Court sends South Down decision back to Laconia ZBA

LACONIA — A judge has vacated a decision made by the city Zoning Board of Adjustment to grant a variance to one of the villages in South Down Shores that would have allowed it to add parking spaces and permit some residents to expand their decks. The case is remanded back to ZBA for further consideration.

The Gables neighborhood received its variance in early 2013 and the South Down Recreation Association — the association that governs all of the villages in South Down — challenged it in Belknap County Superior Court in May.

Judge James O'Neill ruled last week that The Gables had not met any of the five criteria needed to be awarded a variance from the city's ZBA, although he did rule that the ZBA has the authority to grant the variance — a power that South Down also challenged.

The five criteria are that a variance would not be contrary to the public interest, that it would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance, that substantial justice is done, that the values of the surrounding properties would not be diminished, and that the literal enforcement of the ordinance would create a hardship to the applicant.

O'Neill denied a request by South Down Recreation Association for legal fees created when The Gables filed as an intervenor in the suit.

The Gables in one of multiple villages in South Down — each with its own governing board, its own name and its own identity. There are 31 individual homes in the Gables.