Pillsbury Memorial Hall

93 Main Street

Sutton Mills, NH 03221


Draft Meeting Minutes for Tuesday August 23, 2022 at 6:00 p.m.


Chair Pogust called the meeting to order at 6:17pm and took roll.


ROLL: Glenn Pogust (Chair), Roger Wells (Vice-Chair), Christine Fletcher, David Hill, Chuck Bolduc


ABSENT: Dane Headley, Peter Blakeman, Jason Teaster (alternate), Christine Angelli (alternate). Peter Stanley (Land Use Coordinator)



Chair Pogust said the meeting would be an open discussion of the residential cluster ordinance. He noted that if they don’t have a new, complete set of regulations to propose by December, they will need to wait another year before making any changes to the cluster ordinance.


There was discussion about the current ordinance and its shortfalls. Chair Pogust said there was a disconnect between land that should be for the common benefit for the owners and land that should be set aside for conservation. There should be things that are part of the residential area and what is left for common land. A separate requirement, which may only apply to certain tracts, would provide that there has to be land set aside for conservation, which should be available to the public. When the developer at King Ridge wanted to set aside 400 acres of conservation, the Town said that the open land had to be owned by the Town and put under a conservation easement. That is what happened and he thought that this could be emulated in future projects.


David said it seemed like the open space was specifically designated for the seven lots and not for the general public. Chair Pogust said a formula could be made that would determine how much land in a cluster subdivision should be put into conservation outside of the common land requirement. It will depend on the size of the tract of land. Not all tracts will allow for a large amount of conservation (public) land.


David wondered if there would be a rejection of this idea by developers. Roger said that they would likely be fine with it if there was some kind of compensation or reward for developing in the town.

Chuck said an interesting idea was to have a list of priorities for the Town, and the number of things the developer takes advantage of gives increased benefits to them from the Town.


Roger said the Town needs to make it much more transparent about what a developer can do.


Chair Pogust said if the land that is going to be turned over for conservation is essentially unbuildable, it is to the advantage of the developer not to own it as they wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it. If the tract is large enough and could be developed, they could get a greater benefit for conserving it.


Chuck said Ausbon Sargent is working to figure out their latest high-priority conservation areas. The Town would be able to look at this list, as well as the Town’s master plan, which has the same kind of list, and identify which properties are the highest in priority to protect.


Chair Pogust said it is important to be able to show people what things would look like under the new cluster ordinance to help them understand the changes. People are more apt to accept the new ideas if they can see a conceptual design/example. Chair Pogust said they should require a yield plan, which will show where on the properties the houses will be, what size they will be, and conceptual ideas on elevations. Roger said they can’t require that people build a certain size or shape of house. Chair Pogust said he is thinking of asking for a general idea. For workforce housing, there are dimensional requirements. He added that if they have large enough buffers, people may not be as opposed to the development if they can’t see it from the road.


Christine asked if a developer said they’d do a traditional subdivision and put a road in, would there be any hearings? Roger said there would not be. Not unless it is a major subdivision. She wondered why the cluster subdivision was different and brought about so much attention. Chair Pogust said that it was because it was seven houses and many didn’t feel it was a traditional cluster development but, per their current ordinance, it was.


Chuck said the benefit of cluster is that it gives another approach to meet some of the goals of the master plan in a good way. The incentive has to be there for the developer and the education has to be there for the community.  Roger said that the project has to make financial sense for the developer.


Roger said white collar housing is increasing and blue collar is decreasing. The white collar people aren’t the ones who will volunteer for things like the Fire Department and work in local government jobs for the town and the schools. They need more affordable housing to bring those people into the town. Chair Pogust said there are a lot of older people who also cannot afford to continue living in town. He has heard this several times. He said that the school district has a problem hiring people because there isn’t housing in the area. The hospital is in the same boat. There are employers in the Upper Valley that are banding together to help developers build workforce housing so that they can hire and keep employees.


Chair Pogust said density and lower infrastructure costs are the benefits of a cluster development

With smaller lots and smaller houses.


What should not be in a cluster?

Chair Pogust said the cluster ordinance should not be used to circumvent the subdivision regulations. This can be prohibited with buffers or smaller lots. Roger said they don’t want lots bigger than two acres. Chuck said they want things consistent with their surroundings. People don’t want to see their surroundings change drastically.


Roger thinks the residential cluster should work so that the property is zoned residential, in part. Not rural. The size of the lots should be limited. In the rural area, they could have larger lots. Chuck said they want to incentivize keeping things consistent with the surroundings. Chair Pogust said if they try to do this in a rural residential district, they won’t achieve the density that they need. Roger said that he was talking mostly about a residential cluster subdivision. Dirt roads would constitute a rural cluster subdivision.


Roger said that he wants to make sure that any proposed ordinance is not too sophisticated for people to understand. He thought the size of the lots being constrained makes sense for the villages. But he wasn’t sure about in other places. There was discussion of attached housing and how that would look/how many would work best as a minimum/maximum.


David asked if they would need separate ordinances or if they would create just one. Chair Pogust said separate ordinances should be created for the villages, for the residential zoned area, and in the rural agricultural area. Otherwise, things get confusing, as they are now.


There was discussion about how much open space or conservation land should be required. It would depend on how large the lot is. Steep slopes and wetlands were discussed as to whether that would be included in the conserved areas.


Roger asked if the board thought there should be an overlay district or if they should mandate the regulations in each zone. The consensus of those present was that there should not be any areas of town where a cluster subdivision would be the only permitted type of subdivision.


Roger showed an example of a hypothetical site in town and said the contours, steep slopes and wetlands were accurate. The property is 30 acres in size, and he had 11 lots on the property that were at least 2 acres of buildable area. Although the design is attractive, he thought the houses would each be $600,000-$800,000 to purchase. In another example on the same parcel, smaller houses and medium-sized houses would be built, along with a few large houses. There would be conservation area included. He wasn’t sure if the second example would make enough money for a developer to come in to build.


Chuck wondered why they want to require conservation or shared open space. Roger said the current regulations ask for this. It doesn’t have to remain. Chuck thought maybe they shouldn’t require that common space is included; they could allow it if they want. There could be a percentage that is a maximum of what the common land would be.


Roger said there are a number of calculations that have to be made to figure out the size of the common land or the conservation land being required, and the size and number of the lots.


Roger asked if a computer-generated perspective of a model subdivision would be worthwhile. He knew that one could be done for the town for $1,500. Perhaps someone else could do it less.


It was moved by Roger Wells and seconded by David Hill to adjourn the meeting.
The motion was approved unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:40pm.


Respectfully submitted,


Kristy Heath, Recording Secretary

Town of Sutton, NH