Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

July 8, 2003

Voting Board Acting Chairperson Joanna Eckstrom; members Carol Roberts, Bob Spear & Jim Tuttle; alternate member Ron Hanisch.
Clerk Diane Nilsson
  • Mark A. Campbell & Nathaniel W. Carmen – appeal of administrative decision or variance.
  • Mark A. Campbell & Nathaniel W. Carmen – special exception
  • L.A. Limousine Service – variance
  • L.A. Limousine Service – variance

Ms. Eckstrom called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. and introduced the board members.

Motion Mr. Spear moved adjourn the meeting at 10 p.m. and continue any hearings that are not completed by that time. Seconded by Mr. Tuttle and all were in favor.

Case # 7/803 – 1 CAMPBELL/CARMEN

Mark A. Campbell and Nathaniel W. Carmen have appealed an administrative decision of the Wilton Planning Board that a proposed subdivision of Lot F-48, 84 Intervale Road, is not permissible because of the existing dwelling on the lot which is closer to Intervale Road than permitted by the setback requirements of section 5.2.3 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance; or alternatively, they request a variance from section 5.2.3 of the Ordinance to permit the proposed subdivision.

Appeal from Administrative Decision

Attorney Gerald Prunier, and Jack Kelley from Meridian Land Services represented the applicants. Attorney Prunier explained that the house has existed where it is for 70 years. Since it predates zoning, it is a non- conforming use in that the front setback is less than the required 35 feet. The Planning Board did not accept their application for subdivision of that lot because it determined that subdivision would make a non- conforming use less conforming.

Ms. Eckstrom noted that all the present ZBA members, except Mr. Spear, visited the site.

Motion Ms. Roberts moved that the Planning Board was correct in its decision to not accept the plan because the lot is being subdivided, creating a more non-conforming use on the lot with the house. Mr. Spear seconded the motion and all were in favor.

Variance Request

Jack Kelley brought plans for the subdivision of Lot F–48. The lot with the house will be Lot 48–2. Attorney Prunier read through the criteria for granting a variance and explained that the thick black lines outlining Intervale Road, include the Town right-of-way. He said that towns most commonly have 50' right-of-ways, which would be 25' on either side of the roadway. In this case, because Intervale Road was at one time a State Road, the right-of-way is 66' – note 10 on the plan. It was noted that the house is a two-family dwelling and the new lot is more than one acre in size.

Ms. Eckstrom read a letter from abutter Matthew Kennedy who voiced his opposition to the subdivision, and to the wetland crossing which will be addressed in the special exception request. No other abutters spoke.

Ms. Eckstrom closed the public portion of the hearing and the board members discussed the application. Mr. Hanisch said that it seems that if the Intervale Road right-of-way was not so wide, the front setback of the house would be in compliance with the 35' setback requirement. Board members agreed with this view.

Motion Mr. Hanisch moved to grant the variance based on the fact that the size of the setback is derived from the width of Intervale Road and its right-of-way. The reason Intervale Road is so wide is because many years ago it was a major corridor – before the current Route 101 was constructed.

The road’s current width is inconsistent with its visual width, which is more consistent with current standards. Granting the variance does not make this lot any less conforming than other lots or structures in the neighborhood. Mr. Spear seconded the motion and all were in favor.

Motion Mr. Spear moved to adopt the following Findings of Fact, seconded by Mr. Tuttle – all in favor.

Findings of Fact

  1. The proposed use will not diminish the values of surrounding properties because the building is existing, having been constructed over 70 years ago. No change is being proposed to the appearance or placement of the existing building, which pre-dates zoning.
  2. Granting the variance would be in the public interest because it would allow the owner of the land a reasonable use of his real estate without unnecessary impact to the environment.
  3. Denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship because the size of the front setback is derived from the width of Intervale Road. The road’s actual width is inconsistent with its visual width, which is more consistent with current standards. If the road was not so wide, the front setback would likely be in compliance with the Ordinance.
  4. Granting the variance would do substantial justice because it would allow the owner continued reasonable use of the property.
  5. The proposed use is consistent with the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance because the proposed use is residential, which is the existing zone.

Case # 7/8/03 – 2 CAMPBELL/CARMEN

Mark A. Campbell and Nathaniel W. Carmen have applied for a Special Exception under the terms of Section 11.4(a) of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit a driveway to cross a wetland area in conjunction with a proposed subdivision of Lot F— 48, 84 Intervale Road.

Ms. Eckstrom explained that this special exception requires two hearings. The hearing tonight will be to hear testimony and no decision will be made until the August meeting. She also said that all board members except Mr. Spear visited the site.

Mr. Kelley handed out the engineering drawing of the wetland crossing for the proposed driveway on proposed Lot F—48—1 and explained that initially the applicant was planning a shared driveway, beginning at lot 3, traversing lot 2, and ending at lot 1, which did not require a wetland crossing. After various departments reviewed the plan, the Water Dept. and, most strongly, the Fire Chief felt that if at all possible, a direct driveway for each lot would be the best.

He said that they have not yet filed the Dredge & Fill application with the Town but will be doing so shortly.

The proposal anticipates roughly an 800 sq. ft. impact into a man-made canal.

Attorney Prunier went through the general requirements of section 4.4 and stated that the applicant meets these requirements and the specific requirements in section 11.4.

Lynn Draper with the Wilton Conservation Commission said that the CC is not in favor of crossing this canal and wetland at all due to the fact that the crossing will require a very large amount of fill and it will disturb the natural wetland that is behind the canal. She said that the Commission was surprised at how deep and wide the canal actually is, and how wet the bottom of the canal is. She said that they had to be careful to step very quickly or they would sink down into the mud. The CC was also concerned about safety issues if the crossing is allowed, because the driveway would have to be approximately 5' above ground level.

Ms. Draper also said that the Commission was concerned about building a house on lot 1 because the 100 year floodplain comes so far up from the river. They are also concerned because the Souhegan River is part of the Shoreline Protection Regulations with the State of New Hampshire, and a recent new home construction in the same neighborhood disturbed part of the river.

Mr. Kelley said that they are recommending a 24" culvert and will have to use about 6' of fill. He also said that they have added Note #17 on the plan which explains that all property within 250' of the high water mark “reference line” of the Souhegan River is subject to the standards of the Comprehensive Shoreline Protection

Act. Attorney Prunier added that there will be either a covenant filed with the Registry of Deeds, specifying that the lots must comply with the 50' buffer shown on the plan, that will cover all 3 lots, or the language could be put into each deed, whichever the Town prefers.

Mr. Kelley said that his firm has done extensive study of the floodplain and is certain of its location. He said that there is plenty of room in the envelope out side of the floodplain and the wetland areas to build a house.

The Board felt satisfied with the delineation on the plans created by Meridian.

Motion Mr. Tuttle moved to accept the delineation of the wetlands, floodplain, and 50' setback from the river, as provided by Meridian Land Services, without further review. The motion was seconded by Mr. Spear and all were in favor.

Ms. Eckstrom said that the case would be continued to the August 12th meeting.

Case # 7/8/03 – 3 L.A. LIMOUSINE

L.A. Limousine Service has applied for a variance from the terms of section 5.1 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance to permit U-Haul equipment rentals in addition to the existing limousine service business on Lot L—27, 223 Gibbons Highway.

Ms. Eckstrom clarified that L.A. Limousine is a commercial business operating in the Residential and Agricultural District.

Christine Benson, owner of the company, said that she started renting U-Haul trucks because she needed to diversify her business because of current economic conditions. She said that she will continue to park the trucks only on the right side of the lot, next to the fence, in order to keep a fire lane around the building. She keeps trailers in the back corner. She said for shorter moves, clients sometimes leave their cars on the lot. She also said that she allowed her father to store some of his concession trucks on the lot during the winter months. She said that U-Haul does all the servicing of the trucks. Her office hours are M – F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. but limousines are picked up and returned by drivers at any time of day or night and trucks can be returned at any time.

Ms. Benson was asked how the two businesses would coexist as far as keeping the lot looking as uncluttered with vehicles as possible. She said that she would consider keeping fewer limousines outside; she would insist that the drivers park on the left side of the lot instead of the right side and she would be willing to follow any restrictions that the board wants to impose.

Mr. Spear asked if the drivers and truck renters could park at the back of the lot instead of on the side. Ms.

Benson said that would be possible if she installed some kind of lighting such as motion detector lighting.

Mr. Spear said that the parking density is the problem and it would be a big improvement if cars were not parked on the left side of the lot at all.

Abutter Bob Landry said that since the U-Haul truck rental business has started he has lost his tenant, who lived next door to the business. He is concerned that if people are allowed to return trucks late at night, it creates too much noise for a residential neighborhood.

Abutter Peg Landry said that there seem to be many more vehicles in the front of the lot than there used to be and that were agreed to in the previous variance. She said that it just looks crowded and cluttered and she is concerned that it will have an affect on property values in the neighborhood. She would like to see the cars parked in the back of the lot. She feels that lights can be erected which won’t shine over the fences and disturb the neighbors.

Ms. Eckstrom read a letter from abutters Lisa and Matt Davidson in which they stated that the fence that L.A. Limousine erected between the two properties has not been maintained and portions of it have come down. They would like to see the fence put back up along the whole property line and maintained. They also expressed concern about the numbers of vehicles parked on the property. They said that if there was a way to limit the number of vehicles on the lot, they would not have a problem with this variance request.

Ms. Eckstrom closed the public hearing and the Board discussed the request. Mr. Hanisch said that he thinks this request goes beyond what a residential neighborhood can handle. The big U-Haul trucks parked there look like large signs. He felt that the use is inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood and could have a detrimental affect on property values.

Mr. Spear felt that perhaps restricting the number of vehicles on the lot at any given time, more of the vehicles parked at the back of the lot and restricting the hours that people can return trucks might mitigate some of those concerns.

Ms. Roberts said that she feels there is an overuse of this relatively small property. If the Board wants to accommodate this new use, she feels that there need to be some restrictions on the use of the lot. Visibility from the street is an issue, and there needs to be lighting in the back so that people can park there. Signs need to be regulated very carefully. The numbers of vehicles scattered around the lot are a problem and she said that she is not sure that the Board has enough information at this point to make a decision. Can the board restrict drop-off times? Would the restrictions be enforceable? She thinks these restrictions would be very important to the neighbors and she would like to have this information before going any further. Also, she would like to see a plan for the lot – where are which vehicles going to park. She would also like to see a lighting plan.

Mr. Tuttle made a suggested check list that Ms. Benson could use as an aid when designing the requested plans.

Motion Mr. Spear moved to continue this case until August 12th when Ms. Benson can present the Board with a site plan which takes into consideration the above list, and can better help the Board evaluate the site in regards to the requested variance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Tuttle and all were in favor.

Ms. Eckstrom stated that this case will be continued to the August 12th meeting.

Case # 7/8/03 – 4 L.A. LIMOUSINE

L.A. Limousine Service has applied for a variance from the terms of section 16.2 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the erection of a sign that would be closer to the highway than otherwise permitted on Lot L—27, 223 Gibbons Highway.

Ms. Benson explained that if she had to place her sign 15’ in from her lot line, the sign would be in the middle of her parking lot. Section prohibits signs being placed within 15' of lot lines in the Commercial & Industrial District. Ms. Benson’s property is in the Residential & Agricultural District, but there is no provision for sign placement in that district. She wants to place the sign at the edge of her lot line in line with her mailbox and fence, and not in the State ROW. Ms. Benson said that the top of the sign will not exceed 16' above existing ground level.

Ms. Benson said that she was granted a variance in 1998 for the same request, but never erected the sign. The variance lapsed in 2000. She presented a photo of a similar sign to the sign she said she already has, although she didn’t present a photo of it. She said that it is an internally lit sign. Board members explained that in 2001, residents amended the Zoning Ordinance to prohibit all new or replacement internally illuminated signs in all zoning districts. She was told that she could erect the sign and not turn the light on or she could light it from below, following the requirements of

Abutters Lisa & Matt Davidson, via previously mentioned letter, requested that any sign that is erected not be on all night and that a restriction as to the brightness of the sign be made.

Mr. Spear asked Ms. Benson if she had Decision Notices of previous variance requests that had been granted by the ZBA in relation to the erection of a sign. She did and Mr. Spear made copies. The Board discovered that on June 17, 1997, it granted variances for a sign larger than normally allowed in the Residential District, and for an internally illuminated sign, which was not allowed in the Residential District. On January 14, 1998, the Board granted a variance to permit the construction of a sign closer than would otherwise be permitted to a side lot line.

Board members asked Ms. Benson for the dimensions of her sign. She said that it is 4' 4" x 4' 8". This is over the 4' square limit allowed in the Residential & Agricultural District.

Board members discussed the previous decisions and felt that even though Ms. Benson applied only for a variance to allow placement of a sign closer to a lot line than would otherwise be permitted, they wanted to grant her the same variances that she applied for in 1997 and 1998.

Motion Mr. Spear moved to grant the following variances: to allow the erection of a sign within 15' of a lot line; to allow the erection of a sign that is larger than is allowed; 16.2.1 to permit an internally illuminated sign with the condition that the sign is turned off at 10 p.m. The motion was seconded by Mr. Tuttle and all were in favor.
Motion Mr. Hanisch moved to accept the Findings of Fact as written by the applicant in her variance request dated 6/24/03. The motion was seconded by Mr. Tuttle and all were in favor.


Minutes — June 10, 2003 and June 17, 2003

Motion Mr. Spear moved to approve as written the 6/10/03 and 6/17/03 minutes, seconded by Ms. Roberts with all in favor.

There was a motion to adjourn and the meeting did adjourn at 10:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Diane Nilsson, Clerk
Posted: 7/14/03