Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

December 13, 2000

Voting Board Chairperson Neil Faiman; member Jim Tuttle; alternate members Joanna Eckstrom and Ron Hanisch.
Clerk Diane Nilsson
Agenda William & Kelly Hoff — Special Exception continued from 11/8/00

Case# 11/8/00–2 — William & Kelly Hoff

Mr. Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. and explained that this was a continuation of the hearing that was begun on 11/8/00 for a special exception under the terms of section 6.6.1 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance to permit a machine shop as a home occupation in a garage on Lot H–93, 1001 Mason Road. At the previous hearing the board had questions about the potential noise impact on the surrounding abutters and so chose to continue the hearing to this evening in order to hear further testimony on this issue in hopes that a more educated decision could be made.

Mr. Hoff presented printed information on three of the machines similar to the ones he proposes using in his shop: a 14" X 40" gear-head floor lathe; a 9' X 42" milling machine and a 6" X 18" surface grinder. He also presented a list of sound measurements made with a Radio Shack 33–2055 digital sound level meter. Drilling, milling and turning levels at two different distances were measured in the shop in which he currently works. This shop is a 50' X 100' concrete building with a metal roof and no insulation. The shop he is proposing will be located in one half of his wooden garage and it will be insulated. He also took sound level readings of various sounds in the neighborhood and appliances and equipment inside and outside his house. He presented a fact sheet addressing noise levels in out environment which listed points of reference measured in dBA or decibels from 0 to 120. The fact sheet also listed 75 different noise environments and what the dBA levels are.

Attorney Dan Donovan, representing abutters Joanne Dufour and Ellen O’Shea of lot H–092, said that even if the proposed shop is as quiet as a vacuum cleaner, nobody wants to hear a vacuum cleaner 40–50 hours a week. He further questioned whether a machine shop is an appropriate use for a home occupation. He handed out the superior court case Town of Milford v. Bottazzi, in which the court sided with the Town of Milford in affirming that the Bottazzi automobile and truck repair business was not an appropriate home occupation because it is not customary and it changes the character of the neighborhood. He then stated that given the fact that there is no specific definition of permitted uses for home occupations in the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, he felt that the operation of a machine shop is much more akin to the operation of a motor vehicle garage than to a dressmaking shop, which would be a more customary use for a home occupation. He said that this machine shop is not a traditional use for a home occupation and therefore it is not appropriate for a special exception to be granted in this case.

Wilton building inspector Frank Millward stated that he had worked in a machine shop for 22 years and he felt that there was the potential for a lot of noise to be created. He also felt that it would be a disservice to all of the residential homeowners in the Mason Road area to create a machine shop in the middle of it. He also pointed out that Mr. Hoff would need three phase power in order to run the machines and that PSNH does not provide it there, which means that Mr. Hoff would need some kind of a generator.

Mr. Hoff stated that he is planning to attach an electronic phase converter to each machine. These converters are silent. He then showed the board samples of small parts that he had produced in his current shop. They were made of plastic and different types of metal. He showed the before and after materials. He explained that when he is working on a production run of a particular job, the machines are used perhaps half of the time and the remaining time is spent deburring and sanding by hand.

Mr. Faiman said that in his opinion, the board has to answer two questions: Is this, in fact, a home occupation? Where do you draw the line between an appropriate and an inappropriate use? And what is the effect on the neighborhood of this use? Would it be a potential nuisance or would it be an innocuous, almost unnoticable activity? He also pointed out that the town had broadened the home occupation ordinance a few years ago to allow home occupations in out buildings, such as a garage, in the RES/AG district.

Mr. Hanisch asked if there were any machine shops as home occupations currently existing in Wilton. None could be recalled.

Mr. Hoff stated that he will build a dividing wall in his garage and will insulate the machine shop side, but he will have his doors and windows open in warm weather.

Abutter O’Shea said that for her the continuous sound is a problem. If it were only occasionally, it would not be such a problem. She also pointed to the dBA reading which showed the level of her dog barking on her porch, read at the Hoff’s garage at 50–55. If this level is indicative of the sound that will be coming continuously from the Hoff’s garage, it will be unbearable.

Asked if he could estimate the dBA reading that might exist on the abutter’s porch once his machine shop is up and running, Mr. Hoff said that the abutters shouldn’t hear anything.

Mr. Faiman said that the board should decide if it is in favor of this request, and if so, what, if any, conditions it wants to impose. If it is against, what the reasons are. He then said that he would vote against the proposal because it is just over that line of what is an appropriate use in this particular neighborhood. The other board members felt that they would like to vote for the proposal and try to come up with conditions that would make the use palatable to the neighborhood.

Mr. Faiman then suggested that the board come up with appropriate findings of fact and restrictions. He made some suggestions, based on what he had heard so far from Mr. Hoff and the board. The board spent a great deal of time discussing the various concerns of the neighbors, their own concerns, and Mr. Hoff’s needs. They eventually came up with the following restrictions:

Motion Mr. Hanisch moved to grant the special exception subject to the above list of restrictions. Ms. Eckstrom seconded the motion. Three board members were in favor and Mr. Faiman voted no.

Mr. Faiman stated that the applicant would receive a Notice of Decision 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, January 2, 2001, and must fully specify all grounds on which the rehearing is requested. (N.H. RSA 677:2)


Minutes — November 8, 2000

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to approve the 11/8/00 minutes as written, seconded by Mr. Tuttle. Three were in favor and Mr. Hanisch abstained.

Minutes — November 30, 2000

Motion Ms. Eckstrom moved to approve the 11/30/00 minutes as written, seconded by Mr. Tuttle. Three were in favor and Mr. Tuttle abstained.

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

Diane Nilsson, Clerk