By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — It's now up to a Belknap County Superior Court judge to determine if the Gilford Planning Board acted properly in giving a site plan approval to a family that wants to hold weddings and other outdoor events on their Gilford farm.
Attorneys for all three parties told Judge James O'Neill their side of the nearly year-long saga that has divided a neighborhood on Gunstock Hill Road, however in this particular case, he has to decide if the Planning Board acted "unreasonably or unlawfully" when it gave Andrew and Martina Howe permission to host their events.
Abutter Monique Twomey filed the suit against the town claiming that the Planning Board didn't take into consideration her rights to enjoy her property, the traffic hazards that she says will be created and the potential devaluation of her property.
Her attorney likened the proposal to putting a bar in a single-family-residential area with all of the baggage a bar brings, like noise, traffic, alcohol and drunken behavior.
Twomey said there was no way she could have anticipated the wedding events when she purchased her home and now must suffer the consequences because the Planning Board allowed what she thinks is a flawed, illegal and unreasonable use of it property.
The town claims the Planning Board considered all of the factors that went into the approval and discussed each condition, of which there are many, that are imposed on any future wedding or like events on Timber Hill Farm.
The town's attorney countered that the Planning Board found no quantified detriment to her claim that her property would be devalued. She noted that the Howes will be building a barn further away from her home to hold the events and that it will be enclosed on the side of the property that faces hers.
The Howes' attorney said the Planning Board did 15 hours of hearings and research that included two site visits. He agreed with the town that each condition of the approval was discussed separately and voted before the final 3 to 2 vote that granted the site plan.
The argument heard Monday referenced one of four lawsuits filed by Twomey against the town. One was dismissed as untimely and the other two are still pending.
Any wedding or other events on Timber Hill Farm cannot be held until Planning Board suit is litigated.
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