Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

July 7, 1999

Clerk Diane Nilsson
  • Janice and Royden Sanders - special exceptions and variances
  • Steven & Mary McDonough - special exceptions

Chairman Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:34 p.m. and stated that all board members visited sites for both hearings before the meeting

Case # 6/9/99-1 (Continued from June 9)

Voting Board Chairman Neil Faiman; members Carol Roberts, Jim Tuttle & Bob Spear; alternate member Joanna Eckstrom.

Janice E. Sanders and Royden C. Sanders, Jr., co-trustees, have applied for variances to sections 14.3.1 and 14.3.2 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit a subdivision of lot A-31-1, Tighe Farm and Stiles Farm Roads, resulting in the creation of a non-building lot which would not meet the lot area and frontage requirements of the Watershed District; a variance to section 14.3.3 of the Ordinance, to permit a subdivision of lot A-31-1 and the subsequent construction of a home on one of the resulting lots, which would not meet the requirements for setbacks from a wetland in the Watershed District; and a variance from sections 14.3.2 and 3.1.10 of the Ordinance and/or an exception under the terms of RSA 674:41, paragraph II, to permit a subdivision of lot A-31-1 which would result in the creation of a lot which would not have the required frontage on a class V or better road.

Phil Tuomala of Monadnock Survey represented the Sanders'. He passed out plans to the Board and put one up on the wall. He explained that the Sanders' lot, A-31-1 is 18 acres in size. In the southwest corner there are two barns that are rented to the owners of lot A-11, on the other side of Stiles Farm Road. He stated that the land where the barns sit, used to be part of Lot A-11. The applicant is proposing to subdivide off this 7/10 of an acre piece and ma make it part of lot A-11. In addition, the applicants are proposing to subdivide the southeast corner of lot A-31-1 to allow the construction of a home. The proposed leechfield for this home would meet the required 150' setback from wetland soils, but the septic tank would only be 100' and the house would be 75'. The subdivision lot line had not been decided by the time of the meeting.

Mr. Faiman suggested that the Board consider the subdivision of the barns first. He then pointed out to the Board that he had spoken to Silas Little, the town attorney, who had stated that the lot where the barns sit cannot legally become part of Lot A-11 because there is a road between the two lots. This means that the lot would have to be a separate lot of record, but the Board could put language into the decision stating that it could never be a buildable lot.

Abutter Edson Skinner (5 Tighe Farm Road) stated that he would be the owner of the land on which the barns now sit. He said that the water that feeds the barn comes from his property.

Neighbor Grenville Clark (29 Stiles Farm Road) stated that he supports the requested variance.

Mr. Faiman stated that he is in favor of granting the variance provided that the Board can sufficiently encumber the resulting lot so that it cannot ever be used as a buildable lot.

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to grant variances to sections 14.3.1 and 14.3.2 to permit the subdivision of lot A-31-1, to create a new lot of approximately 0.7 acres at the corner of Tighe Farm and Stiles Farm Roads, containing two barns and surrounding grassy area. Granting the variances is subject to the condition that no new construction is permitted on the lot, except for the possible future construction of the barns on their existing foundations and at their present sizes. In particular, residential use of the lot is prohibited. Mr. Spear seconded the motion.

Neighbor Alan Preston (21 Frye Mill Road) stated that he believed that in 1976, the Planning Board decided that Stiles Farm Road was no longer a class VI road, and made it a private way, reverting it back to the property owners. He also stated that the Town does not plow or do any maintenance whatsoever on the road.

Mr. Clark handed out copies of a collection of Planning Board minutes from the summer of 1976 which seem to show that the road was discontinued by the Town. Neighbor Corinn Blaghbrough (293 Burton Highway) stated that her deed says that she owns to the middle of the road. So she feels that the road was discontinued by the Town.

Mr. Faiman clarified the situation by stating that Stiles Farm Road is either a right-of-way across private property, which is shared by the landowners and cooperatively maintained, or it is a Town road which is maintained by the property owners rather than by the Town. If Stiles Farm Road was a private way, owned by property owners, there would be no need for the variance under discussion.

Mr. Tuomala stated that he met with road agent Charlie McGettigan a few years ago, on site, and asked him about the status of the roads. Mr. McGettigan answered that Tighe Farm Rd. was a class V road and Stiles Farm Rd. was a class VI road. Mr. Tuomala felt that the decision needs to be made based on that evidence, and not any other assumption. The application for the variances is made with the understanding that Stiles Farm is a class VI road.

Mr. Faiman suggested that the Board make a finding of fact one way or the other regarding this road.

Motion Mr. Tuttle moved to make a finding of fact that Stiles Farm Road is a class VI road in the Sanders subdivision area, seconded by Mr. Spear, with all in favor.

Mr. Faiman stated that the Board can now proceed under the assumption that the road adjacent to the lots in question is indeed a class VI road.

Vote The vote was called on the motion to grant the variance. All were in favor.

Justifications For The Decision

The variance was granted for the following reasons.

  1. The proposed use will not diminish the surrounding property values because there is no new construction proposed.
  2. Granting the variance would not be against the public interest because the proposed non-building lot would be in harmony with the current use of the property.
  3. Denial of the variance would result in unreasonable hardship because there is a class VI road going through the property which separates the two uses which logically go together.
  4. None of the residence requirements apply to the barns property.
  5. Granting the variance would do substantial justice because the public would gain nothing by enforcing the frontage and acreage requirements in this case.
  6. The proposed use is consistent with the spirit of the zoning ordinance because it would preserve the agricultural tie of the barns to the farmhouse.

Mr. Faiman suggested that the Board next look at the variance request for the setbacks in the Watershed District, section 14.3.3. He then read the language in that section.

Mr. Faiman stated that this looks like a variance request to allow the applicant to do what he wants to do. But there does not appear to be any hardship reason why this applicant cannot subdivide his property and build a house somewhere else on the 18 acres that would allow for two dry six acre parcels, and not infringe on the wetlands, as this plan does.

Mr. Tuomala agreed that it would likely be possible to avoid the wetland area, but the result would not be as aesthetically pleasing, since both houses would probably be in view of each other.

Abutter Clark stated that the 18 acre parcel can easily be subdivided into two lots of at least six acres each without infringing on the setback requirements of the Watershed District. He further stated that in order for the board to grant this variance, it will have to find a hardship, and he doesn't see a hardship with this property. He also stated that he didn't think it would be in the public interest to compromise setback requirements from wetlands which the ordinance states, are a resource to be preserved.

Mr. Spear stated that he would like to see the actual proposal for subdividing the land before making a decision.

Mr. Faiman reiterated that he sees no compelling reason why the applicant cannot put a second house on the west side of the property where it is dry.

Ms. Eckstrom said that she would feel better about making a decision if she could see the actual lot line.

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to table a decision until a concrete subdivision proposal can be presented. Mr. Tuttle seconded the motion with 4 in favor and Mr. Faiman voting no.

Mr. Faiman stated that the hearing on this variance is tabled until the next ZBA meeting, which will be August 11.

Case # 7/14/99-1

Voting Board Chairman Neil Faiman; members Carol Roberts & Bob Spear; alternate members Joanna Eckstrom & Ron Hanisch

Steven J. & Mary E. McDonough have applied for special exceptions under the terms of sections 11.4(a) of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit construction of a road across a wetland area, and section 11.4(d), to reclassify as wetland an area that is not now classified as wetland, on Lot H-134, 9 Brown Road. Mr. Faiman explained that wetland crossing issues take two meetings, and that the plan must be sent out for independent review to a certified soil scientist. He also pointed out that all members of the Board visited the site earlier this evening.

Robert Todd, land surveyor and soil scientist, represented the McDonough's and began by posting and handing out maps showing the 53 acre parcel, a proposed new road beginning at the northeast corner of the property, and wetland mapping done by Schauer Environmental Consultants. The applicants are proposing a 10 lot subdivision and would like it to be accessed by the proposed road rather than Brown Road, because Brown Road is located directly in front of their house. The reason this has come before the zoning board is because the proposed new road would cross a wetland area. He stated that the total wetland conservation district soils on this map is 2.9 acres. The wetland crossing would be disturbing .15 acres, or 5% of the total wetlands on the property. He stated that if the road were moved further north, the wetland impact would be less, but the sight distance would be impaired. He also stated that this one impact would be the only one on the entire property.

Mr. Faiman asked about the applicant's request for special exception 11.4(d). Mr. Todd responded that since the Hillsborough County soils map shows no wetlands on this property, and since Wilton recently passed a requirement that applicants must provide site specific soil mapping for subdivisions, and the applicant has now provided that site specific mapping, he felt that the ZBA needs to accept that mapping as correct for that property. Mr. Faiman felt that it might not be necessary for the ZBA to accept the applicant's soil map, that it may be something that the Planning Board might require, but that the only thing that the ZBA is required to do is to have the wetland crossing mapping checked by the Town's consultant.

Doreece Miller, 61 Hearthstone, asked what Mr. Todd meant by saying that putting in the road might improve the wetland area. He responded that the presence of the road will slow the transit of water through those wetlands.

Jonathan Sargent, 37 Gage Road, asked if people can build right on wetland soils. Mr. Faiman explained that in the part of town under discussion, there are no setback requirements to protect the wetlands. Mr. Sargent also asked if the road could be placed on the south side of the pond in order to avoid the wetland crossing. Mr. Todd said that, yes you could be located there but since it is an open space there, for aesthetic reasons they would not like to put a road there.

Neighbor Kevin Valley, 109 Brown Road, asked why the subdivision couldn't use Brown Road as the entrance, and put a loop in, instead of building a new road. Ms. McDonough responded that Brown Road would have to be widened and to do that, a shed on her property would probably have to be removed.

Neighbor Michelle Eckhart, 109 Brown Road, also stated that she felt Brown Road would be a perfectly good access road if widened, eliminating the need for a wetland crossing. She also suggested that Brown Road could be moved further south so it would not impact the house and sheds.

Mr. Faiman summarized these issues by saying that the Zoning Board could reasonably say it is not convinced that the proposed new road is necessary to support the proposed subdivision because Brown Road is already there and looks like it would do just fine. If in the future, the Planning Board told the applicant that Brown Road was not acceptable as an entrance to the subdivision, the applicant could come back to the ZBA with the new evidence from the Planning Board and then ask for the wetland crossing.

The Board came to a consensus and decided to accept the plan and send it on to the Town's consultant for review, asking them to walk the ground on the proposed road and see if their mapping agrees, and if they agree that it is a minor wetland crossing. The applicant will be asked to put an amount of money in escrow until we find out what the charge will actually be.

OTHER BUSINESS MINUTES - June 9, 1999 MOTION: Mr. Spear moved to approve the 6/9/99 minutes as written, seconded by Ms. Roberts with all in favor. A motion was made, seconded and approved to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 p.m.


Minutes - June 9, 1999

Motion Mr. Spear moved to approve the 6/9/99 minutes as written, seconded by Ms. Roberts with all in favor.

A motion was made, seconded and approved to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 p.m.

Diane Nilsson, Clerk