Rochester Releases Video on Land Use Laws

City of Rochester
Daniel Fitzpatrick, City Manager
31 Wakefield Street
Rochester, NH 03867


Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

Rochester Releases Video on Land Use Laws

ROCHESTER – City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick is pleased to announce that the latest chapter of City Manager’s Corner is now online for residents to watch.

Designed as a public service announcement, the half hour video, broken into three parts, goes into detail about the city’s land use ordinances, otherwise known as zoning ordinances, and how they affect residents on a day-to-day basis.

“Zoning laws, though sometimes difficult to understand, are for the protection of everyone,” City Manager Fitzpatrick said. “Think of zoning ordinances as a contract between you and your neighbors that ensures your property values are not affected by future developments. While there are exceptions to the law, residential and commercial zoning areas are set up for the benefit of everyone.”

City Manager’s Corner, a video series in which City Manager Fitzpatrick and his staff discuss a variety of municipal topics, are released approximately every other month on the city’s video hub.

In the first segment of the video on zoning, Jim Campbell, Director of Planning and Development explained the meaning of zoning ordinances, which are put in place by city government to guide development, and how they are adopted.

During the second part of the video, Jim Grant, Director of Building, Zoning and Licensing Services, explained how to obtain an exception or variance on a zoning law. First, go the Building, Zoning and Licensing section of Rochester’s city website. Once there, on the left side of the page, click on the “zoning” tab to figure out what zone you’re in and what are the permitted uses within your zone. Those who need a zoning variance can download the application to do so in that section as well.

If applying for a variance, five criteria must be met, which City Attorney Terence O’Rourke explains in the final portion of the video:

  • The variance will not be contrary to the public interest (will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood).
  • The spirit of the ordinance is observed (will not threaten public safety and welfare).
  • Substantial justice is done by granting the variance (the loss to the applicant is greater than the benefit received by the public if the variance were not granted).
  • The values of surrounding properties will not be diminished.
  • Literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship (the applicant must show that the property is somehow unique in its area and because of that uniqueness, the property is negatively affected by the current zoning in place and a variance is needed to improve the area).

For more information on zoning ordinances, contact the Planning Department at 603-335-1338 or Building, Zoning, Licensing Department at 603-332-3508.