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Should NH protect fishermen from local zoning laws? (474 responses; 3/25/15)

Friday, April 3, 2015 14:50
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(Before It's News)

By Jacquelyn Benson

Is a stack of lobster traps an eyesore or a scenic part of local heritage? It depends on who’s looking. But when local zoning boards uphold complaints that boats and other fishing gear constitute a drain on neighboring property values, fishermen can be left up a creek. Rep. Renny Cushing hopes to change that with  HB 464, a bill that would prohibit local authorities from declaring fishing operations a nuisance solely because of a change in ownership or the character of the neighborhood where they reside. On March 25, the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked its 55,000 Facebook members to weigh in on the issue.


In response to the question, “Should NH pass a state-wide law protecting commercial fisherman from their community’s local zoning laws?”, 91% of respondents were in favor, with only 9% of those directly answering the question expression opposition. Thirty percent of total respondents opted not to give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to broader issues. In sum, the LFDA received 141 specific comments plus 333 concurrences for a total of 474 citizen responses.


Those in favor of the bill presented strong arguments that the livelihood of NH fishermen should be protected from discontented neighbors. “If they don’t like it, then stay off the coast,” one commenter wrote. “Unless there are environmental issues, a landowner should be able to do as he pleases,” said another. “The fishing communities need a bigger umbrella to protect them,” argued a third.


Opposition to the bill mainly centered on the issue rightfully being a local, not state, affair. “If towns are messing with zoning without honoring their heritage, it’s very sad. But it is not a state or fed issue to interfere with local zoning,” one poster said. “The fishermen should argue their cases before the community without getting the state involved,” another wrote.


Those addressing their comments to broader issues debated the validity of zoning laws in general, or asked whether existing NH law offered ‘grandfather’ protections for fishermen.


The nonprofit, nonpartisan LFDA takes no position on this or any issue, as this report is presented as a summary of citizen testimony. As New Hampshire’s Virtual Town Hall, the LFDA community, numbering more than 59,000, provides objective information on state issues, promotes the civil exchange of opinions, and communicates views to elected officials. To learn more about this issue or the LFDA, visit


Jacquelyn Benson is an Editor with the Live Free or Die Alliance.


Live Free or Die Alliance


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