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Hello, I will try to help you. Please remember I just report or interpret the law, so the outcome may not be what you hoped for.You first need to determine if you appeal has to first go to a zoning board of appeal. You have to check the local appeal process for your town. If you have a planning board of appeal that is where you appeal first. If there is no appeal board then you appeal to the Superior Court. The standard of review on appeal is that the decision was "arbitrary, capricious or so unreasonable as to constitute an abuse of discretion". This means that the zoning board is given a lot of latitude in deciding zoning issues. The zoning board has to be supported by substantial evidence. With respect to the zoning board's interpretation of the statute, their interpretation is not entitled to any particular deference by the court.
I should have mentioned that you can appeal an adverse decision of the zoning board to the Superior Court also.
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My municipality has no board of appeal. We would have to appeal to superior court. Is the standard for superior court also arbitrary and capricious? I think my lawyer blew this hearing. We prepared for months, I put in 100 hours of research. We had the case law, we had the precedent. We even had photos. He just did not spell it out for these laymen in plain English. These people aren't lawyers. All he had to say was "they ended the use of the space as a tavern when they demolished the bar. it can't be a bar without a bar." Duh, right? He confused the issues. He even confused me.
The standard I outlined is what you will face in the appeal to the court. I can understand your frustration but you still have a chance on the appeal. If you have any more questions let me know.
If I have answered all your questions, please rate my answer excellent as that is how I am compensated. If you have more questions, please let me know. If my answer was particularly helpful you can pay a bonus.