To The Daily Sun,
In August of 2012 I went to the Laconia Planning Department to ask about a change of use for my property located at 355/357 Weirs Blvd., which is in the commercial/resort zone. This property has always been used as commercial, better known as the Boulevard Drive-In in the 1950s and then known as Ganong Real Estate and Crabby Dave's fast food during the late 1990s, and then just Ganong Real Estate.
After serious health problems, we had to close the real estate office and deal with more important things such as staying alive. Thankfully, we succeeded.
With 357 side of the building empty and unable to rent because of economic times as they are, my family decided to take a different venture called Hawaiian Shaved Ice. After two years, and for whatever reason, it was just not prosperous. The family talked and agreed we had to do something, so we contacted the city and applied for a change of use to sell used automobiles. Yes, a used car lot consisting of no more than eight automobiles at any one time. A "special exception" was required because auto sales is only permitted in commercial/resort zone by special exception.
At the first Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing on Sept. 17, 2012, I explained what I wanted to do: there would be no work on cars, no welding, no air wrenches!; there would be no mechanics work completed onsite; no compressors running all the time; no detailing of cars. . . just simply eight used cars for sale.
I explained that half the building was my residence — that is, 355 Weirs Blvd. — because of the past health issues, and I certainly would not deface the neighborhood because it is mine, too.
Yes, I was denied a special exception by the Zoning Board — three "no" votes and two "yes" votes, even though there was a used car dealership approved on January 17, 2012 on the same road — U.S. Route 3 — and in the same commercial/resort zone, by the same board. They said my request was denied because it was on the shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee and because of the view from the road. My property is not on the shoreline, it is on Rte. 3, a major road through the state. Yes, it has a view and I pay for it in my property taxes. Is that a detriment to the property?
I appealed the zoning board decision and asked that my case by heard again. Before I went to that second meeting on November 19, 2012, I did some research on uses that are permitted without special exception in the commercial/resort zone and discovered some were by far more abrasive than a couple of tasteful used cars parked around my lot. Instead of selling cars, some of the permitted uses are a car wash or a taxi cab company — imagine eight taxi cabs hanging around my parking lot waiting for a call. . . their engines running continuously during the cold winter months. Or is a dealership a better use for my property?
If I wanted to, I could also build storage units, a night club or a porn shop. . . yes a PORN SHOP right there on Rte. 3/Weirs Blvd. Or I could sell boats. What's the difference between boats and cars? I just don't get it.
The zoning board agreed (4-0) to re-hear my case.
On January 22, 2013 — here we go again — I was off to ZBA for a second hearing. I brought legal counsel with me so that maybe he could present my case better that I had tried to do before. He made his presentation and did a great job. He presented signed documents from a number of abutters who were in favor of what I was trying to do, taking into consideration what was permitted. Because of the way I maintain my property, we all get along.
To make a long story short, I was again denied by the majority.
I think this is very unfortunate and unfair. I truly do not understand it.