot wetland buffer, adjusting the Wetlands District boundaries, adding septic systems, wells, swimming pools, antennas, satellite dishes and solar panels to the list of structures which must conform to setback rules; creating a two-year expiration date for unused variances or special exceptions; adding new definitions; and two that would add tables to consolidate information about what is allowed in the town’s established districts.

The board also is putting forth a proposal to authorize the Planning Board to require preliminary review of subdivisions and site plans, as allowed by state law, which will be debated at Town Meeting, rather than voted on at the ballot.

Crisenton alleged that the articles on the ballot had not been placed there following the proper procedure outlined by the state. By law, following public hearings on the amendments, official copies of the final proposals must be placed on file and made available to the public at the town clerk’s office, no later than the fifth Tuesday prior to the election, which this year was Feb. 7.

Crisenton alleges that the Select Board improperly voted to include incorrect and unapproved versions of the Planning Board’s zoning amendments.

Town Administrator Russ Boland declined to comment on the appeal, saying it was in the hands of the Zoning Board of Adjustment to determine whether the appeal was within its jurisdiction.

A hearing date has not been scheduled for the appeal, but Lyndeborough’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is not scheduled to meet prior to Tuesday’s election.

Boland confirmed that as of Wednesday, there was no intent to change the wording of the zoning amendments on Tuesday’s ballot, or remove them from the ballot. The amendments will appear as posted on sample ballots available on the town’s website,

Crisenton said if his appeal is granted, the proper recourse would be to invalidate any votes related to the amendments at the ballot box.

“They should invalidate it, because they were not approved by the Planning Board. It’s not the right thing,” Crisenton said.

In the same appeal, Crisenton also called into question the validity of one of the amendments on the ballot for a separate reason. One of the proposed articles creates a 50-foot wetlands buffer and changing the Wetlands District definition from any area with “poorly and very poorly drained soils” to the area delineated by the National Wetlands Inventory.

Crisenton alleged residents of the town were not properly notified of the potential change to a district boundary.

By law, if a proposed amendment to a zoning ordinance changes the boundary of a zoning district, and the change affects less than 100 properties, each property owner is required to be notified individually, by first-class mail.

Crisenton alleged that five of Lyndeborough’s six zoning districts have fewer than 100 properties, including the town’s two industrial zones, the Village District, and Rural Lands 2 and 3, and said residents of those districts should have been notified of proposed change in district boundaries. Additionally, the Rural Lands 1 district should have been analyzed to determine if there were less than 100 properties affected, Crisenton claimed.

The Lyndeborough town election, which includes voting on all zoning amendments, is scheduled for Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Citizens’ Hall, located on 9 Citizens’ Hall Road.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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