City convenes task force to look at zoning, starting with agriculture & signs

LACONIA — The Planning Department has convened a task force to consider revisions to the zoning ordinance, beginning with two issues — agriculture and signage — that have aroused confusion and controversy in recent years.
The committee consists of three members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) — Steve Bogert, the chairman, Suzanne Perley and Michael Foote — three members of the Planning Board — Bill Contardo, Larry Guild and Jay Tivnan — and three members of the public — Steve Weeks, Sr., John Moriarty and Joe Driscoll, Jr.
The agricultural issue arose a year ago when a resident of Bay Street, in the residential single-family district sought a variance to keep chickens, which falls under the definition of agriculture in the zoning ordinance. The ZBA discovered that the the wording of the ordinance not only restricts the keeping of chickens but also the the growing of flowers and vegetables in most parts of the city whether for commercial purposes or personal use.
The perplexities of the signage ordinance bedeviled the ZBA in 2009 when CVS applied for no fewer than nine variances from regulations limiting the number and size of signs at its store at Busy Corner. To add to the confusion, the store sits on a lot straddling two zoning districts, each with a unique set of signage regulations. And to make matters even worse, there was a question of whether the ordinance limited the number and size of signage to the business or to its frontage, with CVS contending since the building fronted on two streets — Union Avenue and Church Street — it was entitled to twice the allotted signage.
The committee will hold it first meeting on Thursday, June 27.