Zoning, Land Use and Tax Abatement

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Overview

Municipal law affects home and business property owners in myriad ways.  Zoning and planning ordinances tell you what you can do with your property, and where you can do it.   Understanding your options under taxation, and zoning and planning laws, is essential for achieving your goals.

New Hampshire statutes vest a lot of discretion and local control in the zoning board of adjustment, which hears requests for variances, special permits and exceptions to the zoning ordinance.  In all but the most straightforward of cases—and certainly in any case where you expect resistance from neighbors—it is essential to be represented by an attorney so that your request is supported by the necessary evidence, rationale and justification to meet the standards set by your zoning ordinance.  Locally appointed, volunteer zoning boards appreciate an application package that addresses zoning standards directly and provides clear, supported facts upon which they can decide your case.

Tax abatements also follow a unique statutory process with benchmarks that have to be met and legal standards that must be shown.  For high value commercial, mountain view and waterfront properties, tax abatement actions may be the only way to preserve a property for generations of family enjoyment.  Conversely, towns and cities can benefit from solid representation in demonstrating that their taxing and assessment decisions have met New Hampshire’s constitutional requirements.

Practice Focus

  • Project review to determine necessary approvals and/or strategy for approval
  • Applications for variances and special exceptions
  • Disputes between applicants for a zoning permit or variance and abutting property owners
  • Multi-board procedures that require review by both zoning and planning boards
  • Planning board advocacy (particularly with regard to PAD developments or special overlay districts)
  • Tax abatement actions at the town and state (court) levels

Representative Matters

  • Obtained a substantial tax reduction for a Sunapee lake front property owner affected by a public beach area
  • Represented an Upper Valley city successfully defeating abatement challenges to estate quality and commercial properties
  • Represented major utility in obtaining substantial tax reductions on a heavy-industrial plant
  • Obtained zoning and planning approval for the move and renovation of a century old lake house on Silver Lake in Madison, N.H.
  • Successfully appealed a zoning decision regarding dock rights and usage for a multi-party dock on Lake Sunapee
  • Obtained zoning and planning approval for additional parking that was essential for allowing a new coffee shop to open in Keene’s business district

Industries Represented

  • Energy
  • Homeowners
  • Manufacturing
  • Municipalities
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