Aichinger says 'liberty has been restored'
March 10, 2010
After a long uphill battle and much debate over property rights, Barbara Aichinger's petition warrant article, which asked that involuntary mergers of non-conforming lots in common ownership be repealed and allow involuntarily merged lots to be unmerged, passed last Tuesday.
Article 8 asked if voters were in favor of adopting an amendment to the Gilford Zoning Ordinance, and that "involuntary merged" lots by the town be "unmerged." Although the Planning Board did not recommend this article, 736 voters supported it, while 616 did not.
Aichinger said she was a victim of involuntary lot merging herself, and that her two houses on Edgewater Drive were merged, and as a result, considered to be one lot, which made it impossible for her to sell one house without selling the other.
Since town and state controversy has ensued, there was no telling where Article 8 would stand with the voters, but Aichinger said she was more than pleased with the results so far.
She said that one elderly taxpayer she knows of could finally sell her property on Varney Point at some point because this article has passed. Aichinger said she could not sell this property before, when it was considered to be two lots.
"I feel good about it. I am very happy for these families," said Aichinger. "This will be more value for the town. It is a win, win situation for the town and the property owners."
Aichinger said she talked to one family who supposedly had five of their lots merged together, and said they "wanted their property rights back."
She said if abutters wish for vacant property, they can buy the property back themselves rather than "force a neighbor to take on and merge lots," much like a situation she felt her neighbor forced her into, which turned into an ongoing dispute between the Aichingers and the Suttons on Governor's Island.
"It is just plain wrong, and this restores my faith in Gilford and in liberty," said Aichinger, who has gone before the ZBA and the Planning Board several times.
She added that property owners would now have a choice in whether they want to merge or unmerge their lots.
"I just wanted a choice and due process. We were denied our property rights, and now our rights have been restored," said Aichinger.