School Street Lot Struggle to Meet Zoning Requirements

By Paul Conyers

The Hudson Zoning Board of Adjustment oversaw a variance request from Craig Parks for his property on 41 School Street at the Zoning Board’s last October meeting. The request would split a 20,332 sq. ft. lot into two separate lots.
“If the variance is granted, this application process will be a modest single-family dwelling, which consists of the other houses immediately in the neighborhood,” Parks explained in his presentation to the board.
The current lot already has a two-story home, and the requested division would allow Parks to build a second house in the same area. He confirmed that the new lot would require an address change, and most of the 41 School Street property is currently empty.
While the Zoning Board agreed that a variance would not seriously impact the neighborhood, the main issue was the requirement of unnecessary hardship, something needed for any variance in Hudson.
“I don’t see hardship on the property as it currently exists, there’s plenty of use of the property. The only reason why there seems to be a hardship now is that you want to subdivide,” said board member, Norm Martin. “In my mind, it doesn’t meet the criteria for the variance, there’s no hardship on the property.”
Parks’ main issue was the frontage between the street and the building. He claimed that keeping the subdivided property compliant with town zoning laws was possible without the variance, but would necessarily include an awkward design that would be inconsistent with other homes in the area.
Nancy O’Neil Molnar of nearby 13 Second Street was at the meeting with questions about the size and style of the newly proposed house.
“How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? And what style house is going to be put there to blend in with the neighborhood,” asked Molnar. “That whole neighborhood dates at least back to 1945. I would like to know what style of house is going in and how big.”
She was worried that a larger-than-normal, modernized School Street might look out of place.
Parks confirmed his design was “consistent with the neighborhood,” while the Zoning Board reminded Molnar that the structure was covered by the Planning Board, and asked that any other questions be restricted to land use. Nobody spoke directly for or against the application.
“The hardship criteria are definitely the hardest to pass, I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around this passing the hardship criteria,” said Alternate Board member, Tristan Dion, referring again to the standards every variance application must meet. “It’s hard for me to pass this and say that it’s fine.”
As many older houses in the area predated modern zoning laws, the board was sympathetic to the application, but ultimately voted to deny the variance on legal grounds.
The Hudson Zoning Board will have its last meeting of 2023 on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. in the Buxton Community Development Conference Room.

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