Despite New Hampshire’s motto of as the “Live free or die” state, many who live and own property here sometimes feel local land use regulations contradict our state’s motto. For years Tarbell & Brodich attorneys have represented property owners and their property rights. Among those important rights are the rights of property owners to use their property free from unreasonable local regulation. The most common types of relief from local land use regulation are variances and special exceptions from zoning ordinance provisions. Many might be surprised that most towns will require permission from the zoning board of adjustment to carry on an in-home business or to have an in-law apartment. As New Hampshire’s population ages the issue of in-law apartments will likely increase as families work to provide living arrangements for their elderly relatives. You should consider then that the your local land use laws may apply to your proposed building conversion just as they apply to a new building. This means grandfathering or vesting may not always
Zoning issues are not limited to in-law apartments and in-home businesses. Land use restrictions often permit many types of uses, but simultaneously restrict where those uses may occur (in certain zones) and within certain areas on land (setbacks). Out attorneys have experience in obtaining relief from these types of land use restrictions so that our clients can build and use their land as they like –and in compliance with the law.
Complying with land use regulations is important. The old saying “ignorance of the law is no excuse” exists in some form here in New Hampshire. In the unfortunate situation where your town or city informs you that the use of your land violates a local land use ordinance or building code ordinance via a cease and desist order, building or zoning violation notice or a building or zoning enforcement action you should contact us for our help. Sometimes the matter may be swiftly resolved upon a full reading of the applicable regulations. Other times real and legitimate disputes arise between property owners and towns. Because New Hampshire has many older structures, we are familiar with New Hampshire’s law relating to those older buildings. Older buildings can sometimes present a danger. You may be surprised to know that New Hampshire has a law that permits the government to order you to tear down (demolish) your own building. You also may be surprised to know that some towns actually prevent property owners from tearing down buildings of a certain age without first obtaining permission to do so. Whatever the case, our attorneys have the knowledge and tenacity to represent you and your rights.
Another aspect of land use is planning. While not common as recently as 30 years ago, planning review and approval of subdivisions and commercial and multi-family sites has become the norm in 21st Century New Hampshire. Almost every town and city in New Hampshire now has some form of mandatory planning board review and approval as a requirement for, and prior to building. While planning boards generally review and approve the subdivision of a large tract of land into smaller lots, for example single-family homes, in some situations even a minor lot-line adjustment may require a submission to planning board. Similarly, most businesses that move to a new location or require prior site plan approval –another reason to contact us to review and analyze your situation.