Mason, NH, July 26, 2015. At a special hearing triggered by an appeal to a change in Mason’s zoning ordinances, the selectmen voted to deny an appeal and stick with the ordinance as passed at a special town meeting June 7, 2016.
The original issue goes back to June, 2014 and is that the selectmen had shut down outdoor music concerts at “Marty’s Driving Range” because the concerts were not “specifically” listed as an allowable use under Mason’s Zoning. Over the course of numerous meetings with the selectmen, Driving Range owner, Martin Ruggiero, was told he could attempt to petition the town to change the zoning.
Which he eventually did, but not without an alleged series of SNAFU’s in the town offices that resulted in a petition article voted at a special town meeting. It passed with “outdoor entertainment” now allowed by special exception. Several of the Driving Range’s abutters were not happy with this turn of events and filed appeal with the selectmen to have them set up the process to reconsider the town vote.
Hence the hearing yesterday. Although attendance was rather large, the selectmen restricted oral argument to issues specifically listed in the appeal document, Only attorney Peter Nicosia of Nicosia & Associates, representing the appellants was allowed to speak during the hearing.
His main points were that:
1) The voters were ultimately confused between supporting the Driving Range business, but that the effect of the change was “something not intended”.
2) “Outdoor Entertainment” was not defined anywhere in Mason’s zoning and could be interpreted as most anything in the GRAPH zone. There were no cited limits on what would constitute “Outdoor Entertainment”. Redoing the process would allow “the voters to understand the sweeping implications”. As an example he cited “the accessory dwelling unit” (granny flats) section, which occupies 4 pages of Mason’s Ordinance.
Attorney Nicosia argued that redoing the process would allow a fully developed ordinance limiting the change to “outdoor music” and not leave the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which ultimately decides whether a special exception is granted, with a bunch of “general conditions”.
The selectmen were apparently not impressed and voted not to grant the appeal. Selectmen Moser pointed out that a postcard had gone out explaining what the ordinance would do, and that the vote at the special town meeting was quite substantial.
After the hearing, attorney Nicosia asked the selectmen if they would affirm a “stay of implementation” until the abbutters appeal is heard in superior court, The selectmen ducked that one, taking it under advisement.
In either case, since the selectmen sponsored this ordinance and the town voted it, it will be our tax dollars that defend it.