Freedom — January 29, 2007 — In a letter to local newspapers, former Freedom zoning official Donald Bossi said he is appalled by last week’s ZBA decision to approve increased boat storage at Ossipee Lake Marina, calling it “one of the worst decisions I have ever seen.”
Bossi, who served as vice-chairman of the zoning board during a pivotal 1997 ruling on the Marina’s boat storage capacity, said the new ruling will allow the Marina to store boats “without any thought about fire, vehicle access or neighborhood economic and environmental impact.”
He said he believes the vote will invite a lawsuit because it is “in total disregard of the ruling of the Superior Court of New Hampshire,” a reference to the court’s 2003 decision upholding limits on the Marina’s growth.
Citing the ZBA members by name, Bossi characterized them as “four blind mice” and asked that residents “not forget the influence of the selectmen and selectwoman” in the vote.
Last year the Selectmen came under fire for allowing the Marina to increase the number of stored boats on the property, a contradiction of previous ZBA rulings. After public complaints, the Selectmen rescinded the decision and the Marina’s principal owner, Kevin Price, subsequently applied to the ZBA for unlimited boat storage behind a fence.
Three public hearings on the application were held, including one at which Selectwoman Donna Cupka said “The outdoor storage of boats should not be limited. They should be able to store as many boats as they can fit within their setbacks.” Cupka’s husband is a Marina employee and she told the ZBA she was speaking as a resident, not as an official.
The ZBA approval will allow the Marina to almost quadruple the number of boats it can store outside of its three storage buildings if spacing and other criteria are met. The criteria were set forth in a letter to the Board submitted several days before the final hearing by Fire Chief Gene Dow. Marina owner Kevin Price said he believes 80-95 boats can fit the chief’s standards, an increase from the 23 boats now permitted to be outside the buildings.
The ZBA ruled that Dow’s letter was evidence the applicant could meet the zoning ordinance’s special exception requirements regarding fire and safety, but abutting property owners and others at the final hearing disagreed. They pointed out that Dow had failed to appear at any of the hearings despite repeated requests to do so, and that neither the Board nor the public had been allowed to question him publicly about the plan. They also said Dow’s letter contradicted statements he made recently to abutting property owners and to the ZBA in 2002.
In making its ruling the ZBA further established on a vote of 3-1 that the expansion would not adversely affect the surrounding area, another special exception requirement of the ordinance. Board member Karl Ogren was the lone dissenting vote on the requirement.
In a brief filed with the ZBA on January 19 prior to the final hearing, opponents of the expansion cited state law, the zoning ordinance and previous ZBA rulings as evidence the application should be denied. After the Board approved the application, the attorney for the opponents said she would appeal for a re-hearing.