Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

September 10, 1997

Voting Board Chairperson Neil Faiman; members Carol Roberts & Jim Tuttle; alternate members Joanna Eckstrom & Bob Spear.
Clerk Diane Nilsson
  • U.S. Cellular/John G. Barnes - Special Exception (continuation)
  • Emily Giffin - variance

Mr. Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m.

Case # 8/13/97-5 U.S. CELLULAR/JOHN G. BARNES (continuation)

United States Cellular (applicant) and John G. Barnes (owner), Lot F-12-4, NH Route 101, in the Industrial District applied for a special exception under the terms of section 11.4(a) of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance to allow the construction of a driveway that would cross a wetland area.

Mr. Faiman read a letter from Andrew Roeper, Wilton Conservation Commission Chairman, dated 9/9/97, which stated that the commission approved of the project overall but had concerns regarding follow through with regard to erosion control, revegetation and silt fences.

Eric Morse, with T.F. Moran, presented dredge and fill plans to the Board and pointed out the four wetlands crossings sites. The first two follow a woods road, currently existing. There are four culverts requested. Erosion control notes have been placed on the plan to comply with Conservation Commission concerns. The concerns addressed are: maintenance of silt fence,revegetation, and calculations for the size of the culverts.

Resident Donna Hoover wanted to know the extent of the dredge & fill project. Mr. Morse stated that the total impact is 2600 sq. ft. which is considered a minimum impact by the state. He further stated that the road would be used only 2-4 times a month.

Ms. Roberts asked about the CC’s follow through concerns. Mr. Morse stated that the two concerns are the maintenance of the silt fences and the revegetation. Mr. Spear read from the note on the plan which states that silt fences shall be kept clean during construction and removed when all slopes have a healthy stand of vegetative cover. Erosion control measures will be inspected on a weekly basis and after every rainfall during construction. Mr. Morse noted that the access road will belong to U.S. Cellular.

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to approve the special exception as shown on plan dated 9/4/97 including erosion control notes dated 9/8/97, seconded by Mr. Tuttle with all in favor.

Mr. Faiman stated that the applicants would receive a notice of approval in the mail.

Case # 9/10/97-1 GIFFIN

Emily Giffin, Lot A-48, Stagecoach Road, in the Residential/Agricultural District & the Watershed District has applied for a variance to section 14.3.1 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance to allow a subdivision which would result in the creation of a lot with less than the area required in the Watershed District; or, alternately, for a determination that the Planning Board was incorrect in determining that the proposed subdivision is not allowed without such a variance.

Mr. Faiman noted that clerk Diane Nilsson is an abutter on this case.

Jack Kelly, a surveyor with Meridian Land Services, represented Emily Giffin and explained that Ms. Giffin would like to subdivide Lot A-48, the actual acreage of which is 12.1 exclusive of any wet areas, in such a way as to preserve the existing house and field, surrounded by stone walls, which measures 2.28 acres. She would like the 2.28 acres to be one lot in the subdivision and the remaining 10.12 acres to be the other lot. The Watershed overlay district calls for 6 acre minimum lots. She does have enough dry land to make two 6 acre lots but wants to keep the lower house and fields separate from the higher elevation woods land.

Mr. Kelly then questioned whether this watershed district was even needed anymore due to the fact that the town has a newer reservoir which it currently uses. Mr. Faiman pointed out that the primary water source of the new reservoir is the old reservoir. Mr. Tuttle (who is a member of the Water Board) concurred and added that the new reservoir acts as a holding tank for the old reservoir water. Mr. Tuttle also stated that he didn’t see any problem with this request.

Mr. Kelly noted that density would not be increased with this plan and by allowing the forest lot to be larger, a more aesthetic building site could be chosen. He also stated that the owner would like to keep the lot in current use and 10 acres are needed in order to do that.

Ms. Eckstrom asked how much land is presently in current use. The answer was 11.4 acres.

Abutter Donna Hoover asked how the 10.12 acres could be protected from any future subdivision, if acreage requirements were reduced in the future? Could a note be put on the plan that would prohibit future subdivision? Mr. Faiman answered that a variance could be granted with that restriction. Ms. Hoover responded that if the variance were granted with that restriction, she would have no problem with the request.

Resident Charlie McGettigan disagreed with Ms. Hoover’s request to limit future subdivision, stating that he felt it was an unfair restriction to the property owner.

Abutter Bill Ladd stated that he felt that the Watershed requirements constitute a hardship on this particular piece of land because the spirit of the ordinance is being met by this subdivision because the focus is really on density. But the technical requirement of a 6-acre lot constitutes a hardship because the spirit is being realized in the subdivision but for the technical requirement of the 6-acre lot. He felt that the Board should grant the request.

Abutter Diane Nilsson asked how many buildable acres remain after subtracting all the necessary setbacks on the 10.12 acre parcel. Mr. Kelly answered that there are about 4 or 5 acres remaining. Mr. Faiman stated that there are two orders of business for the Board. First, the Board must decide if the Planning Board was incorrect in requiring a variance. He also stated that he personally feels that the Zoning Ordinance calls for 6-acre lots in the Watershed and so the Planning Board was correct in requiring a variance.

Ms. Eckstrom asked if there were any wetlands on the smaller 2.28 acre parcel. Mrs. Giffin answered no.

The Board seemed to agree that this application is not a permitted use. The Planning Board was correct in not accepting it for review without a variance.

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to find that the proposed subdivision does not meet the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and therefore is not permissible without a variance, seconded by Mr. Tuttle with all in favor.

The Board then looked at the application for a variance.

Mr. Faiman felt that the ordinance allows the applicant to subdivide the lot, and as far as the spirit of the ordinance goes, it doesn’t matter that much where you draw the subdividing line. The question is, what’s the hardship.

Abutter Bill Ladd stated that one hardship seems to be that the ordinance prohibits the applicant from drawing the line, in this particular situation, where the natural division between the corner lot and the larger lot occurs, which is the stone wall. The stone wall exists at the point at which the slope of the property drops considerably, so topographically, this is a natural subdivision line. He also stated that the Watershed district zoning prohibits the applicant from subdividing this property in a fashion that allows the greatest latitude for construction of a septic system and the location of a house that is not only conforming but is also probably more in the public interest as far as aesthetics are concerned.

Mr. Faiman stated that he liked the natural subdivision line argument. Ms. Eckstrom and Mr. Spear concurred. Ms. Eckstrom asked if there were any other 2-acre lots in the area. There are a few, and there are also 5-acre lots and larger lots in the area.

Abutter Nilsson voiced approval for the variance request.

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to grant the variance to allow for a subdivision that would create a 2.28-acre lot and a 10.12-acre lot according to the plan dated July 3, 1997, seconded by Mr. Spear with all in favor.

Mr. Faiman stated that the applicant would be receiving a letter of approval in a few days.

He further stated that the selectmen, any party to the action or proceedings, or any person affected thereby may apply for a rehearing of this decision. A request for a rehearing must be filed in writing with the Zoning Board of Adjustment on or before Tuesday, September 30. 1997, and must fully specify all grounds on which the rehearing is requested. (N.H.RSA 677:2)


  1. Why will your proposed use not diminish the values of surrounding properties? Surrounding properties are Residential, some on smaller lots. Ten-acre-lots would enhance values.
  2. Why would granting the variance be in the public interest? Proposed lot lines are in harmony with current usage of land divided by old stonewalls. Proposal would allow current use status to remain, six acres would not.
  3. Why would denial of the variance result in unnecessary hardship? The six-acre requirement in this case precludes subdivision along the natural dividing lines of the property.
  4. Why would granting the variance do substantial justice? The public gains nothing from enforcing the six-acre lot size. There is no point in enforcing an ordinance, at the owner’s expense, with no public gain.
  5. Why is the proposed use consistent with the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance? The proposal meets and is in harmony with the purpose of the zone. Larger lot enhances options to increase setbacks for new construction.

Clarification of Case # 8/13/97-3 COTE/ROBERGE

Mr, Faiman read a letter from Mr. Cote asking the Board to clarify the wording that the Board used when granting the variance to section 6.2.4.. Mr. Roberge was present and explained that the original request was for a lot line adjustment that would place the new lot line 10’ from the left side of the Cote building (facing from the road).

At the 8/13 meeting, the Board understood that granting this variance would leave a 120’ frontage on Mr. Cote’s property. Mr. Roberge explained that at that meeting there were no surveyed drawings and the 120’ was, in fact, an estimate. The actual frontage that will remain is 117’, if the Lot line adjustment between the lot line and the shed is 10’.

Motion Mr. Tuttle moved to provide a letter of clarification to the applicants stating that the variance which was granted allowed the adjusted lot line to be ten feet from the left side of the Cote building (facing building from the road), as specified in the original application.


MINUTES - August 13, 1997

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to approve the 8/13/97 minutes as written, seconded by Mr. Tuttle with all in favor.


The Board discussed whether to continue sending joint abutter notices with the Planning Board and whether to raise the abutter fees to keep in line with rising postage costs.

The Board decided to stop the practice of waiving abutter fees for joint applications with the Planning Board, to raise the fee for each abutter to $4, and to allow a reduced fee of $3 for each abutter if two sets of self-adhesive labels containing the abutter list are supplied with the application. Mr. Faiman will write a letter to the Selectmen informing them of this decision in case there is some objection, and the new fees will go into effect as of October 1,1997.


Mr. Faiman told the Board that there has been a change in abutter noticing in that holders of conservation easements must now be noticed. So, along with the new abutter fees, this information must be given to applicants via a current instructions for applicants letter. Mr. Faiman will produce this letter after October 1.

A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting and it was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.


Diane Nilsson, Clerk