Pillsbury Memorial Hall

93 Main Street

Sutton Mills, NH 03221


Approved Meeting Minutes for Wednesday June 16, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.


Call to Order: Betsy Forsham, acting Chair, called the meeting to order at. 7:00pm.

Roll Call: Katy Beauchemin, Marc Beauchemin (alternate), Joe Eisenberg (alternate), Sam Gordon

Also in attendance: Peter Stanley (Planning and Zoning Administrator), Gavin Campbell (Gavin Campbell Construction), Robert Stuart (RCS Designs), Bonnie Hill (resident)

Marc will be sitting in for Derek Lick (Chair) and Joe Eisenberg is sitting in for Zachary Brock who were both absent.


Public Hearing:

Case 2021-05 concerning a request by Robert Stuart of RCS Designs, who is representing Andrew and Heather Sideman of 771 Brush Hill Road, Milton MA 02186. Property is located at 81 Penacook Road, Map/Lot 08-155-160, for a variance to the terms of Article X, E, of the Sutton Zoning and Building Ordinance to permit the construction of a Structure (Addition) in a Wetland Buffer Area. Given the age of the structure and the size of the wetland, the required Wetland Buffer is 25’, and that applicants are requesting that the addition setback be 9.5’ from the wetland.

Chair Forsham asked if all fees had been paid. Mr. Stanley said they were and added there were no issues from the abutters who had been notified of the hearing.

Bob Stuart said the addition, as shown on the plan, is to the rear of the building by design. In trying to bring the house up to something more livable in the summer, they find this to be the best place for the addition to be. Otherwise the addition would have to go in front of the garage, taking away from the aesthetics of the historic building, built in 1930.

Bob said he is a certified wetland scientist and did the delineation of the wetland on the property. There is a stream about 75’ from the structure. The plan shows the associated wetlands which are quite extensive. Bob provided a copy of the Shore Land Permit by Notification (PBN) approval, which he received from the state’s Wetlands Bureau.

Bob indicated that the addition is being built on piles, so they are not disturbing the ground as they would if it was being built on a slab or foundation. A silt fence would be put up around the wetland to signify to those doing the work that there is something there that needs to be avoided. This fence is present on the shore land permit plan. The house has rain gutters on every drip edge which disperses into the ground. On this new portion, as well as on the existing house, they have put in gutter dry wells. There were five proposed. This helps to further protect the wetland.

It was noted that the deck was included in the footprint of the building.

Joe asked if they felt it necessary to add any dry wells to the garage. Bob said they had not, but maybe they should. Gavin Campbell said currently there are no gutters on the garage. Peter said they could add a 2’ wide by 2’ deep stone drip edge around the perimeter of the garage. This isn’t something that can be mandated by the Town; however, it was just a suggestion.

Mr. Stewart reviewed the five Variance Criteria, as follows:

  1. The Variance will not be contrary to public interest.

Bob said that the project would not be contrary to public interest. It is actually an improvement due to the measures they are taking to protect the wetlands. The addition would not be visible, as it is behind the home. The appearance of the historical building will remain.

  1. The Variance keeps with the spirit of the ordinance.

Bob explained that they are trying to improve the situation and also make sure whatever they do will be mitigated by the storm water management they are proposing.

  1. Substantial justice will be done.

Bob said that the purpose of the wetland overlay district is to protect the wetlands. This update will be a gain rather than a loss for the neighborhood. The existing homes on or around the lake do not have these protective measures on their homes that this home will have when the addition is complete.

  1. Values of the surrounding homes will not be diminished.

Bob opined that the measures they are taking will help to improve the quality of the water that is introduced to the wetland and eventually to the lake; this is not something that will compromise property values in a negative way.

5(i). Enforcement of the ordinance will result in unnecessary hardship.

Bob said that the historical relevance of this home and the physical setting being further back from the road than all the other homes in the area distinguishes it from the other houses. The homeowners intend to maintain the architectural integrity of the home while allowing upgrading of the kitchen and relocation of the master bedroom. Unique circumstances are complicated by the placement of the addition. It is the only home that is 90’ off the road; every other one is right up next to the road. Had the house been built closer to the road, they would have had plenty of room for this addition without seeking a variance.

5(ii). The proposed use is a reasonable one.

Bob explained that the intent and purpose of the district is to prevent destruction of the natural wetlands. The proposed addition and other sections of the home will employ storm water technology which will result in greater protection of the wetland and eventually the lake.

Bob said the state approved permit shows the silt fence. This is not only to separate the construction area but also for erosion control.

Gavin Campbell showed a plan of the project and explained the one story addition. He noted that the home had been in the family for generations and they are stewards of the land. The addition is approximately 25’ x 26’ in size. Gavin added that to the left of the house there is a water well, which is on a cistern. On the other side of the house, to the right, is the septic tank; a new system was put in recently. If they were to go off the west end of the building, they would be infringing on another wetland buffer. After exhausting all options, the rear of the home was determined to be the best location.

Bonnie Hill, abutter, said she had attended that evening’s meeting to find out about the possible impacts on the wetland and if approval/denial of the project would set a precedent. Chair Forsham assured Ms. Hill that each case that comes before the Zoning Board is heard independently as there are always special considerations and various details to consider. Sam said that each case is considered by using the criteria set before them, in this case for a Variance.

With no other comments from the public, Chair Forsham closed the public hearing portion and the Board began its deliberations. They went through the Criteria for the Variance:


  1. Not be contrary to public interest: Sam said she didn’t think the addition was contrary to public interest; they are going out of their way to make sure there is no impact to the environment. From the neighborhood perspective, there won’t be any noticeable changes. Katy agreed with Sam and likes the fact that they are thinking about the whole picture by updating all the storm water systems. She is less concerned about the project with regards to storm water because it is on piers. Marc agreed with Katy and Sam. He feels that they are mitigating the impact as much as they can. Joe said they are taking public interest to heart when considering the architectural the history of the building, and the environmental concerns. Chair Forsham agreed with all that had been said.
  2. Spirit of the Ordinance is observed: Sam said the spirit is to protect the wetlands, which they are making an effort to do within the buffer. All were in agreement.
  3. Substantial justice is done: Sam thinks that the house being further back than other properties is relevant. She doesn’t think there is a loss for the general public. People would be more concerned about the change to the historic building than building within the wetland buffer. Katy and Marc agreed with Sam. There are measures being taken to maintain the character of the area and the wetlands. Marc added that a first floor bedroom adds to the usability of the property. Joe added that the addition is to the back so any impact to the public is minimal.
  4. Values of surrounding properties will not be diminished: Sam didn’t think the addition is particularly visible and didn’t think it would affect people’s value or their enjoyment of their existing property. Katy agreed and said they are also taking care of the wetlands which will not impact the property values. Marc said there is a buffer between this house and the one next to them, which hides the addition. Joe said that all this will do is increase the value of the homes in the area.
  5. Literal enforcement of the Ordinance would result in unnecessary hardship: Sam said the special conditions of the property are clear; it is set back so far from the road compared to others in the area making it a challenge to put an addition anywhere else. Also, the historic architecture of the building makes it different from the surrounding properties. The placement of the septic and the well make it unnecessarily difficult to put an addition somewhere else. The proposed use is reasonable to her, especially taking into account the additional methods they are taking to protect the property from environmental impact. It would not be reasonable to ask the owners to cut the size back by 15’. All were in agreement with Sam.

It was moved by Sam Gordon to approve the application as submitted. Joe Eisenberg seconded the motion.

Sam: Yes, Katy: Yes, Marc: Yes, Joe: Yes: Betsy, Yes

The motion was APPROVED unanimously.


Meeting Minutes: Review and approve minutes of the April 21, 2021 Public Hearing and Meeting

It was moved by Sam Gordon to approve the minutes, as circulated. Katy Beauchemin seconded the motion.

The motion was approved unanimously.


New Business: Request by Barbara Hoffman, et al, for a re-hearing of Case 2021-03, a Special Exception granted to Peacock Hill Road, LLC for a Cluster Subdivision, located on East Sutton Road.


Chair Forsham felt that they should review all of Ms. Hoffman’s points. Danielle Thomas also sent in some comments which Peter had distributed to the Board prior to the meeting. Forsham also reminded the Board that Joe Driscoll, Town Counsel, had told the Board that the ZBA is not an enforcement agency; that is the purview of Board of Selectmen.

Sam said, in response to Ms. Hoffman’s comment about no deadlines to the conditions, she didn’t see a need for deadlines to be added to the notice of decision. It is physically impossible to have some of the items have a deadline. They cannot put a deadline or consequence into the decision, therefore it isn’t a reason to re-hear the case.  Katy said that there are no “must” terms that can be used in a decision. The NH ZBA Handbook refers to the Planning Board for enforcement, not the ZBA.

Mr. Stanley noted that Peacock Hill Road, LLC had submitted an application for Cluster Development Subdivision to the Planning Board, which will be reviewed at its meeting on June 22nd at 7pm.

The Board continued discussing points from Ms. Hoffman’s letter:

Sam said that Ms. Hoffman’s arguments were subjective disagreements with the Board’s decisions, which were not new.

Forsham said that Ms. Hoffman talks about the wetlands and the yield plan. Forsham noted that the certified wetland scientists had signed off on their delineation in the spring. She thinks a third party will look into the results as part of the Planning Board process.  She also noted that a new Yield Plan has been submitted to the Planning Board, as part of the subdivision application. With regard to Ms. Hoffman’s comment about the use being noxious or offensive, Forsham said that just because people don’t want the cluster development, is not a valid reason to deny the project, as long as the criteria have been met.

Sam said the use of this property for a cluster development compared to a traditional subdivision is not necessarily more offensive to the neighborhood. Chair Forsham said a longer road, which would be part of a conventional subdivision, would create more impact to the area with more cutting of trees. These are things that were already discussed at the meeting. Katy said they need to consider this as a traditional subdivision; the amount of cars will be the same, for instance. This is also something that had already been discussed. Chair Forsham said if the Planning Board thinks it will create an abnormal impact, they will have a traffic study done. It is true people don’t like to see increased traffic, but it doesn’t mean that it is actually impactive. Marc said the question shouldn’t be whether the development should happen, it is how can it be done and how the lots can be laid out in the best way.

With regards to the proposed use or structure, Chair Forsham said given the nature and size of the property it is unreasonable to assume there will be recreational opportunities created, other than walking in the open space area, until the property is actually developed. They can’t say exactly what, if any, amenities might be possible or desired by the home owners.

Sam opined that it is important to note that the criteria for a Special Exception is significantly less than it is for a Variance; it is a much lower bar. She feels the Zoning Board is being attacked and feels that it has a limited threshold. All it needs to determine is if the lot is physically capable of holding the cluster development as proposed. That is the limit of the ZBA’s purview. This project will next go before the Planning Board, where the developer will have lots of hoops to jump through during that process.

Sam said there is nothing new in the letter other than concern for the lack of deadlines.

Sam said point #3 was that the applicant violated some of the conditions.  However, as was stated earlier, this is not the purview of the ZBA.  Mr. Stanley said that the applicant was told to replace trees that were cut/run over and that he has done so. Mr. Stanley also noted that no one can revoke a special exception even if violations have occurred.

It was the determination of the Board that there was no new information which would cause a revisit of the special exception approval.

It was moved by Sam Gordon and seconded by Marc Beauchemin to DENY the request for a re-hearing.

Sam: Yes, Katy: Yes, Marc: Yes, Joe: Yes: Betsy, Yes

The motion was APPROVED unanimously.


Mr. Stanley noted that he had not received any new applications, so there will be no July meeting.


With no other business to discuss, Chair Forsham called for a motion to adjourn.


It was moved to adjourn by Katy Beauchemin and seconded by Joe Eisenberg.

The motion was approved unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:15pm


Respectfully submitted,

Kristy Heath, Recording Secretary