Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

March 14, 2006

Voting BoardChairperson Neil Faiman; members Joanna Eckstrom, Carol Roberts, Jim Tuttle & Bob Spear.
ClerkDiane Nilsson
AgendaHousehold of Faith – variance

Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. and introduced the board members.


Minutes — February14, 2006

MotionTuttle/Spear to approve as printed. All in favor.

Case #2/14/06–2 — HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH (continued)

Household of Faith has applied for a variance to section 5.3.7 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the creation of five dwelling units in the existing building on Lot J-038, 16 Maple Street.

Peter Manha represented the HOF. Mr. Faiman gave him a copy of an excerpt of the Fisher v. Dover 120 NH 187, (1980) from The Board of Adjustment in New Hampshire – A Handbook for Local Officials, which states:

“When a material change of circumstances affecting the merits of the application has not occurred or the application is not for a use that materially differs in nature and degree from its predecessor, the board of adjustment may not lawfully reach the merits of the petition. If it were otherwise, there would be no finality to proceedings before the board of adjustment, the integrity of the zoning plan would be threatened, and an undue burden would be placed on property owners seeking to uphold the zoning plan.”

Mr. Faiman then explained that Mr. Manha had telephoned him and asked if this variance request could jeopardize or affect his previously granted variance. Mr. Faiman said that he couldn’t think of a reason why it would, but he wanted to ask the board. Board members agreed.

MotonEckstrom/Tuttle to affirm that any decision made tonight will not affect the previously granted variance for four units. All in favor.

Mr. Faiman explained the Board procedures for hearing a case. Mr. Manha provided plans showing units 1 – 4 with the addition of unit 5 where the pool currently is. He also explained that the HOF is now planning to put in high-end apartments or condos rather than mixed-rents as previously presented.

Ms. Eckstrom asked why the HOF didn’t implement the plan that was approved by the Planning Board for 4 units and see how successful that was before coming to the ZBA and asking for a 5th unit? Mr. Manha answered that spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that isn’t going to work isn’t the best idea. She asked what the plan for the pool area was with the 4 unit plan. Mr. Manha answered that they were planning to turn it into a four bay garage.

Mr. Manha provided income and expense analysis for 4 vs. 5 rental units and Mr. Manha said that having the 5th rental unit provided just enough income to make the project worthwhile.

At this point the Board discussed Fisher v. Dover and whether the Board had the right to consider the decision at all. They discussed whether asking for 5 units was materially different than asking for 7 units. Most felt that when the Board granted the variance for 4 units it chose that number because it was the highest that the neighborhood could tolerate. They discussed whether HOF asking high-end rents now vs. mixed rents on the previous application was a material difference. Most did not. They discussed whether rental units vs. condos was a material change of circumstances. Mr. Spear said that he would like to know if HOF was planning to sell the units or rent the units. Mr. Manha said that they will sell the units as condos. Mr. Spear said that he felt that this fact made this application materially different and worthy of consideration by the ZBA. Others did not agree.

MotionEckstrom/Roberts to find that the new application is not substantially different from the application on which the Board made a decision in October and that therefore the Board does not have authority to consider this application. 3 in favor, Spear & Tuttle against.

Board members discussed a policy for applicants who fail to show up for their hearings. Mr. Faiman will bring the policy to the next meeting to be voted on and incorporated in the Rules of Procedure.

MotionSpear/Tuttle to adjourn. All in favor.

Meeting adjourned at 8:53 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Diane Nilsson
Posted March 20, 2006