Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

January 12, 2000

Voting Board Chairperson Neil Faiman; members Bob Spear & Jim Tuttle; alternate members Joanna Eckstrom & Ron Hanisch.
Clerk Diane Nilsson
Agenda E.B.Frye & Son Inc. - variance

Chairperson Neil Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

Case# 1/12/00-1 E.B. FRYE & SON, INC.

E.B. Frye & Son, Inc. has applied for a variance to permit a portion of lot A-27, 265 Burton Highway, in the General Residence and Agricultural District and the Watershed District, to be used for parking associated with the commercial use of Frye's Mill in the Commercial District.

Harland Savage, Jr. presented a map of the lots involved and explained that Lot A-27, which abuts Lots A-23, 24, 25, 26 and 28, is a 18 acre Residence and Agricultural lot owned by his father, Harland Savage. Lots A-23, 24, 25, and 28 comprise Frye's Mill and are zoned commercial. He and his father are seeking a lot line adjustment, through the Planning Board, which would annex the part of Lot A-27 that is north of the Mill Brook to E.B. Frye & Son so that the southwest portion of that newly-created lot could be used for parking. The Planning Board told Mr. Savage that he would need a variance in order to allow a commercial use on a Residence and Agricultural lot. Mr. Savage explained that Frye's Mill, being an historic site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is getting more and more requests for tours by schools and tour groups. He pointed out the current parking areas for employees and for visitors to the retail shop and said that if a bus comes when there are cars in the visitors area, the bus really has a difficult time turning around. So they thought that by directing some of the parking to Lot A-27, they could make the visitor parking area nearest to the retail shop safer.

Mr. Savage explained that the northeast portion of the proposed new lot is pretty wet, but that the southwestern portion is dry.

The board discussed different aspects of lot line adjustments, subdivisions, and using Res/Ag land for commercial use. Mr. Hanisch asked what it would take to expand a commercial district. Mr. Faiman answered that it would take an amendment to the zoning ordinance which would be voted on by the town at Town Meeting. If Mr. Savage had brought this to the attention of the planning board a month ago, it could possibly have been included in the amendments to be voted on at this year's Town Meeting, scheduled for March.

Diane Nilsson stated that she received a call from abutter Elizabeth Backeberg (Betty Frye), asking about the location of the parking area. Ms. Nilsson told her that there was no map or drawing to refer to, but that the applicant stated that the parked cars would not be seen from Burton Highway. Ms. Frye stated that she had no objection as long as the vehicles could not be seen.

Abutter Doreece Miller asked if there were any plans for paving the parking area, stating that she would object to having the area paved. Mr. Savage stated that he plans to have a gravel parking area, unless the Planning Board tells him he has to pave it. Abutter Miller asked: if the board grants the variance, would the board impose a restriction which would delineate the area allowed for parking, or would the applicant technically be able to use the whole parcel for parking if he wanted to? Mr. Faiman answered that if the board chooses to grant a variance, it can do so with whatever restrictions it feels are necessary and appropriate.

Mr. Hanisch asked whether the planning board would or could apply similar restrictions when the construction of the parking lot comes before them. Mr. Faiman answered that the Planning Board will look at whether the proposed lot is on wet or dry land. If it is on wetland soil, Mr. Savage would have to come to the Zoning Board for a special exception.

Mr. Hanisch asked Mr. Savage if he could estimate more definitively the portion of the lot needed for parking. Mr. Savage outlined the proposed area on the map with his finger. Abutter Dorothy Taylor asked if Mr. Savage could estimate the number of parking spaces needed so that the square footage needed could be calculated? Mr. Savage stated that he really doesn't know, but guessed that during a sale, in the fall, they might need as many as 100 spaces. But then next year it might be 110, so he hesitated to put a number on it.

The Board discussed various issues regarding the watershed district requirements, possible 100 year floodplain restrictions, what the setback should be from Mill Brook and what size restrictions the Board might want to attach to the variance request, should the Board decide to grant it. Mr. Faiman read from section 14.3.3 of the zoning ordinance which refers to setbacks in the watershed district, and told Mr. Savage that he would have to consider these restrictions at the planning board level when designing the parking area. The Board looked at the floodplain map and determined that part of Lot A-27, north of Mill Brook is in the 100 year floodplain, but couldn't determine exactly which part. Mr. Faiman told Mr. Savage that if any part of the proposed parking lot is in that floodplain, there are additional restrictions that will apply.

Mr. Faiman stated that everyone on the Board seems to feel that this is a fine proposal, and everyone likes it, but he doesn't see any hardship, which is a necessary requirement in order to grant a variance. He said that he wished it had been turned into a proposed zoning amendment, rezone Lot A-27, north of Mill Brook to be a commercial lot, a month ago so that it could go to the Town Meeting. It is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, so it probably would have sailed through. But he restated that he does not see the hardship necessary to grant this variance.

The Board discussed the issue of hardship and the idea of changing the zoning to commercial use and the effect that would have on the neighborhood in the future.

Abutter Miller stated that she has concerns about the idea of 100 cars parked in that area. Although she has no problems with the idea of a parking lot there, she pictured a bus or two and maybe a couple of dozen cars. Now the proposal seems much bigger than she originally thought, and she is concerned about a lot large enough to hold 100 or more cars.

Abutter Don Taylor stated that he has no problem with the variance request as long as the use and the size of the area of use are specified.

Mr. Faiman stated that the Board seems to be wanting to grant a variance on one lot to improve the function and utility of another lot. In his opinion the Zoning Board would be usurping the right of the Wilton voters to decide where zoning changes should be made. This is the sort of judgment that the Planning Board and the voters should make in deciding what is reasonable use of that land and how it should be zoned. This particular request goes beyond the interpretation of hardship and enters into the realm of making policy or making land use judgments that he was not willing to do. But, he stated, he is only one of five.

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to grant the variance to allow commercial parking on a portion of Lot A-27 in conjunction with the commercial use of Lots A-23, A-24, A-25, and A-28 (Frye's Mill), subject to the following conditions, and Mr. Spear seconded the motion.
  • Parking on the lot is restricted to an area east of Lot A-28, but no more than three hundred feet east of lot A-28; and at least fifty feet north of Mill Brook, but no more than three hundred feet north of Mill Brook.
  • The area within fifty feet north of Mill Brook is to remain undisturbed, except as required by the next paragraph.
  • The access to the parking area is to be from Frye Mill Road through the western end of Lot A-27, as far north of Mill Brook as possible without impinging on any stone walls between Lot A-28 and Mill Brook.

Mr. Faiman called for the vote: Ms. Eckstrom - yes; Mr. Spear - yes; Mr. Hanisch - no; Mr. Tuttle - yes; Mr. Faiman - no.

Mr. Faiman stated that the variance request was granted by a vote of 3 to 2, and Mr. Savage will receive a Notice of Decision in the mail within the next 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, February 1, 2000, and must fully specify all grounds on which the rehearing is requested. (N.H. RSA 677:2)

This variance shall expire on January 12, 2002, if the use permitted by it has not begun by that date. (Wilton Zoning Ordinance section 17.4).


Motion To accept the justifications for the decision: 3 were in favor; Mr. Hanisch and Mr. Faiman abstained.


Minutes - December 8, 1999

Motion Mr. Spear moved to accept the 12/8/99 minutes as written, seconded by Ms. Eckstrom. Four were in favor and Mr. Faiman abstained.

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

Diane Nilsson, Clerk