Rules of Procedure
Adopted April 19, 2005
Amended May 9, 2005
These rules of procedure are adopted pursuant to New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) 676:1.
The Zoning Board is also governed by the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (especially Title LXIV, Planning and Zoning) and by the Wilton Zoning Ordinance. In the event of a conflict, state law takes precedence over the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, which takes precedence over these Rules of Procedure.
The Zoning Board has five regular members and up to five alternate members, appointed by the Board of Selectmen in accordance with Chapter 20 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance and with RSA 673:3, 673:5, and 673:6, which require that all regular and alternate members be residents of the town of Wilton and be appointed for staggered three year terms.
Regular and Alternate Members
Regular members are expected to attend every meeting of the Board to exercise their duties and responsibilities. Any member who is unable to attend a meeting or disqualified from participating in a particular case shall notify the chairperson as soon as possible. Alternate members are encouraged to attend all meetings to familiarize themselves with the workings of the board and to stand ready to serve whenever regular members of the board are unable to fulfill their responsibilities.
All regular and alternate members who are present at a meeting of the Board will sit on the Board and participate in the hearing and discussion of all matters to come before the Board, unless disqualified from participation in accordance with RSA 673:14.
All regular and alternate members sitting on the Board will be entitled to vote on procedural business of the Board, such as the adoption of rules and the election of officers.
All regular members sitting on the board will act as voting members when considering an appeal to the Board. Prior to the hearing of an appeal, the chairperson will designate alternate members to act as voting members in the place of any regular members who may be absent or disqualified.
The Board members who participate as voting members in the initial public hearing on an appeal will, when available, participate as voting members in all subsequent hearings, deliberations, and decisions pertaining to that appeal.
A chairperson shall be elected annually by a majority vote of the Board in the month of April. The chairperson must be a regular member of the Board, and shall:
- preside over meetings and hearings of the Board
- appoint such committees as directed by the Board
- affix his or her signature in the name of the Board
- be responsible for administrative matters concerning the Board
One or two vice-chairpersons shall be elected annually by a majority vote of the Board in the month of April. Vice-chairpersons must be regular members of the Board, and shall exercise all powers and responsibilities of the chairperson in the event of the absence, incapacity, or disqualification of the chairperson.
The clerk shall not be a member of the Board, but shall be an employee of the Board, appointed by the chairperson with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, and serving at the pleasure of the chairperson. The clerk shall maintain a record of all meetings, transactions, and decisions of the Board, and perform such other duties as may be assigned by the chairperson or as the Board may direct by resolution.
If the clerk is unable to attend a meeting of the Board, or wishes to participate as a party or member of the public in a hearing on an appeal, the chairperson shall appoint a member of the Board as acting clerk, or hire a substitute clerk for the occasion.
Regular meetings of the Board shall be held at 7:30 pm on the second Tuesday of every month, in the Wilton Town Hall Courtroom, or in some alternative location chosen by the chairperson. The chairperson may cancel any regular meeting if no appeals have been submitted to the Board prior to the application deadline for that meeting, and if there is no other business that needs to be conducted by the Board. The chairperson may change the date of a regular meeting after informal consultation with the members of the Board.
Other meetings may be held at the call of the chairperson or by resolution of the Board.
A quorum for all meetings of the Board shall be three members, including alternate members sitting in place of regular members.
Order of Business
The order of business for regular meetings of the Board shall be as follows:
- Call to order by the chairperson
- Introduction of Board members by the chairperson
- Minutes of previous meetings
- Public hearings continued from previous meetings
- Public hearings on new appeals
- Other business continued from previous meetings
- Other new business
- Communications and miscellaneous
Public notice for meetings of the Board shall be governed by RSA 91–A:2.
Conduct of Meetings
The Board chairperson shall preside over all meetings of the Board. In the absence of the chairperson, the vice-chairperson shall preside. If both the chairperson and the vice-chairperson are absent, the members of the Board shall choose an acting chairperson at the beginning of the meeting.
The Board will not begin considering a new matter after 10:00 pm, and will conclude the meeting no later than 10:30 pm. When the Board adjourns a meeting without having concluded all scheduled business, it may choose to hold a special meeting to deal with the remaining business from the meeting, or to continue to the next regularly scheduled meeting.
The Board may decide to modify these time limits for a meeting by majority vote at the beginning of the meeting, or by unanimous vote at any other time during the meeting.
5. Appeals to the Board
All appeals to the Board concerning matters within its jurisdiction shall be filed in the Wilton Town Offices on application forms provided by the Board. No appeal shall be considered to have been properly filed unless the appropriate forms have been completed, and are accompanied by the list of abutters required by RSA 676:7 and section 4.9 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, and any required application and abutter notification fees have been paid to the Town of Wilton.
Appeals from an administrative decision taken under RSA 676:5 shall be filed within 30 days of the decision.
All application forms, application fees, and abutter notification fees shall be adopted by resolution of the Board and shall become part of these rules of procedure.
Scheduling of Hearing
An appeal to the Board will be scheduled for a hearing at the next regular meeting of the Board which is at least 14 days after the date on which the appeal has been properly filed.
Public notice of hearings on each appeal shall be given according to the requirements of RSA 676:7, by posting in the Wilton Town Hall and the Wilton Post Office, and by publication in the Milford Cabinet, not less than five days before the hearing. The Nashua Telegraph or Monadnock Ledger may be used if it would not be possible to meet the five-day time limit with publication in the Milford Cabinet.
Personal notice shall be mailed by certified mail to the applicant and to all abutters, according to the list provided by the applicant, not less than five days before the hearing. Notice shall also be provided to the Wilton Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Building Inspector, Conservation Commission, and any other town official or board deemed by the chairperson to have special interest.
The hearing on an appeal to the Board shall have the following format, except where the Board chooses to vary it:
- The chairperson shall introduce the case.
- The clerk shall report on how the public notice and abutter notices were given.
- If fewer than five voting Board members are available for the hearing, the applicant shall be offered the opportunity to continue the case to the next meeting of the Board. If the applicant chooses to proceed with less than five voting members, then that shall not be grounds for granting a request for a rehearing.
- The applicant shall explain what relief is being sought and why he or she believes that such relief is merited.
- Other parties in favor of the appeal shall be allowed to speak.
- Parties in opposition to the appeal shall be allowed to speak.
- The applicant and other parties in favor of the appeal shall be allowed to speak in rebuttal.
- Parties in opposition to the appeal shall be allowed to speak in rebuttal.
- The Board will hear with interest any evidence that pertains to the facts of the case and any arguments relating to the applicability of the Zoning Ordinance and state zoning law to the case.
- The chairperson shall present a summary setting forth the facts of the case and the claims and arguments made for each side. Opportunity shall be given for corrections from the floor.
- The Board will close the public hearing, and may choose to deliberate on the case either immediately, later in the same meeting, or at a future meeting. When the Board chooses to deliberate on the case immediately, it may also retain the option of reopening the public hearing during its deliberations to ask additional questions of the parties.
The following general rules apply to the hearing:
- Any person who wishes to speak must provide his or her name, address, and relation to the case (as an applicant, abutter, person otherwise affected by the application, interested member of the public, or agent or counsel of a party).
- Members of the Board may ask questions at any time during or after the testimony of any person.
- Any member of the Board may, through the chairperson, ask any person to speak a second time.
- Any party to the case may, through the chairperson, ask questions of another party following that party’s testimony.
- Parties to the case shall not address one another directly, but may ask questions of another party through the chairperson.
- The Board may vote at any time to continue a public hearing to a future meeting or to a later time in the same meeting.
- The role of the clerk in public hearings is limited to recording the proceedings. The clerk may, through the chairperson, ask questions of any party for the purpose of clarifying the record. This paragraph does not apply to a Board member serving as acting clerk.
Burden of Proof
The applicant shall have the burden of proving any historical facts relevant to an appeal before the Board. Such relevant historical facts include, but are not limited to, the date on which a lot, structure, or use came into existence.
Proof that a lot existed as a Lot of Record (Zoning Ordinance Section 3.1.19) on a particular date shall require signed certification to that effect by an attorney or licensed land surveyor, accompanied by copies of the deed or deeds from the Hillsborough County Registry of Deeds that support that conclusion.
The existence of a structure or use on a particular date may be established by testimony or by documentary evidence.
Applicant’s Failure to Appear
If the applicant fails to appear at a scheduled hearing without informing the Zoning Board Chairperson in advance, the application will be deemed to have been withdrawn without prejudice.
The applicant may resubmit the original application, but must repay all application and abutter fees. The Zoning Board may, in exceptional circumstances, grant a refund of the fees for a resubmitted application.
The Board shall decide all cases within 30 days of the conclusion of the public hearing, and shall provide written notice of its decision to the applicant and to the Wilton Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, and Building Inspector.
The decision of the Board may be to approve the appeal, to approve the appeal with conditions or limitations, or to deny the appeal. Any decision of the Board shall require the passage of a motion for that decision. The failure of a motion for a particular decision is not equivalent to the passage of a motion for any alternative decision.
Votes on a motion for a decision shall be by roll call of the members of the Board. Passage of a motion to approve an appeal requires three votes in favor, regardless of the number of Board members voting on the motion. Passage of a motion to deny an appeal requires three votes in favor with five voting Board members, two votes in favor with four voting Board members, or one vote in favor with three voting Board members.
Findings of fact and reasons for a decision may be incorporated in the motion for decision, or the Board may choose to hold separate deliberations, either later in the same meeting or in a subsequent meeting, to adopt findings of fact or a statement of the reasons for the decision.
The Board may optionally choose to hold separate deliberations on the precise language of the notice of decision later in the same meeting or in a subsequent meeting.
A decision of the Board shall not be final for purposes of starting the appeal period until the Board has concluded all deliberations relating to that decision.
The records of the Board shall be kept by the clerk and shall be available for public inspection in the Wilton Town Offices during regular Town Office Hours, in accordance with RSA 673:17.
Final written decisions will be placed on file and available for public inspection within 144 hours after the decision is made, in accordance with RSA 676:3.
Minutes of all meetings including names of board members, persons appearing before the board, and a brief description of the subject matter shall be open to public inspection within 144 hours of the public meeting, in accordance with RSA 91–A:2.
The clerk is authorized to make audio or video recordings of meetings of the Board for use in the preparation of minutes. Any such recording shall be retained until after the Board’s approval of the minutes of that meeting, and until the expiration of any appeal period pertaining to any case that was considered at that meeting.
The Board may authorize the placement of any documents, records or other materials related to the business of the Board on a web site, with the clear understanding that materials on the web are not authoritative or definitive, and all materials placed on such a web site shall be marked with a disclaimer to that effect.
These rules of procedure may be amended by a majority vote of the Board at a regular meeting, provided that the proposed amendments must have been presented to the Board at the regular meeting preceding the meeting at which the vote is taken.