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Portsmouth's denial for new car dealership challenged in court

Union Leader Correspondent

July 15. 2014 8:12PM

BRENTWOOD — New England Subaru filed a lawsuit against the city of Portsmouth, claiming its zoning board of adjustment illegally denied it land variances needed to build a new dealership off the Spaulding Turnpike.

The lawsuit, filed in Rockingham County Superior Court, comes days after the city’s board of adjustment refused to reconsider the request on June 17, the lawsuit says. Portsmouth’s initial refusal on four land variances was made following a public hearing and vote on May 20.

The Norwood, Mass., business intends to buy 12 acres of a 23-acre site owned by a New Hampshire corporation called New England Marine and Industrial. The land is partially zoned commercial, while another portion is designated for residential use, according to court documents.

Residents in the area have opposed the development.

John Kuzinevich, a lawyer for New England Subaru, said in court papers that the public outcry by neighbors about the project should not have played a role in the board’s ruling.

“The board was prejudiced by neighborhood outcry concerning traffic, which is not a legitimate basis for denial given the de facto buffer three times the 100 feet required, and by a stand of trees which are in no way related to the buffer zone issue,” Kuzinevich said in court papers.

He also suggested that while one ordinance required a 100-foot buffer between a business structure and residential zone, his client provided more than 300 feet of space from the abutting neighborhood.

“The board used the wrong standard to determine the intent and purpose of the ordinance by examining the impact of the overall development of the site rather than determining if the 300 feet of de facto buffer met the intent of requiring a 100-foot buffer,” Kuzinevich said in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Subaru of New England and New England Marine and Industrial, which owns the 23-acre parcel. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Oct. 28 in Rockingham County Superior Court.

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