Zoning Boards of Adjustment (“ZBA’s”)
New Hampshire municipalities are permitted to establish zoning boards of adjustment, or ZBA’s, by statute. Every zoning ordinance adopted by a local legislative body must include provisions for the establishment of a ZBA to enforce the local ordinance. RSA 673:1.
Members of the ZBA
Each ZBA must consist of five (5) members. RSA 673:3, I. Members of the ZBA may be elected or appointed in a manner prescribed by the local legislative body. RSA 673:1; RSA 673:3, I.
General Functions of New Hampshire ZBA’s
While each zoning ordinance is unique, all New Hampshire ZBA’s perform the same general functions and have the same general authority and power. Generally, all ZBA’s perform two categories of functions: 1.) interpreting the local zoning ordinance; and 2.) granting exceptions, variances, and/or waivers from the zoning ordinance upon sufficient finding.
In interpreting the local zoning ordinance, a ZBA may interpret the written language and the application of the terms of the ordinance to an application or other request presented to the Board. Within the purview of this right includes the ability of a ZBA to authorize appeals of municipal permits (RSA 674:13, I) and the ability to determine applicability of the ordinance to existing structures (RSA 674:19), among others.
Local ZBA’s are also empowered to make variances, exceptions, and certain waivers to the requirements of local zoning ordinances upon sufficient application and evidence of necessity. RSA 674:13, I.
In general, ZBA’s perform many necessary land control and compliance functions at the local level of New Hampshire government. For additional information on New Hampshire ZBA’s, or to discuss a potential ZBA matter, please contact attorney Liz Nolin.