Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

September 9, 1998

Voting Board Chairperson Neil Faiman; members Carol Roberts, Bob Spear and Jim Tuttle; alternate member Ron Hanisch.
Clerk Diane Nilsson
  • Dean & Claudia Pelkey - Special Exception
  • Russel D. Weinzimmer - Variances

Mr. Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m.

Case# 9/9/98-1 PELKEY

Dean & Claudia Pelkey have applied for a Special Exception under section 17.3 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the construction of an addition to their home on Lot J-119, 23 Island Street, which would be closer to the lot line than would otherwise be permitted by the Ordinance.

Claudia Pelkey explained that they would like to build a 9' X 8.6' addition to the back of their house. Their house is already non-conforming because one side setback is 2' and the other side setback is 3.2', in the residential district where the required setbacks are 15'. The addition would not decrease the side setbacks but would continue the non-conformity on the north side of the property. The addition would, however, cut into the back setback, also a 15' requirement, by leaving only 11' from the back of the addition to the river. The Pelkey's plan to build a mudroom, storage area with a bedroom on the second floor. The Board agreed that nearly all houses on Island Street have similar reduced side setbacks, and that this request stays within the character with other Island Street residences.

Motion Mr. Tuttle moved to approve the Pelkey's request for a special exception, seconded by Mr. Spear, with all in favor.
Mr. Faiman stated that the request had been approved and that the Pelkey's would receive, in the mail, a notice of approval. 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 29, 1998, and must fully specify all grounds on which the rehearing is requested. (N.H. RSA 677:2)

Case# 9/9/98-2 WEINZIMMER

Russel D. Weinzimmer has applied for variances to sections 3.1.9, 6.3.5 and either 6.2.3 or 6.3.1 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the consolidation of Lots H-42-5 through H-42-11 and H-42-13 through H-42-20, Highfield's Road, and their subsequent resubdivision into four large lots, where the resulting lots would not satisfy the frontage requirements of the Zoning Ordinance.

Dawn Tuomala represented Mr. Weinzimmer and explained that Mr. Weinzimmer has purchased the Highfield's subdivision land (approximately 51 acres) which has, in the past, received approval from the Planning Board for 15 house lots. Mr. Weinzimmer would like to consolidate the lots and resubdivide them into 4 lots. The configuration of these 4 lots are: 1 200' frontage lot and 2 reduced frontage lots coming off Highfield's Road. The 4th lot has frontage on Mason Road, but it is only 101.45'. The applicant does not want to develop the Mason Road access, because it would disturb too much of the land, and the view of abutter Patricia Cauchon, so the request is that all 4 lots be able to access the Highfield's Road entrance. The ordinance allows for 2 normal frontage lots and 2 reduced frontage lots coming off a common drive. The applicant is requesting a variance to have 1 normal frontage lot and 3 reduced frontage lots. Ms. Tuomala read the 5 justifications for granting a variance. Abutter Patricia Couchon reiterated that she does not want a driveway going through her land in order to access Mason Road.

Mr. Faiman explained that the first variance that the applicant needs deals with the issue of not enough frontage. The ordinance requires 2-200' frontage lots and 2-50' frontage lots, for a total of 500' of frontage. The applicant has 1-200' frontage lot, 2-50' frontage lots and 1 lot with 101' of frontage on Mason Road, which totals just over 400' of frontage. The second variance is needed so that the applicant can use the 101' of frontage on Mason Road to get closer to the 500' total. But to allow that variance is to skirt another requirement of the ordinance which says that if your access is on one road, your frontage must be on the same road.

Mr. Faiman also stated that he didn't see a hardship with this particular application. He said that there are many large pieces of land in Wilton without the required frontage, and the ordinance makes it clear that if an applicant can't meet the frontage requirements, they need to build a road so that they will have the frontage they need. He further stated that the variance question really comes down to whether or not it is a hardship to allow only 3 lots on a property which can reasonably support 4 lots. Mr. Spear stated that he did not see a hardship in only being allowed three lots.

Mr. Faiman reiterated his opinion of what the central question is in this variance request: the extent to which it is unreasonable to constrain the owner of this property to only 3 lots on this amount of land, as a consequence of the rules of the Ordinance. He also stated that another way that he tries to determine hardship is to ask, "is the gap between what is allowed and what is requested so wide that a hardship exists?"

After continued discussion, a motion was made.

Motion Mr. Tuttle moved to approve the request for variances to section 3.1.9, 6.2.3 and 6.3.5, to allow for a subdivision as shown on the map. The motion was seconded by Mr. Hanisch with four members voting yes and Mr. Faiman voting no.

Mr. Faiman stated that the request had been approved and the applicant will receive a notice of approval in the mail. 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 29, 1998, and must fully specify all grounds on which the rehearing is requested. (N.H. RSA 677:2)

Mr. Faiman reminded Ms. Tuomala and Mr. Weinzimmer that they neglected to pay the application fee ($30) for this case. It was also noted that Mr. Weinzimmer overpaid by $20 a previous application, but then added 3 more abutters ($9) to that case, and those abutters were not paid for. So the total that Mr. Weinzimmer owes the Town is $19.

Motion Mr. Hanisch moved to accept the justifications for the variances as written by the applicant, seconded by Mr. Tuttle, with four in favor and Mr. Faiman abstaining.


  1. Why will your proposed use not diminish the values of surrounding properties? The parcel contains 51 acres and is proposed to be subdivided into 4 large lots. The lots would be larger, more exclusive and more expensive. The current proposal is to allow all of the lots to be accessed from High Fields Road. This would eliminate the need to construct a Town Road, a single driveway or private way from Mason Road. By having large lots and minimal access, the surrounding area will remain more rural in nature. By utilizing reduced frontage lots, the building setbacks will be increased from 35' to 50', thus improving the privacy between the surrounding properties.
  2. Why would granting the variance be in the public interest? The original subdivision allowed for the connection of Mason Road and Abbot Hill Road. The current proposal eliminates the construction of High Fields Road through the property thus eliminating the potential for flow-through traffic. There will also be fewer homes, therefore less vehicles accessing through High Fields Road. The current proposal will not direct any additional traffic onto Mason Road.
  3. Why would denial of the variance result in unnecessary hardship? The property currently has a total of 51 acres. Due to the overall configuration of the property and the locations of the most suitable building sites, four residential lots are a reasonable use. To access the fourth lot off of Mason Road, the construction of a driveway would have a great impact to the surrounding land. The access from Mason Road is very steep. To minimize the slope of the driveway, a deeper cut would have to be made into the land, thus increasing the disturbed area. Allowing the fourth lot to access from High Fields will result in less additional land disturbance. The 101.45 feet of frontage is the existing strip of land remaining from the original subdivision that was to be known as High Fields Road. This strip of land is unsuitable for any development and would be used solely for the purpose of frontage. The existing topography of the land is very steep off Mason Road.
  4. Why would granting the variance do substantial justice? By consolidating the lots and eliminating access from Mason Road there would be less impact to the environment. More of the land could be left in its present state. The current subdivision proposal would not completely change the aesthetics of the neighborhood. The existing subdivision, if constructed, would completely change the characteristics of the neighborhood.
  5. Why is the proposed use consistent with the spirit of the ordinance? The proposed subdivision exceeds the minimum area standards. Also, under Section 6.3 Alternative Lot Requirements, it is stated that the reduced frontage lots can be permitted if "the proposed reduced frontage lot better serves the neighborhood than would a development under the otherwise applicable provisions of this ordinance." (Page A-13 Wilton Land Use Laws and Regulations Zoning Ordinance.)


MINUTES - August 12, 1998

Motion Mr. Spear moved to approve the 8/12/98 minutes as written, seconded by Mr. Tuttle with four in favor and Mr. Hanisch abstaining.
Motion A motion was made to adjourn the meeting. All were in favor. The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Diane Nilsson, Clerk