Wilton selectmen won’t ask for reconsideration

WILTON – The Board of Selectmen will not ask the Zoning Board of Adjustment to reconsider their finding for NTV LLC in the matter of the former fish camp beside Stoney Brook on Route 31. The ZBA ruled that the former structure is grandfathered and can be rebuilt on the same footprint.

However, the selectmen said, in light of that ruling, the new structure is subject to having a building permit and meeting all building codes.

NTV argued that because it is a “fishing camp” and not a permanent residence, it did not require a permit so did not apply for one before replacing the mostly deteriorated former structure with two new ones.

Building Inspector John Shepardson met with the selectmen on Monday, July 21, to discuss the hearing held on July 8 because the selectmen have only 30 days in which to appeal the decision.

Shepardson said, “(In my opinion) the ZBA says what was built is OK. I contend that the decision says you can now apply for a building permit, not that it’s OK that you did it.”

Selectman Kermit Williams said he agreed with that interpretation. “The ruling didn’t do anything about the issue of encroaching on the flood plain or being too close to the road.”

The board agreed that the former camp had deteriorated to a point where it was not usable. The ZBA said that “gradual deterioration” did not meet the ordinance definition of “demolished or destroyed” and ruled the building grandfathered under the statutes.

Asked why the state Department of Environmental Services had declined to enforce shoreline and flood plain rules, Shepardson said, “They are underfunded and unstaffed and are putting small local issues back to the towns to enforce.”

Williams added, “They also ignored all of the trees that were cut” along the river bank, also a violation of the Shoreline Protection Act.

Asked about a recent court ruling in the case, which was not discussed at the ZBA hearing because of timing, Shepardson said, “John Griffith (representing NTV) took it to court when they got my order to remove (what they had built) which is not allowed under the law. The judge said they had to go to the ZBA first,” which allowed the town to have the case withdrawn without prejudice and go to the ZBA.

Williams asked if the removal order “still stood.”

Shepardson said, “I think it does. They didn’t appeal my order to remove the building.”

The ZBA hearing was concerned only with the issue of grandfathering.

It was agreed that asking for a reconsideration would probably result in the case going back to court.

Town Treasurer Jerry Greene asked, “Is it worth spending more money on this?”

The camp has no neighbors, is barely visible from Route 31, and is not offensive to passers-by.

Long time resident and former Selectman Charlie McGettigan asked how much money had been spent so far. “The town used to own that property,” he said. “When we decided to sell it (then selectman) Bill Abbot bought it.”

It was later acquired by Harvey Budro who built the camp. It has not been occupied since the 1960s and very little of it was left.

Selectman Bill Condra said he did not want to set a precedent by dropping the case and that it should continue. “He has violated town ordinances. The issue is, he never applied for a building permit and it is too close to the water.”

Shepardson said that under the state RSAs, “building codes are part of the state statute. A permit is required.”

Selectman Rick Swanson said, “I think we should stand behind our building inspector”

Williams agreed. “(NTV) has already been ordered to remove the building, and that wasn’t argued” before the ZBA.

The board voted that Shepardson should “take action against the building,” trying conversation first, and resorting to the applicable fine as a last resort. The fine for building without a permit is $300.