Public Meeting Scheduled On Ossipee Lake Marina Expansion

Freedom — October 20, 2006 — Ossipee Lake Marina has asked the Freedom Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for approval to store an unlimited number of boats and trailers outdoors and to use adjacent Alvino Road to funnel traffic to a proposed boat washing facility.

A public hearing on the applications is scheduled for Tuesday night, October 24th at 7 PM in Town Hall, according to a notice published on Wednesday in the Conway Daily Sun.

The applications ask the ZBA to modify decisions the Board made in 1997 and 2002. In 1997 the Zoning Board limited the number of boats stored on the property when it granted special exception approval for the Marina to construct two new boat storage buildings. No more than 225 boats and trailers may be stored indoors on the property and no more than 10% additional boats and trailers may be stored outside the buildings.

Similarly, the use of Alvino Road would require the ZBA to overturn its 2002 prohibition against the Marina’s use of the steep and narrow dirt road that runs adjacent to the business. Zoning officials denied the Marina’s previous request to use the road after hearing testimony on safety concerns from the town’s fire chief and adjacent property owners, including YMCA Camp Huckins. Access to the road from the Marina is currently limited to emergency vehicles.

Previous Applications
Ossipee Lake Marina, located on North Broad Bay, is a grandfathered non-conforming business in the town’s residential district. As such, material changes in its business are subject to the approval of the ZBA and the public hearing process.

The new request for special exceptions is the fifth set of applications the current owner has made since purchasing the property. In addition to the 1997 request to construct boat storage buildings, which was approved, the owner applied in 1998 to create a restaurant, which was denied.

In 2002 hundreds of people attended public hearings on a special exception request for a master expansion plan that would have doubled the business footprint and created new buildings and a boat washing facility. In denying the plan, the ZBA ruled that it was an impermissible expansion of a non-conforming use that failed to meet five of the 20 criteria required by the zoning ordinance, including demonstrating that it would not have an adverse impact on the character on the surrounding area.

Weeks later, the business filed five new applications covering separately and individually most of the expansions that were rejected in the consolidated plan. While the ZBA denied three of the applications, it approved two of them by granting after the fact approval for the owner to use a parking lot and a bathhouse building he had constructed without required zoning permits.

The Marina appealed the ZBA’s decision on the three rejected applications and subsequently sued the town in State Superior Court. In December, 2003 the court upheld the ZBA.

Enforcement Questioned
The Marina’s new applications come at the end of a contentious year in which the town’s Selectmen were accused of undermining zoning by altering the ZBA’s limits on the Marina’s outdoor boat storage and the use of Alvino Road.

After being questioned about their decisions that the Marina could use Alvino Road for fishing tournament participants and could increase the ZBA-imposed limits on outdoor boat and trailer storage, the Selectmen rescinded their approvals. The Selectmen’s decision to permit the Marina to use the shoreline of adjacent residential land for business purposes still stands, however.

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