Paul Zimmerman Implies He May File Suit Against Tuftonboro Over Decision by Zoning Board

In a letter to Mark Howard, chairman of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, local developer Paul Zimmerman today* implied if the town does not reimburse him for $22,586.00 in expenses he may sue the town. Zimmerman incurred the expenses developing site plans to build a self-storage facility on the property next to the fire station at 181 Middle Road (Route 109A).

The property is owned by Steve Hunter and Zimmerman had planned to purchase the property and build the self-storage facility. However, self-storage buildings are only allowed in that area with a special exception to the zoning. The zoning board denied Zimmerman a special exception in October, 2016. Zimmerman then modified his plans to address to board’s concern. However, the board ruled that his amended plans were not “materially different” from the first, and therefore denied him a new public hearing in November, 2016.

181 Middle Road in June, 2017

Despite this, the zoning board later granted Steve Hunter a special exception to build a self-storage unit and he began construction this past spring.

In his letter, which includes a CC line indicating it was sent to all members of the zoning board, to the board of selectmen, and also to the Granite State News, Zimmerman wrote:

While I certainly have no qualms with Mr. Hunter building self storage buildings  (Case # 474) at 181 Middle road, as it is a perfect site for them, I do have very serious concerns with the ZBA approving his application after you denied my application  (case # 466), which was a far superior design. My presentation, done by a professional site engineer, included proper drainage design, containing all water on site, very aesthetic appeal from the street with attractive grass and landscaped berms shielding the buildings, buildings that you would barely see from the street, and protection of the wet lands on the site. It was a perfect design, fit, and use of the site.

Zimmerman’s proposal (Text on image from Zimmerman)

Zimmerman wrote that he believes Hunter’s design is inferior to his own and did not meet the requirements for a public hearing.

What is further even more troubling is the fact you denied my first application, then we came back with a modified application addressing all the concerns, only to be told that it did not substantially change and would not be heard.  Now comes along Mr. Hunter with a far inferior plan, not only did you consider his plans to be sufficiently different, which it wasn’t, you heard, and approved it.

I gracefully accepted your denial, but think you made a grave, unreasonable mistake approving a far inferior plan, while denying my application which was much more attractive well engineered and a quality asset to the community.

The Hunter application you approved was drastically inferior to the one I presented, there was no professional legitimate engineering, design, topo, drainage or landscaping provided. It was an application presented on a paper napkin that had glaring errors on it.

I find the decision of the Tuftonboro ZBA approving the Hunter design totally hypocritical, out of line, and very self serving.  Personally I am embarrassed to even know you, reasonable justice did not prevail, you did a tremendous discredit to the community.  The existing Tuftonboro ZBA should be disband and replaced with reasonable, quality decision-makers.

Kindly forward a check to me for my expenses of $22,586.00 to avoid further litigation.

When reached for comment, Mark Howard said he took issue with several of Zimmerman’s statements. He did not elaborate on which ones, but said the zoning board will discuss Zimmerman’s letter at their previously scheduled meeting at the end of this month. He also said he would attend the next selectmen’s meeting after the zoning board’s, in order to get the selectmen’s input on how to reply to Zimmerman. He said he suspected that since Zimmerman had threatened a lawsuit any reply from the town would likely come from the selectmen’s attorney, Richard Sager.

I also reached out to Zimmerman to ask for further comment. He said the letter speaks for itself and that he didn’t believe Hunter’s plan could have  overcome the hurdles that his plan faced.

Aerial View of 181 Middle Road (Text on image from Zimmerman)

*The letter is dated September 27, 2017, but was circulated today. To read the full letter, click here (PDF).

Published in Zoning Board of Adjustment
Max Ledoux

Author: Max Ledoux

I’ve lived in Tuftonboro since 2014. I grew up in Lisbon Falls, Maine (the Moxie capital of the world). I run tuftonboro.net.

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