By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILMANTON — Selectman Marshall Bishop said Wednesday that he made a mistake when he sent an email from his town account to Zoning Board of Adjustments Chairman Elizabeth Hackett complaining about a different member of that board and asking for his resignation.
In the letter, Bishop complained about ZBA member Mike Teunessen, who before he voted against Bishop's request for a special exception for his restaurant at Gilmanton Winery, said he felt that Bishop, like others, hadn't made any effort to conform to town regulations but expected the board would give an "after the fact" approval.
"I should have used my personal email account," Bishop said. "It was personal to me as a taxpayer."
The email exchange between Bishop and Hackett is the latest in a series of events that have plagued Bishop both in his role as a selectman and in his private role as the owner of a local winery and eatery. Since assuming office, the Planning Board has questioned whether he has the proper approvals he needs to operate his business. Earlier this week, its members voted that he should present an updated and current site plan review before its Nov. 10 meeting or face a cease-and-desist order.
Bishop has said that, in his opinion, he has complied with all of the requests of the previous Planning Board that gave him his approvals and that it is only since he became a selectman that his 4-½-year-old business has come under scrutiny.
He also went to the ZBA, at the request of the Planning Board, to get a back-dated special exception to operate a restaurant in an agricultural zone by converting his four-bedroom home partially into a restaurant. Teunessen was the lone dissenting vote against, saying he is tired of Gilmanton residents going forward with projects that are contrary to the town's zoning ordinances and then coming to the ZBA for after-the-fact approvals.
"I was just turned off by the fact that he put me in the same category as the other people," said Bishop, who again reiterated that he feels he has done everything the former Planning Board and town planning employees told him to do.
Once Bishop learned that Teunessen never spoke to The Laconia Daily Sun and what was reported did not come from any interviews but was a reflection of what happened at the meeting, he said he has gotten over his opposition to Teunessen's vote against him.
Bishop said in Hackett's reply to him, she expressed faith in Teunessen's ability to be fair with all ZBA applicants and he accepts her assessment.
But Bishop's frustration with his personal situation has spilled into his role as selectman. He said he made a request of the other two members of the board to go into a nonpublic session, as a private citizen and taxpayer, to discuss his situation but the other board members refused. He said he understands why the others made the decision they did.
Bishop said he is in the process of hiring his own attorney to represent his interests before the Planning Board, and possibly again before the ZBA, because he has to protect his business interests but definitely wants to be in full compliance with the town.
"I want to do what I need to do, but I don't want to get screwed in the process," he said.
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