By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A neighbor of the Howe property on Gunstock Hill Road has filed an additional lawsuit in the Belknap County Superior Court against the town of Gilford asking the court to delay any activities at Timber Hill Farm even though the Planning Board granted approval to the Howes to host weddings and like events as a type of agritourism.
Monique Twomey claims that the Planning Board acted unlawfully when it granted Timber Hill Farm a site plan approval because it went against the law regarding agritourism in New Hampshire as established by the state legislature and affirmed by a decision of the state Supreme Court.
She is asking the court to order the Planning Board to review its decision.
Attorney Joseph Driscoll said Planning Board did not distinguish between agritourism and agriculture as state law requires, which takes precedent over a decision made by the Zoning Board of Adjustments, which Twomey is also suing.
Twomey's suit claims the Planning Board didn't take into consideration the state Supreme Court ruling that agritourism is not agriculture, which is the current law in the state.
The suit also says that the Planning Board is required by law when reviewing a site plan to see that any neighboring properties are not diminished in value. Twomey submitted a report completed by a local real estate agent who said her property value could be diminished by as much as $200,000, or one-third.
She also claims there was no investigation or discussion regarding the impact of hostimg weddings on the rest of community, because she was the only one who complained. Other neighbors have spoken at length in various Planning Board meetings about the effect the 2015 events had on themselves and their families.
Twomey says the site plan allow activities in a single family residential zone that would not otherwise be allowed. She cites allowing a place of gathering, the commercial serving of alcohol, music that is not contained, and outdoor lighting.
The site plan allows the Howes to operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. — an 18-hour window that doesn't apply to yard sales, which are restricted to eight total hours.
Although the site plan "requests" the Howes consult the police for traffic control, no traffic study was performed before the site plan was approved.
The site plan "encourages" the Howe's to shuttle people from a parking area nearer their home on non-conservation land but said "there is no measure for compliance."
New Hampshire RSA 677:15 states that "if any party appeals any part of the planning board's decision to the superior court before all matters appealed to the board of adjustment have been resolved, the court shall stay the appeal until resolution of such matters."
In addition "upon presentation of such petition, the court may allow a certiorari order directed to the planning board to review such decision and shall prescribe therein the time within which return thereto shall be made and served upon the petitioner's attorney, which shall not be less than 10 days and may be extended by the court."
The town has not responded yet to the latest suit. Judge James O'Neill has not yet ruled on some procedural matters it considered last week regarding Twomey's two suits against the town regarding actions taken by the Zoning Board.
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