Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

April 8, 1998

Voting Board Chairperson Neil Faiman; members Carol Roberts, Bob Spear and Jim Tuttle; alternate member Joanna Eckstrom.
Clerk Diane Nilsson
Agenda Robert Bragdon (owner) and Barbara Cassidy(applicant) - variance, appeal

Mr. Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. and explained that the Bragdon/Cassidy case involved both a variance request to section 5.1 and an appeal of the Planning Board determination that a variance was required.

Case #4/8/98-1 ROBERT BRAGDON (owner) and BARBARA CASSIDY (applicant)

Robert Bragdon (owner) and Barbara Cassidy (applicant), Lot F-031-1, 107 Intervale Road, in the Commercial District, applied for a variance to section 5.1 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to allow construction of a driveway from Intervale Road, through Lot F-031 in the Residential District in order to access a proposed self-storage facility to be built on Lot F-031-1 which is in the Commercial District. Alternatively, they have appealed the determination of the Wilton Planning Board, at its meeting of March 18, 1998, that the proposed driveway is not a permitted use without such a variance.

Mr. Faiman pointed out that the first issue to deal with is for the Board to decide whether the planning board was correct in requiring the applicant to obtain a variance in this case. Mr. Bragdon stated that according to section 7.2.4 a & b of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, lots with frontage on NH Route 101 should be accessed by any other street or side road that is available and only by NH Route 101 if no other alternative exists. Since his property has access from Intervale Road, he felt that the planning board was wrong to require a variance.

Mr. Faiman read section 7.2.4 and stated that the Board must weigh whether the ordinance is stating that in a case such as this, a residential street such as Intervale Road should be used as access to a commercial lot, rather than NH Route 101, versus the fact that the historical interpretation, and many people would say the logical interpretation is that a commercial driveway is a commercial use, which is not permitted in a residential district.

Ms. Eckstrom asked when the lot was subdivided. Mr. Bragdon stated that it was in Nov. 1987. Mr. Bragdon also stated that Bursey’s Farm Stand and Tuttle’s Maple Syrup use Intervale Road as access to their business. He did acknowledge that Tuttle’s was a grandfathered use.

Mr. Faiman noted that when the ZBA granted Bursey’s variance, a condition of their variance was that the public was not to use the drive that enters Intervale Road to either enter or exit Bursey’s. Mr. Bragdon stated that there are no signs posted informing Bursey’s customers of this fact and that people use the drive all the time.

Mr. Faiman stated that his inclination is to say that a commercial driveway is a commercial use and not allowed in the residential district. He further stated that he would read section 7.2.4 of the ordinance to mean shared access among the commercial lots on NH Route 101 rather than an intention to provide access through the residential district to those lots. He felt that the access to a commercial lot can have the same implications for a neighborhood as the commercial lot itself. By providing the access to a commercial activity, you are in essence using the driveway for a commercial purpose.

Resident Kathy Popores stated that she didn’t think that section 7.2.4 was written specifically with Intervale Road in mind.

Resident Susan Bogden stated that she also questions that the planning board meant a residential road such as Intervale when they wrote that section of the ordinance.

Mr. Faiman stated that the Board was trying to interpret the meaning of the word "available" in that section. His interpretation was that the road would otherwise be acceptable. Ms. Eckstrom’s interpretation is that it is physically present and you can get to it.

Ms. Bogdan stated that it seemed to her that if the driveway is being used to get to a commercial use, then wouldn’t that make it strictly a commercial drive?

Mr. Faiman noted that all board members have driven by the site and Ms. Eckstrom has walked the property.

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to state that the planning board was incorrect in requiring a variance for this use. That Intervale Road is a street that is available as an alternative for this commercial use. There was no second to the motion.
Motion Ms. Roberts moved to find that the proposed access from residential Lot F-031 to the proposed commercial use on Lot F-031-1 is not a permitted use by the ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Spear with four in favor and Ms. Eckstrom voting against.

Mr. Faiman stated that the Board found that the proposed drive was not permitted in the absence of a variance.

Request for a Variance to section 5.1

Mr. Bragdon explained that his planned storage units will be a very light use with an expected traffic flow of 2-3 cars per day. He further stated that he does not need the visibility of a Route 101 access and by having the entrance on Intervale Road, he will be able to see, from his home, who is coming and going and have a little more control over what goes on at the storage units. He is planning to build only one building at a time, so he can assess what the need is, but if he builds the total, there will be 24 10X15 units and 24 10X10 units. There will not be a sign on Intervale Road. There will be exterior lighting that will be covered, aim downward and not go past the property line. It will be open 24 hours a day.

Mr. Bragdon presented a letter from the Wilton Highway Dept. Mr. Faiman read the letter into the record. The letter stated that if one particular tree is removed, the line of sight will be acceptable to the Town.

Resident Brian Adams presented a petition signed by 28 Intervale Road residents expressing their opposition to the requested access to a commercial use through a residential lot on Intervale Road.

Mr. Bragdon stated that he feels that his request is consistent with the use he sees already on Intervale Road from Bursey’s Farm Stand and Tuttle’s Maple Syrup. He is also concerned with the dangers of access from Route 101 when customers try to enter when traveling west. Mr. Faiman asked what the documentation was for the figure of 2-3 visits per day. Mr. Bragdon didn’t have the information.

Mr. Bragdon stated that the distance from the storage unit to the state line is 35’ and from the most southerly unit to his residential property line is 20’. He plans on removing as few trees as he possibly can.

Resident Andy Roeper asked if there was any assurance that the units would not be rented to contractors or used for any kind of industrial warehousing, which could increase the traffic usage by a great deal. Mr. Bragdon responded that he hadn’t given that much thought.

Ms. Bogden asked what type of entry system the customers would have. Mr. Bragdon answered that each customer would have their own lock. He also said that at this point there are no plans for fencing. He also passed around photographs of storage units with a similar design to the ones he plans to build.

Ms. Bogden stated that she is very concerned about the potential for increased traffic on Intervale Road if the access is allowed. She stated that there is already a speeding problem and lots of traffic.

Ms. Eckstrom asked what size vehicles Mr. Bragdon expects to see his customers use. He stated that he didn’t believe that moving vans would fit so they would have to be smaller.

Resident Cheryl Ballou stated her concern about traffic increases on Intervale Road due to this requested access.

Resident Greg Popores stated that if Mr. Bragdon is saying there will only be 2-3 customers each day, where is the safety issue in using Route 101 for access?

Ms. Popores stated that her concern is keeping the residential character of Intervale Road. If access is granted from Intervale Road to commercial uses on Route 101 the character of the neighborhood would be very negatively affected.

Mr. Faiman stated that the only hardship, that it’s dangerous to turn off Route 101, is not really a hardship because all the other businesses on Route 101 have the same situation. If the State were to say that Mr. Bragdon couldn’t have a curb cut for some reason, then that would be a potential hardship.

Mr. Faiman went down the list of criteria for he Board’s consideration:
1. Property values could be diminished because of increased traffic. But the increased traffic may be negligible.
2.You would abate a potential safety hazard on Route 101. But you could be creating a traffic hazard on Intervale Road.
3. The slope of the property makes it impractical to access from Route 101.
5. The ordinance says, in section 7.2.4, that access should be taken on roads other than 101.

Ms. Roberts stated her opinion that there is no justifiable hardship in this case. Mr. Spear felt that since the applicant has not been denied a curb cut from Route 101, there is not yet a hardship. Mr. Faiman stated that he feels that the access should be through the commercial district if it is feasible, and since it has not been proven that it is not feasible, he will vote that way.

Motion Mr. Spear moved to deny the variance because no hardship has been proven. There is no evidence that access is not possible from Route 101. The motion seconded by Mr. Tuttle with all in favor.

Mr. Faiman stated that the Zoning Board has voted to deny the variance on the grounds that the legal requirement of finding a hardship was not satisfied. 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, April 28, 1998, and must fully specify all grounds on which the rehearing is requested. (N.H. RSA 677:2)


Mr. Faiman passed out information on a Site Specific Soil Standards workshop which will be held by the NRPC on Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m. and the Annual Planning and Zoning Conference to be held on Saturday, May 30.

He then raised the issue of whether alternate members who are not voting should sit with the Board and participate in the debate and discussion.

The clerk reminded the Board that it was time for annual elections of officers. Alternate Ron Hanisch was asked to come and join the Board because he can vote on administrative matters.

Motion Ms. Roberts nominated Mr. Faiman to be chairperson, seconded by Ms. Eckstrom with all in favor.
Motion Ms. Eckstrom nominated Mr. Tuttle to be vice-chairperson, seconded by Mr. Spear with all in favor

MINUTES - February 11, 1998

Motion Mr. Spear moved to accept the 2/11/98 minutes as written, seconded by Ms. Eckstrom with all in favor.

A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting and the meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.


Diane Nilsson, Clerk
Posted: 4/14/98