|Board Members||Chairman Neil Faiman; members, Carol Roberts, Bill Carnduff, Joe Poisson, Andy Hoar.|
Chairman Faiman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and explained that the Board is meeting due to a request for the Board to rehear the Hilltop Cafe request for a Variance. He further explained that the original case was decided on December 10, 2013 so the deadline to request a rehearing was January 9, 2014 and since the minutes were posted on January 19th, the deadline for the receipt of any amendments to the request was February 19th, and all the appropriate deadlines have been met. He also noted that while the meeting is open to the public, it is not a public hearing therefore no public comment will be taken. He explained that anyone who has standing to appeal a decision of the Zoning Board may file a request for rehearing and the Board is then required to meet to decide whether or not to grant the rehearing. If the Zoning Board grants the request they will hold a new hearing and if the Board does not grant the request, the requestor has the right to appeal to the Superior Court. Mr. Faiman further explained that if the rehearing is granted the Board will make a new decision on the original application. In response to a question from Ms. Roberts, Mr. Faiman explained that if the Board decides to grant the request they can decide the parameters of the new hearing and are not required to start from scratch.
Mr. Faiman noted that the Board Members had previously received the request for rehearing and the amendment for review and asked for Board comments.
Mr. Carnduff stated that the only issue the request brought up, that he thinks the Board may not have discussed enough, was regarding handicapped access. He suggested that the Board may want to discuss a restriction regarding ADA compliance, but noted that he found no other valid reason, in the request, to rehear the case.
Mr. Hoar stated that he does not think that ADA compliance falls under the jurisdiction of the Zoning Board.
Mr. Carnduff questioned how separate the farm and café are, or whether the cafe is part of the agricultural business because of its use of what the farm produces. He noted that Mr. Gottstein, the rehearing requestor, stated that "many members stated that they support the farm as do we" and if the farm and café are the same then the requestor is admitting to supporting the café. Mr. Faiman stated that the café is intimately entangled with the farm.
Mr. Carnduff stated that he saw no new concerns or evidence in the request and therefore is inclined to vote against a rehearing.
Mr. Faiman questioned if Mr. Gottstein had standing to request a rehearing explaining that only the Board of Selectmen, abutters, or affected parties are allowed to request a rehearing and Mr. Gottstein lives 0.4 miles from the Hilltop Café.
In response to a question from Mr. Carnduff, Mr. Faiman stated that Mr. Gottstein lives beyond the café so people driving to the café, unless they came from Mason or Gage Road, would not pass his house.
Mr. Faiman stated that having an opinion on a case does not infer standing, one needs to be personally affected.
Mr. Carnduff also noted that the Board did not hear any comment from Mr. Gottstein at the original hearing.
Mr. Poisson expressed concern about whether the Board was fair when listening to the neighbors and the café. He questioned if the Board might have leaned towards the café, if they really considered all the neighbors opinions, and if they fairly looked at both sides.
Mr. Faiman stated that the Board spent 2.5 hours listening to people state their opinions and everyone at the meeting was given the opportunity to speak but he did not hear any compelling arguments at the meeting.
Mr. Hoar stated that it he is not concerned about the expansion prior to having permission as that is an enforcement issue and not something the Zoning Board has control over. He expressed concerned about the magnitude of the opposition but stated that he is not sure what to do about it, noting that it is logistically almost impossible to do a valid traffic study.
Mr. Carnduff stated that he has had breakfast at the café twice recently and the first time there were 24 seats including a separate room which had been opened but the second time the additional room was closed with a sign stating that it would remain closed until it was approved by the Zoning Board. He expressed concern about Mr. Gottstein's reliability as the request for rehearing mentions 30 seats and Mr. Carnduff does not know how that number was arrived at.
Mr. Faiman stated that the Mr. Gottstein lives 0.4 miles from the café and is not in visual or audible range, not affected by most the traffic and he did not see any new information in the request that makes him feel differently about the application.
Mr. Roberts stated that she does not feel that the request presented any concrete new evidence but rather was based on conjecture and emotional statements inflating the issue.
Mr. Faiman noted that after taking public comment he summarized the issues as stated and asked if there were any issues he missed and he did not hear any comment from the public.
A MOTION was made by Mr. Carnduff and SECONDED by Mr. Roberts to deny the request for a rehearing on the grounds that the requestor has not stated a direct effect on himself to give him standing to request the hearing and in addition the Board did not find any arguments in the request that persuaded them that they would be likely to grant the request for rehearing.
Voting: 5 ayes; motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Faiman noted that the applicant can appeal to the Superior Court but the Wilton Zoning Board is done with this case.
A MOTION was made by Ms. Carnduff and SECONDED by Mr. Hoar to adjourn the meeting.
Voting: 5 ayes; motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Faiman declared the meeting to be adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
Heather Loewy Nichols