Town of Sutton

TOWN OF SUTTON

Pillsbury Memorial Hall

93 Main Street

Sutton Mills, NH 03221

Zoning Board of Adjustment

Corrected and Approved Minutes of the Regular Meeting

Wednesday June 20, 2018

 

Board Members Present: Derek Lick, Chair; Ed Canane; Betsy Forsham; Samantha Gordon; and Joe Eisenberg, Alternate sitting in for Doug Sweet

Board Members Absent: Doug Sweet

Staff Present: Diane Lander, Town of Sutton Land Use Coordinator

Others Present: Park Adams, New London resident acting as agent for Priscilla and Alan West, New London Residents and Sutton Property Owners; Marilyn and Pete Thompson, Sutton Residents

Public Hearing: Case # Z-18-02 Alan and Priscilla West, Applicants, request a Variance under Article VII, Section A.2 of the Sutton Zoning Ordinance to allow a change from an existing nonconforming use to another nonconforming use.

 

Regular Meeting Call to Order and Roll Call

Chairperson Lick called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m.  Attendance was taken.

 

Public Hearing

Case # Z-18-02 Alan and Priscilla West, Applicants, request a Variance under Article VII, Section A.2 of the Sutton Zoning Ordinance to allow a change from an existing nonconforming use to another nonconforming use.  The property is a multiple-use property located at 90 Main Street, Sutton Mills NH 03221, Tax Map 06 Lot Number 416-245, Residential Zoning District.  The existing structure includes an office on the first floor and two apartments on the second and third floors.  The Applicants propose to convert the office space on the first floor into a one-bedroom apartment.  No proposed change to the exterior of the building.  The owner of the property is West Revocable Trust, Alan and Priscilla West trustees.

  • Park Adams, agent of Priscilla and Alan West, came to the table.
  • The Land Use Coordinator stated that all application fees had been paid.

Motion: Board Member Forsham moved that the Application be considered complete.  Board Member Canane seconded the motion.  The motion carried unanimously.

Chairman Lick opened the Public Hearing and summarized the process to be followed during this Public Hearing.

  • The Applicants’ Agent summarizes the project;
  • Board members provide comments and ask questions of the Applicants’ Agent;
  • Members of the Public direct comments and questions to the Chair of the Board;
  • The Land Use Coordinator introduces written comments received;
  • The Public Hearing is closed;
  • The Board deliberates and then votes on the Application, needing 3 of 5 board members to vote in favor for the Application to be approved; and
  • There is a 30 day appeal to reconsider the decision.

Chairman Lick stated that, due to the circumstances of the Applicants, this meeting could be delayed or continued.  Park Adams thanked Chairman Lick but said that he was ready to proceed.

  • Park Adams then summarized the Variance Criteria portion of the Application.  The estimate is that it will take 2 to 3 months of work to convert the space to a rental.  He also stated that a single person renter has been identified.
  • Park Adams acknowledged the septic system is of concern.  The system was designed by Arthur Siciliano, Jr. in 1996.  The current tank holds 1270 gallons, which NH DES has determined, given the change in use, to be 5 gallons short of the required capacity.  Park Adams stated that the Applicants are hoping for a Variance approval conditional on a new septic system design.
  • It was also noted by the Board that there is a required 118 feet protective well radius setback to a private well and that the Applicants will need to talk with NH DES about this as well.

Chairman Lick asked for comments and questions from the Board.

  • Board Member Forsham said the septic system had been revised in 1998 when the 4-bedroom apartment was changed to a 3-bedroom apartment and the gallon capacity required changed.  Also, NH DES may give waivers and, if so, there may be a way around this concern.
  • Chairman Lick asked for clarification about the number and locations of the bedrooms.  The cottage apartment has 2 bedrooms.  The second floor has a 2-bedroom apartment and a 3-bedroom apartment.  There are no bedrooms on the third floor, only a space like a family room or a den and it is part of the 3-bedroom apartment.  The first floor is currently commercial space and would be converted to a 1-bedroom apartment.  The net change is 7 bedrooms total to 8 bedrooms total.
  • Board Member Canane first asked how much parking was available.  There are 4 to 5 spots to the right and maybe 3 spots on the gravel to the left, for a total of 7 to 8 spaces.  With a cottage and 3 apartments, this averages to 1 to 2 spaces per unit.  He next asked about the site plan, which has not yet been sent to or reviewed by the Planning Board.  He also noted the Fire Chief’s email, received by the Board in the afternoon, as a concern.  However, the Applicants were not yet aware of the Fire Chief’s request for an inspection.
  • Board Member Eisenberg reiterated Board Member Canane’s concern about the Fire Chief’s request for an inspection.
  • Board Member Gordon added that the commercial space has been empty for 1 to 2 years.

Chairman Lick asked for comments and questions from the Members of the Public.

  • Marilyn and Pete Thompson mentioned 2 concerns.  First is that there should be more than one egress from the 3rd floor.  Board response: the Board has received the Fire Chief’s email and it will be discussed later in the meeting.  Second is that there is no area for children to play and they should not be playing on the street.  Board response: there is no restriction to children living at the property, children are currently living in the existing apartments, and the children play in the back lawn area.

Chairman Lick asked the Land Use Coordinator if any written comments have been received.

  • There have been 2 written comments received.  The first is the email from the Fire Chief, which is already in the meeting record.  The second is a letter from Board Member Sweet offering his opinion on the septic system capacity.  Chairman Lick read Board Member Sweet’s letter into the record.  Board Member Sweet is of the opinion that the existing capacity is not sufficient for the requested change in use.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chairman Lick closed the Public Hearing and the Board started its deliberations.

  • Board Member Forsham stated that, if the Application is approved, with conditions, the fire and safety and the septic system issues would need to be addressed and that they would be through the required Building Permit application and the Site Plan Review.  She also noted that the NH DES would want a modified septic system design.  She commented that a purely multifamily dwelling makes more sense than a mixture of commercial and residential.
  • Board Member Canane stated that he supports housing and a 1-bedroom apartment lends itself to residents who may not be able to afford high mortgages.  He then noted that the property is only 0.6 acres and lies within a thickly settled area, and thus he considers the septic system a public health concern as insufficient septic capacity could affect the water quality of the village.  He further stated that he prefers not to address the concern by limiting the number of occupants allowed in the first floor 1-bedroom apartment.  Because of the fire and safety and septic system issues, Board Member Canane suggested the Board consider that all requirements be met and all permits be obtained before approving the Application, versus approving the Application with conditions imposed.  His concern is that, at this point, we do not know what the contingencies will be from the fire and safety inspection and the septic system design review.
  • Board Member Eisenberg agreed that there are too many issues to simply approve the Application.  He also suggested the parking be reviewed to see if there could be more parking spaces.
  • Board Member Gordon stated that she was not as concerned about the parking and suggested that 7 to 8 parking spaces for 4 units would likely be adequate.  She reiterated that, at this point, we do not know what the contingencies will be from the fire and safety inspection and the septic system design review and stated that her main concern is that the protective well radius setback of an overloaded septic system to the private well is less than required.
  • Chairman Lick stated that, in this case, he is sympathetic to the property being less nonconforming and more consistent in use.  He also stated that he considers it acceptable to approve an application with conditions as he does not have the expertise to know about proper fire and safety plans and septic system designs and, instead, relies on professionals to know what is best to do.  And he is hesitant to put an application on hold until the contingencies are determined but, rather, prefers to approve an application with conditions, where the conditions are bullet listed and specifically described, and written documentation that the Applicant has met all conditions and requirements must be received before a building permit can be issued.  Even if an application is approved without conditions, the process of obtaining a building permit or requesting a site plan review would likely flag fire and safety and septic system issues.

Motion: There being no further comments or questions from the Board Members, Chairperson Lick moved to approve the Application as submitted by the Applicants on condition that no building permit is issued unless and until the following conditions are met:

  1. The Town receives a septic system design showing updated loading calculations and a proper protective well radius to the private well consistent with the Applicants’ proposed use as approved by the NH DES; and
  2. The Town receives confirmation in writing from the Town Fire Chief or the Fire Marshall’s office that the Applicants have agreed to install and include any and all fire and safety measures required by them.

Board Member Forsham seconded the motion.

Discussion:

  • The Board discussed the application and concluded that, except the fire and safety and septic system issues, which are included in the motion, the request meets all 5 criteria for a variance.  The change in use is generally a lesser nonconforming use than the existing nonconforming use and the change in use also has less impact on the neighborhood.
  • Board Member Eisenberg suggested that “the Fire Marshall’s office” be taken out of Condition 2.  Chairman Lick accepted this as a friendly amendment.  Condition 2 now reads: “The Town receives confirmation in writing from the Town Fire Chief that the Applicant has agreed to install and include any and all fire and safety measures required by him.”

Chairperson Lick called the question.

The motion carried with a vote of in favor: 5, nay: 0.

New Business: No New Business was brought before the Board.

Old Business: No Old Business was brought before the Board.

Administrative

ZBA procedures and forms

The Board Members decided not to fill out individual worksheets for variance and special exception votes.

Board Member Forsham and the Land Use Coordinator will re-work the ZBA application form and bring a proposed revised form to the next ZBA meeting for the Board to consider.

ZBA agendas, notices of public hearings, and notices of decisions are to be sent to the Town’s Board of Selectmen, Fire Chief, Police Chief, and Road Agent.  Each Town official is to be asked if (s)he wants to receive a copy of any submitted application.

Approval of Minutes

Minutes of the May 30, 2018 meeting

Correction Page 3, Work Session, B, Fourth …: replace … Applicate … with … Applicant.

Motion: Chairperson Lick moved to approve the minutes of the May 30, 2018 meeting as corrected.  Board Member Forsham seconded the motion.  The motion carried unanimously.

Correspondence/Final Comments: None

Adjournment

Motion: There being no further business, Board Member Forsham moved to adjourn the meeting.  Chairman Lick seconded the motion.  The motion carried unanimously.  The meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for August 1, 2018.  This will be an administrative meeting.  The Land Use Coordinator will contact the Board Members to see who can attend this meeting.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Diane M. Lander

Town of Sutton Land Use Coordinator