Board of Adjustment

    Canaan Board of Adjustment (BoA)


    The BoA’s primary role is to interpret the terms of the Drinking Water Protection ordinance as enacted by the voters. It seeks to interpret the purpose and intent of the ordinance in the public interest, while at the same time protecting individual property owners from unfairness and hardship in the application of regulations.

    The BoA may grant variances or special exceptions if the ordinance allows special exceptions, and hear appeals of any decision of an administrative official that is based on an interpretation of the ordinance, pursuant to RSA 676:5. The BoA also hears appeals from the Historic District Commission and the Selectboard’s decisions on class VI and older private roads.

    The board of adjustment must act within the limits set by the ordinance and map as authorized by the voters at March Town Meeting and the Board cannot enlarge, restrict or disregard these limits.

    Appeals and Requests for Rehearing – Appeals of Administrative Decisions and Requests for a Rehearing of a BoA decision must be filed within 30 days of the decision being appealed.

    In Canaan the Board of Adjustment has the following duties:

    • Junk yard license review.
    • Appeals from:
      • Drinking Water Protection Ordinance.
      • Impact Fee Ordinance.
      • Historic District Ordinance.
      • Building Permits on unmaintained town roads.
      • Building Permits on old private roads.

    The Board of Adjustment decides cases where a claim is made that an administrative officer (typically the building inspector) has incorrectly interpreted the terms of the ordinance such as a district boundary or the exact meaning of a word or provision of the ordinance. (RSA 674:33, II). If an administrative decision is appealed to the Board of Adjustment, the board takes on the powers of the administrative official and can act in that capacity to reach the same decision, modify the decision or determine a new decision. An appeal may come from the applicant, an abutter, or some other affected party.

    The Board of Adjustment has the authority to determine that the original decision was wrong due to a misinterpretation of the laws and regulations. It also has the authority to issue a variance that will waive some portion of the existing laws. A variance is a relaxation or a waiver of any provision of the ordinance authorizing the land owner to use his or her land in a manner that would otherwise violate the ordinance and may be granted by the Board of Adjustment on appeal. There are specific criteria to be applied before a variance may be issued. (RSA 674:33)

    The Drinking Water Protection ordinance has defined areas where restrictions apply. Appeals may result from the interpretation of words in the ordinance. For example, is it a junk yard or isn’t it? Is it a snow dump or isn’t it? Other appeals may result from the exact location of the district boundary. (RSA 674:21)

    The Impact Fee ordinance has never been implemented so appeals from that are very unlikely. Town meeting adopted this ordinance in 2002, but the planning board has chosen not to implement it. This ordinance allows the planning board to determine fees for new construction such as homes, apartments, and commercial establishments. These fees would offset increased school, fire, police, road, and library costs associated with new development. (RSA 674:21 V)

    Any Historic District Commission decision may be appealed to the Board of Adjustment. Upon appeal, the Board of Adjustment would examine the HDC regulations and issue their decision. (RSA 677:17)

    Selectmen are responsible to approve building permits on unmaintained town roads (Class VI) and old private roads. Class VI roads include old town roads which were once maintained but are no longer town maintained. This frequently occurs when the last house on the road is abandoned. Typically the selectmen will approve a new building permit, if the applicant agrees to maintain the class VI road. The planning board began approving private roads in late 1975, and any private road not approved by the planning board must receive selectmen building permit approval. (RSA 674:41 II)

    Junk yard license review entails certification that the junk yard is not proposed to be placed in a prohibited area, such as next to a protected well. The junk yard application and the water district map are examined and the board issues a certificate of compliance. (RSA 236:115)

    Canaan Board of Adjustment (BoA) members are appointed by the Planning Board subject to approval by the Board of Selectmen for a term of three years.

    BoA Members Followed by Term End

    Michael Roy, 2025
    Vice Chair:
    Bill Chabot, 2024
    vacant position

    George Foley III, 2023
    Dave Shinnlinger, 2024
    Arnold Song, 2024

    Bill Bellion, 2026
    John Bergeron, 2024
    James Laffan, 2023
    Salvatore Percia, 2025
    Sherri Withington, 2025

    Instructions to Applicants Appealing to the Board of Adjustment

    The board strongly recommends that before making any appeal, you become familiar with the ordinance and also with the New Hampshire Statutes TITLE LXIV, RSA Chapters 672- 678.


    Click Here for Instructions

    RSA 676:7 requires the following:
    “The appellant and every abutter and holder of conservation, preservation, or agricultural preservation restrictions shall be notified of the hearing by certified mail……”

    An additional certified mailing is sent to the applicant (appellant) after the board has reached a decision. Count the number of certified mailings above and multiple by the current USPS certified fee for a one ounce number 10 envelope. Please check the current certified fee.

    Two newspaper ads will be run in the Valley News, one before the hearing and one after the decision is complete. There will be a fee for each ad.
    The party requesting this appeal will be charged for these amounts.

    Forms may be filled out electronically if the Form PDF is opened and saved to your own computer. In some browsers you may need to roll your mouse along the bottom of the PDF to view the Save Menu.

    Forms may be returned to the Town Office at 1169 US Route 4, PO Box 38, Canaan NH 03741

    Forms for Applicants:
    Forms for Board Members: