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Case 152-001 – Interpreting the town codes. I find reading and trying to interpreting the town code somewhat amusing. There are lots of different definitions to keep track of, different zoning requirements and permitted uses and at the end of the day, huge disparity in outcomes.
Let us take into consideration recent application to the Zoning Board of Adjustments from a Hudson resident, residing in Zone G1. Specifically Case 152-001 whereby a local resident wished to expand his on-line sales of firearms from a FFID 03 license selling antique firearms to an FFI 01 license enabling him, presumably to expand his business, while allowing him access to NH State Police and FBI to perform background checks. The applicant shared the following information:
· Principle use remains as his home for his family
· This is a secondary use and will only use a small office space
· This use would only occur within the residence
· There will be no exterior display, no exterior storage, no sign
· There will be no noise, vibrations, dust, smoke, electrical disturbance, odor, heat or glare produced.
· Being primarily an internet based business, there will not be any substantial increase in traffic
· His driveway can handle any need for parking
· There is no need for a vehicle for this business, he has a personal vehicle
· There are no employees, he (Mr. Applicant) will be the only one involved
Public input brought some valid questions to the discussion:
Mr. Public Input #1 noted that strangers would then be coming to the neighborhood. Mr. Applicant stressed that there would be no retail sales and only scheduled appointments would enter the neighborhood.
Ms. Public Input #2 stated that appointments are okay with her and asked what if someone just shows up with guns. Mr. Applicant responded responded that, he has no website and relies on “word of mouth” for advertising and added that there are specific dealers in his community, that, for example, he deals with on a frequent basis, furthermore no ammunition would be sold.
Several others concern of excessive traffic and safety of children in the area. Others expressed concerns how this business might affect reputation of neighborhood and that could affect property values.
The applicant expected approximately 12 scheduled appointments per year.
Role call vote was 4:1 against the application with one member noting concerns that this was a slippery slope.
The case came up again on December 17 meeting with no new input from the applicant. Ultimately the case was denied and rightfully so. According to town code article 334-24 Home Occupations, Subsection F - On-site retail sales are an expressly prohibited home occupation special exception use.
So let us look similarities to HLC:
Both applicants mainly focus on on-line sales and both proposed uses are located in Zone G1.
Both rely mostly on delivery of packages to customers, rather than on-site sales. In the case of the firearms dealer, mandated overnight or 2nd day delivery appears to be required by federal law. In the case of Amazon, they utilize a variety of delivery services for the final mile (which we need to be clear is not part of the HLC proposal). This frequently includes the USPS, Amazon trucks and third party contractors with overnight delivery available and goals of attaining same day delivery.
Let us look at a few of the points from the gun dealer and contrast with Amazon / HLC development, again both in zone G1.
Size of the development
· For the gun dealer - This is a secondary use and will only use a small office space and only the applicant as an employee
· For Amazon – Development of ~ 3M sq-ft of warehousing / distribution center, thousands of employees, sub-contract drivers and service providers.
· For the gun dealer - There will be no exterior display, no exterior storage, no sign
· For Amazon – Amazon is proposing significant changes to signage along 3A to facilitate traffic into an out of the facility as well as guide traffic more efficiently through new proposed road improvements.
· For the developer - There will be no noise, vibrations, dust, smoke, electrical disturbance, odor, heat or glare produced.
· For Amazon – Extensive studies have been performed and provided by the developer regarding noise, pollutants requiring significant mitigation efforts to contain the impact on abutters and the local area in general.
· For the gun dealer - Being primarily an internet based business, there will not be any substantial increase in traffic. Possibly 12 trips per year.
· For Amazon – Being one of the world’s largest internet based retail business, extensive development of highway and roadway improvements are proposed. The facility will see thousands on trips per day into and out of the facility. 24 Hours, 364 days per year.
For Parking Spaces and Commercial Vehicles
· For the gun dealer His driveway can handle any need for parking, There is no need for a vehicle for this business, he has a personal vehicle
· For Amazon – Parking spaces for ~800 trailers, docking bays for ~ 400 tractor trailers, employee parking spaces well above 1000.
Isn’t it ironic? Two vastly different applications for use of land zoned G1 but a surprising amount of similarities. Both are mainly on-line retail, one has minimum impact on local residents. The safety concerns, impact on property values of the residents surely are important to take into consideration. The larger HLC project offering very significant impact on town residents, environmental concerns, traffic concerns. Both primarily use delivery service to ship products to their customers. One would have little impact on local traffic, the other significant. The minimal impact project is promptly denied, the other goes on for months.
Indeed approval of the HLC distribution center is a slippery slope.
You can read the meeting minutes for case 152-001 at this link to the town website:
You can read additional draft meeting minutes for case 152-001 at this link.