Duke’s Garage update: Just The Map Ma’am, Just The Map

john-winslow-new-boston-property-1515799092As you may have read, the Town of New Boston is once again trying to put Duke’s Garage out of business by any means possible, that means ZONING. And with zoning, a town can simply bankrupt anyone without the financial means to defend themselves. This is exactly what is going on in this instance.

You would think in a case involving property rights, facts matter, but you would be wrong. Remember, the courts in New Hampshire is not what you would call taxpayer friendly.

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The case New Boston makes against John and Mona Winslow, owners of Duke’s Garage, is that New Boston Zoning places them in a residential/agricultural district.

That might be true but when zoning was adopted in New Boston it was long after Duke’s Garage was operating. The Town claims now in 2018 that he is in violation of a junkyard ordinance. But the Winslow’s do not run a junkyard. Duke’s garage is a repair, towing, fabrication business operating since June of 1966.

In 1970 New Boston tried to charge Duke’s Garage with being in violation of a state statute that prohibited more than two unregistered vehicles on a property at a time. Duke’s Garage had more than that number because the vehicles were towed there and awaiting insurance claims. Remember, Duke’s Garage is an established towing service that predates zoning and has vested property rights – part of the New Boston Ordinance when it was adopted.

What happened in 1970 when New Boston took Duke’s Garage to court?

The Town lost. The business had been in effect and was a commercial operation. To this day New Boston requires in-town towing services to have parking for ten vehicles if they want to tow for the Town. How is that supposed to work if Duke’s Garage wanted to tow for the Town, again?

But much to New Boston’s dismay a map was drawn of the so-called violations on the Winslow property as it was in 1970. The map clearly shows his garage, vehicles, and of all things – trailers. Here in 2018, New Boston is claiming Duke’s Garage may not park trailers on his property. But he built and repaired trailers on the same lot since 1966.

If you look at the 1970 map from the first time New Boston tried to shut Duke’s Garage down, you can see for yourself.

John Winslow MAP Dukes Garage, 1970

But the people who offer endless zoning amendments often have their own agendas. New Boston wasn’t quite ready to allow grandfathering of pre-existing uses when the ordinance was sold to the voters. It was a ploy to get people with businesses to vote for it. Bait and switch. If a business did that it would be called a crime.

New Boston has tried this stunt several times since 1970. They lost again in 1978 and in 1997 settled with a clean-up of “junk” with a credible list of what they wanted removed – as the law requires.

We will keep readers abreast of this abuse of pre-existing property rights and how courts interpret zoning ordinances in New Hampshire

Ed is a long time local activist and the Chairman of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers (CNHT).