Town of Wilton, NH

Zoning Board Minutes

July 10, 2007

Voting BoardChairperson Neil Faiman; members Joanna Eckstrom, Carol Roberts, Bob Spear & Jim Tuttle; alternate members Andy Hoar and John Jowders.
  • Paul Joseph Poisson – special exception
  • Koster/Fowler – special exception
  • Hillside of Wilton, LLC – variance and special exception
  • Kevin J. Degroot – special exception and variances

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

Minutes — June 12, 2007

MotionEckstrom/Tuttle to approve the 6/12/07 minutes as written. All were in favor.

Case #6/12/07–1 — Poisson

Paul Joseph Poisson has requested a special exception under the terms of section 11.4(a) of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the construction of a driveway that will cross a wetland area in connection with a proposed subdivision of Lot H-124, Captain Clark Highway. Continued from June 12.

Board members voting on this case were Faiman, Tuttle, Eckstrom, Hoar and Jowders. Faiman said that there was a site walk on June 23rd and all board members except Tuttle attended. He presented copies of the review from LaBombard Engineering to board members and abutters who wanted them.

Mike Carter, with Todd Land Use Consultants, again represented the applicant, presented copies of the plan, and explained that Mr. LaBombard’s one suggestion was that they change the side slopes of the crossings from a 1:1 ratio to a 3:1 ratio. He said that the applicant agrees that it is a good idea and they are willing to make the change.

Spear presented a CDs, with digital photos of the crossing area taken at the site walk, for the file and for the applicant.

No one from the audience had any questions or comments. Faiman said that although the subdivision itself felt squeezed in to him, that was not an issue for the ZBA to consider. He said there is certainly the area to support two lots, clearly there is no way to access the lot in back without crossing the wetlands and it looks like the proposal is the best way to accomplish that, so it seemed to him to meet all the requirements of the special exception. Jowders and Eckstrom agreed. Tuttle said that although the area to be disturbed is large, 2,300’, the impact itself is minimal and the erosion control and spreaders that they have incorporated in the plan are going to protect the ground.

MotionEckstrom/Tuttle To grant the special exception for a wetland crossing as shown on the plan, subject to applicant amending plan to show 3:1 side slopes of the road. All in favor.

Case #7/10/07–1 — Beverly Koster and Eric and Sophia Fowler

Beverly Koster and Eric and Sophia Fowler have applied for a special exception under section 17.3 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the construction of a shed on Lot J-136, 37 Burns Hill Road, which would be closer to a lot line than is otherwise permitted by the Ordinance.

Board members voting on this case were Faiman, Roberts, Spear, Eckstrom and Tuttle.

Eric Fowler presented a copy of the tax map showing his 0.8 acre property and the location where he would like to place a 10’ x 12’ Rubbermaid shed. He said he wants to store lawn equipment in the shed and wants to place it 2’ to 5’ within the 15’ side setback so it will have less impact on the neighborhood and so it will allow his family more use of their backyard. He has not had the property surveyed so he did not know exactly where the property line is. He then read his reasons why he thought the special exception should be granted.

Faiman stated that the special exception is intended to allow reduced setbacks in situations where the dimensions of the lot or the placement of existing structures on the lot are such that there is no reasonable placement of a proposed new structure which conforms with the lot setback requirements. He asked Mr. Fowler if he was arguing that there is, in fact, no reasonable place that he could put the shed on the lot which would satisfy the setback requirements? Mr. Fowler said that the shed could be located in other places in the yard, but it would be more visible and would have more of an impact on his family’s ability to use the yard.

Melodie Jones, Lot 137, said that she currently has drainage issues on her property and wants to be sure that the erection of a shed won’t create any more. Mr. Fowler said that generally water runs down School Road and down the two driveways but does not run in the area of his yard where he is proposing to erect the shed.

Hoar asked what would happen if he pulled the shed out of the setback. Mr. Fowler said that his family would lose 2’ – 5’ of usable property.

Faiman said he would not be comfortable granting the request without a site visit. Spear agreed and added that he would like the applicant to clarify where the property line is and delineate it as well as placing stakes at the four corners of the proposed location of the shed. Roberts said she would like the property line surveyed before granting the request. Faiman said that if the deed provides enough information, Mr. Fowler should be able to mark the line. If it doesn’t, then maybe he should get a surveyor to mark that line. He said that it’s hard to talk about how much of a setback the ZBA might be granting when the applicant doesn’t know where the lot line is.

MotionSpear/Roberts To continue the case to the August meeting; make a site visit at 9 a.m. on August 4th to see the proposed location; the applicant is requested to provide, as accurate as possible, a delineation of the lot line, and the location of the shed should be marked on the ground, and to indicate the location of the structures on Lot 138 on the plan. All were in favor.

Case #7/10/07–2 — Hillside of Wilton, LLC

Hillside of Wilton, LLC, has applied for a variance to section 6.3.5(a) of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance to permit six lots to be accessed by a single private way in connection with a proposed subdivision of Lot D-84, Pead Hill Road, and also for a special exception under section 11.4 of the Ordinance, to permit the private way and driveways to cross wetland areas on the property.

Board members voting on this case were Faiman, Roberts, Spear, Eckstrom and Tuttle.

Stefan Toth, with Toth Engineering, PLLC, represented the applicant and showed two proposals for private ways which would access a proposed 7 lot subdivision of 82 acres, 6 of the lots via Pead Hill Road and 1 lot via Hillside Road. The lot abuts Pead Hill Road and Hillside Road, the land slopes toward Pead Hill Road, there are various wetland areas on the property, an older apple orchard as well as a current tree farm with woods road.

Mr. Toth explained that the first proposal showed two private ways and driveway configurations that in total would create 4 wetland crossings, 6,800 sq. ft. of impact if built. In addition, two curb cuts would be required and their locations would be close to driveways across Pead Hill Road. He said that the applicants do not prefer this plan, but it does conform to the requirement in the ordinance that a maximum of four dwelling units may be accessed from one private way.

The proposal preferred by the applicants is one private way and driveway configurations that would create 1 wetland crossing of 1,200 sq. ft. Six driveways would take their access from this private way and it would be 1,400’ in length. He said that both proposals were shown to the road agent and the fire chief and the fire chief preferred the one private way because it was less complicated.

Eckstrom asked, out of the 80+ acres how many acres are in wetlands. Mr. Toth estimated between 5 and 8 acres and said he could have the exact amount at the next meeting.

Abutter Mark Goinsalvos, Lot D-82-2, asked for clarification about the location of the private way. Mr. Toth showed it to him on the plan.

Abutter Elizabeth Dunn, Lot D-84-3, asked for clarification about the 2.05 acre piece in the northeast corner of the subdivision marked, “annex to Lot D-85.” Cappy Demontigny, one of the principals of Hillside of Wilton, LLC, explained that the owners of Lot D-85 may purchase that land. If they do not, then it will be added to the abutting lot of 11.31 acres.

There was discussion about a proposed fire pond that the fire chief wants on the property. Ms. Dunn asked where it would be located and had concerns about her barn being in its path should it ever flood. Mr. Toth said that discussions about the fire pond would be more appropriate at the planning board hearings because the designs and location etc. will be finalized there.

Abutter Mike Campbell, Lots B-40 and B-41, asked what dredge and fill meant. Mr. Toth explained the procedure.

Spear asked what the applicant proposes to replace the current 15” plastic pipe with. Mr. Toth said he would recommend perhaps a 15’ to 18” round plastic culvert.

There was discussion about a site walk and about having the plans reviewed by the town engineer. Hoar asked if plans of the crossing itself actually exist. Faiman said that usually the board receives road cross sections, details of the proposed crossing construction. Mr. Toth said he hadn’t prepared them because he didn’t think the board would need them. Faiman said the board would appreciate them.

Faiman summarized what the board needs from Mr. Toth: A few sets of full sized plans for board members to look at, same with the crossing detail, getting those to the engineer and getting a quote from him, and setting up a time for a site walk.

The site visit was set up for Saturday, August 4 at 10 a.m. Meet at Pead Hill Road where the woods road currently exists, just east of the Stearns property, 70 Pead Hill Road and just west of the Chaput property, 56 Pead Hill Road.

Mr. Campbell said that he would prefer a single driveway in order to preserve the wetlands.

Abutter Monty Burge, Lot B-44, said he owns the property directly across from the proposed second private way that the applicant doesn’t want to build. He said that he doesn’t want them to build it either because headlights from the road would shine right into his house. He was also concerned about the runoff from that second driveway, not only for his property, but for his next-door-neighbors the Stearns. He said that two driveways are going to make it twice as bad for everyone else down the hill.

Abutter Robert Dolinak, Lot B-42-1, wanted to agree with Mr. Burge and also to add that from an emergency/safety standpoint, he thinks it would be much easier and faster to find a house with one road than with two.

Abutter Ken Stickney, Lot B-42, also said he would appreciate it if there could be just one road. He said the property owners went to a lot of work to preserve a number of trees that would have to be taken out if a second road is required.

Abutter Linda Goinsalvos, Lot D-82-2, said she was very concerned about runoff from the entire project. She said that there was a lot of water coming from the logging road in the April floods and her home got wiped out. She would like more information as to how this project is going to affect her lot. She said that she went before the selectmen to see if she could get some help after the flood and Dan Donovan said that the Hillside of Wilton project has had very poor erosion control measures in place.

Mr. Burge said that one of the problems during the flood was that there was a plugged culvert that contributed to part of the problems.

Ms. Dunn said that she is also concerned with erosion. She and her daughter-in-law own most of the land on the southeastern boundary. She said there used to be a tree cover protecting their land, but it has all been cut down. She wanted to know what would keep the soil from washing down onto her property.

Faiman said that he would appreciate seeing more detail about the proposed diversion of water from the road through what has been described as a natural swale; some calculations about how the water flow will be affected there and the effectiveness of that in diverting the water that’s coming down the road. He suggested that this could be added to Mr. Toth’s list of things the board would like to see at the next meeting.

MotionEckstrom/Spear To continue the case to the August 14 meeting; to hold a site visit on August 4 at 10 a.m.; to submit the plans for review by the town engineer; and to invite the town engineer to attend the site visit. All were in favor.

Case #7/10/07–3 — Kevin J. Degroot

Kevin J. Degroot has applied for a special exception under section 5.3.7 of the Wilton Zoning Ordinance, to permit the conversion of the existing building on Lot J-16, 9 Dale Street (“The Odd Fellows Hall”) for three-family residential use, and also for variances to sections 5.3.7(a), to allow three dwelling units where the ordinance would only allow two; to section 5.3.7(c), to allow the use of the existing paved parking area which is within the lot setback; and to section 5.3.7(d), to allow less open space on the lot than would otherwise be required by the ordinance.

Eckstrom stated that since she is a close neighbor to the property, she asked the applicant if they felt there was a conflict with her presence on the board. The applicant said there was not.

Board members voting on this care were Faiman Spear Eckstrom Jowders and Hoar.

Dawn Tuomala, with Monadnock Survey, represented the applicant and presented a site plan showing the lot as it currently exists. She explained that the applicant is asking for a variance to 5.3.7(a) to allow a three-unit building on 0.272 acres where 0.5 or more is required by the ordinance. The applicant is also asking for parking within the setback, which is not allowed in the ordinance, and the applicant is asking for a variance to the open space requirement that says open space shall be two times the total area of the drives, parking and buildings, because the plan does not meet that requirement. She said the property is in the Residential as well as the Aquifer Protection District.

She said currently the open space covers 6,180 sq. ft. which is 1.1 times the buildings and paved areas. She then presented an architect’s proposal for 6 parking spaces on the lot and two of her own.

Her first proposal shows the parking area 5’ from the side lot line and 1’ from the front lot line and the open space is 1.6 times the impervious surfaces. Her second rendition shows the parking area 1’ from the side lot line and 5’ from the front lot line and the open space is 1.5 times the impervious surfaces.

She explained that there is currently a curb cut and driveway at the westerly lot line that services adjacent lot J-15. She said that this will be discontinued and that the road agent approved the new proposed curb cut. She presented a letter from the road agent confirming same.

Attorney Gregory Michael represented the applicant and said that the applicant intends to erect a fence between his property and the church parking lot. He suggested that perhaps the parking itself is grandfathered. He distributed a tax map of the area with multi-family homes marked. He then went through the criteria for the special exception. See file. He said the applicants propose to convert the building into three two-bedroom units.

He then argued the reasons for three units when only two are allowed. See file. The gross floor space is 4,000 sq. ft. and the applicant would need to build three or four bedroom units if they could only have two units. He said that this would invite children and a more intense use. He claimed that the board must consider the financial hardship to the owner if only allowed to build two units.

He then went through the variance criteria for parking within the setback. See file.

Mr. Michaels then went through the variance criteria for the open space requirement. See file. He then concluded his presentation.

Faiman noted that it was 10:30 p.m. and that, according to the bylaws, the meeting must end unless there is a unanimous vote from board members to continue.

MotionSpear/Eckstrom To continue the meeting to 11 p.m. All were in favor.

Spear asked how many of the multi-family homes marked on the map were three-family. Mr. Michaels didn’t know. Spear said he didn’t know of any that were three-family except for an apartment building. He said he had a hard time accepting that the board has to grant a variance for a three-family because of the owner’s investment and return on investment needs. He said the owner knew what he was buying when he bought the building.

Kevin Degroot said that he is trying to balance economics with the square footage of the building. He said some of the concerns of the church were families with youngsters that would use their parking lot and, that in turn would be a liability for them. He said that building two units would encourage families and three units would lessen the chances of families. Spear asked how could you not say that in a smaller unit you might have a single parent with children. Mr. Degroot said that he will be able to limit that with a condo bylaw.

William Condra, Trustee, Second Congregational Church, said that he has been asked by the church to express to the board their strongest objection to the property being converted to a three-family structure. He said they have no objection to two-family residential use because it’s allowed by ordinance. He said that they are concerned that putting a three-family structure there will cause them considerable grief over the outflow from the structure. Two families = four cars + visitors, three families = six cars + visitors, and where do the visitors go? He said their opinion is that church members would be out there shooing them out of the parking lot. He said that they are concerned about the safety of their building in case of a fire and that you amplify the potential for a fire disaster by a factor of 6 when you go from 2 units to 3. He said he didn’t see any fire safety in any of the plans. He said the fire code requires a fire lane and he didn’t see a fire lane nor the potential for one. He said putting three families in there puts three families at risk. Putting two in there is in compliance with the ordinance. He said the church objects to 6 vehicles coming out of the new curb cut as opposed to 4; they abject to the number of UPS, mail, gas, furniture deliveries and all of the trappings that come with residential use. They are not opposed to two units, but when you add one more to that there’s a 1/3 increase in the impact on the safety of the surrounding neighbors. He said that the church has 200 members, 160 active members, and that the board of trustees cast a unanimous vote to express to the church committee that it objected to the building being converted to a three-family. The church committee unanimously directed the trustees to express its concern to the board that as a direct abutter they strongly object to the three-family use.

Dwight Sowerby, member, Second Congregational Church, said that the standards he believes the board should be looking at for the three- family question are the standards for a use variance, not an area variance, and that changes the analysis that the board needs to do rather dramatically. He said a three-family use is not permitted on that lot in that zone because the lot is undersized. To change that from a two-family to a three-family is a change in use.

Dick Rockwood said he had heard the term reasonable a number of times from Attorney Michaels and he agreed that residential use is a reasonable use for the building, probably the only reasonable use for it. But, he said, it is an unreasonable intensity of use in that particular building on that particular site. It is totally unreasonable. And, he said, it’s quite obvious that the applicant is not looking for apartments, he’s going to convert the building to condominiums and he’s going to sell them. He felt it was not the town’s responsibility to bail anyone out financially and he didn’t think the Supreme Court would give that opinion either. He thought the ZBA needs to think about the intensity of the use, not the use itself.

Jim Cutler, member, Second Congregational Church, expressed concern as to how the applicant would place a fence and a parking area while still having room in the setback to maintain the fence.

Mr. Condra said that there are many 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 sq, ft. single family homes being built in Wilton right now, so the Odd Fellows Hall is also viable as a single family home. He also mentioned the 10,000 sq. ft. Abbot House that is being made into four 2,000 sq. ft. units.

Eckstrom asked if church members had the ability to park on lot J-18, behind the church. Mr. Condra said no it is private parking only, but the owners of Lot J-18 have an easement through the church parking lot to get to their property. She asked where overflow parking is for the church. Mr. Condra said down by the river mostly and for large events, wherever people can find a place to park. She asked about the past parking arrangements between the Odd Fellows and the church. Mr. Cutler explained that there was not a recorded easement, but a gentleman’s agreement: the church provided the curb cut for the Odd Fellows and maintained their parking area and in return were allowed to use it.

MotionSpear/Jowders To continue the hearing to the August 14 meeting. All were in favor.

A site visit was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 14th.

Faiman announced the fall planning and zoning conference on Saturday, October 13th at Loon Mt. The Local Government Center is looking for nominees for municipal volunteer awards. Both announcements are in the ZBA mail slot in the office.

MotionSpear/Tuttle to adjourn the meeting. All were in favor.

The meeting adjourned at 11:05 p.m.

Submitted by Diane Nilsson

Posted July 18, 2007