TOWN OF SUTTON
Pillsbury Memorial Town Hall
93 Main Street Sutton Mills, NH
Sutton Mills, NH 03221

PLANNING BOARD

September 10, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

CALL TO ORDER:    Chair Wells called the meeting to order at 7:00pm. Roll was called.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Roger Wells (Chair), Glenn Pogust, David Angeli, Jim Lowe, Bill Curless, Debbie Lang, Julie McCarthy, David Hill, Alternate

Chair Wells called the roll. All were present.

ADMINISTRATIVE:

Approval of Minutes from July 23, 2019

IT WAS MOVED (Bill Curless) AND SECONDED (Jim Lowe) to approve the amended minutes of the July 23, 2019 Planning Board Meeting. THE MOTION WAS APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.

Sutton Master Plan Discussion

Chair Wells asked for members to share their answers to the five discussion question prompts he provided to them.

Here were the responses:

What are the things that are most precious to us as a town:

Jim Lowe: the beauty of the town, tranquility, friendliness of people, abundance of nature, clean, healthy environment.

David Angeli: rural setting of the town, small-town atmosphere, recreation, amount of land in conservation, a lot of land that isn’t posted allowing for more activity, large open parcels of land.

Debbie Lang: scenery, safety, sense of community, recreation

Glenn Pogust: a sense of belonging, absence of serious environmental risks, chain stores, strip malls

Bill Curless: open space, friendly people

Julie McCarthy: their travel-ways are beautiful, Musterfield Farm is very precious to the town

Chair Wells: the three villages, bodies of water, history and historic buildings, freedom to live without too many rules and regulations.

David Hill: sense of peace and no fear from the unknown or crime.

What things or issues are of most concern to us as a town?

Jim Lowe: tax increases each year, two large water bodies and maintaining their quality, lack of commercial business, viability of the general store (town hub), growing lack of resident ownership of properties. Concerned with lack of cohesiveness between N. Sutton, Sutton Mills, and South Sutton. They don’t have any community gathering space. Wilmot has created a space which is nice.

David Angeli:  David agreed with all of what Jim stated.

Debbie Lang: In addition to Jim’s comments, the aging population, lack of affordable housing

Glenn Pogust: No influx of young families, insufficient tax base, increased cost to replace and refurbish infrastructure and maintain the school system.

Bill Curless: Bill agreed with what had been said.

Julie McCarthy: Road conditions are poor in places and they don’t have the funding to fix them.  They need to protect their natural resources.

Chair Wells: There is little if any practical historic protection. Also, little permanent protection of rural open spaces. 9/10 of the land is private and can be built on. The changing demographic encourages the absent wealthy and not the native non-wealthy, causing inability of old timers to stay.  Their share of school costs which doesn’t consider the town’s lack of commercial land.

There was some discussion about how the school share costs were determined. It was unclear what the ratio/formula currently was.

What other towns we most appreciate and why?

Jim Lowe: Wilmot, Warner, Newbury. He is impressed with Wilmot because of their cohesive community atmosphere. Lots of activity within the fire department, WCA barn, town hall is available for a multitude of events. They have Wilmot Center, Wilmot Flat, and North Wilmot. Warner: most of it is rural but they have a small part that is not.

Bill Curless said in Warner, the sewer department brought into the area a lot of people and businesses which is good for the overall community. 

Julie McCarthy said Warner is a walking village, which is nice.

Mr. Curless said long range planning can help to create more of a community feel in their own town. Commercially zoned areas could help the overall town to thrive. They need to look past the few that may be negatively impacted, and consider the benefits to the town. 

Chair Wells said all the villages could have mixed use; he preferred this term over “commercial.”

David Angeli: Warner and their opportunities off of Exit 9. Wilmot he has always been impressed with. Great sense of community there including the Fire Department.

Debbie Lang: Warner: she saw some similarities.  Bradford: their introduction of Sweet Beet, Village Café, and a health center, etc. They are bringing life to the town.  Mr. Wells noted the other businesses they have (gas station, Village Pizza, Dunkin, Appleseed restaurant).

Glenn Pogust: Doesn’t know enough about the other towns to compare. Windsor, VT has the Harpoon Brewery and accompanying businesses in one area.  One has to think if there is enough of a market to do something like that in Sutton.

Mr. Angeli said whatever they decide to do should revolve around leisure. Microbrewery, indoor tennis, etc.

Chair Wells: They have to make it easy for someone to take the risk to do something in their town. They have to offer constructive incentives.

Mr. Curless: suggested allowing for mixed use areas from Route 114 from the transfer station to Vernondale’s Store to the river, and up to Exit 10. All of Gile Pond Road and near the town hall. Those would be the spots that were most open to do this. This would create two triangular chunks of land with a piece in the middle, connecting them together. They could try to get it zoned for this, and it would be beneficial to the town as a whole.

Julie McCarthy: agreed with all that had been said.

What should we be doing that they aren’t?

Chair Wells: encourage land uses that don’t  burden the schools and have potential to increase our tax base. Provide avenues of conversion of private open space to public or deed restricted. Encouraging village improvement through a variety of incentives while still protecting their history. Educate the public and how best to protect what we love by encouraging the changes we want and need.

There are ways to encourage more easements. Mr. Wells said it takes time to educate people and get them to vote how the town wants them to at town meeting.

Mr. Stanley said they have to balance their desire for rural charm with the desire to maintain their roads, etc. Look for the tracks of land off the beaten path that may be suitable for mixed use. Mr. Stanley said the nature of commercial is changing rapidly, especially retail. It is largely going away and becoming computer-based.

Chair Wells said they need to go in slow, small steps so they don’t get ahead of themselves and people can absorb the changes. People feel nervous with too many changes all at once. Julie said in North Carolina, when they do something commercial, you can’t see it from the road. They hide it with a berm.   

Chair Wells said there is no legitimate or reasonable way they can compete with normal commercial (New London, Warner, etc.)  They aren’t in a position to compete with that.

Mr. Curless said the reality is if they contact a company that is thinking about going to one spot, suggest going five miles down the road. Otherwise they’ll be paying taxes on the land not the building for 5-10 years. Chair Wells agreed and said this is the kind of thing that they need to present in a way to convince people that short term, the development doesn’t impact them, and long term it will help them. Chair Wells said the old timers don’t want any change at all, but they want to sell their property for a high price.

Mr. Pogust said if they could find a way to be attractive for more homes with a demographic of people to come in, they’d be adding to the tax base (taking land out of Current Use), and adding people to the school. The enrollment is going down but the cost to maintain the school is staying the same or going up.  How can they build the community? It would go hand in hand with the villages and add to the tax base. Possibly give more of a sense of cohesion and a reason for mixed used opportunities. Tax incentives are being taken advantage of by big corporations and the risk is that they need to figure out how to develop and provide housing that is attractive to the current generations. Bring in younger people and offer more opportunities.

Chair Wells said they need developers and builders like Dan Wolf to come talk to them. How can they create more mixed use and get someone like him to be interested in their area, what would they need to do?  What is it that will attract a risk taker to the town?  This information won’t come from a planning organization. They need an entrepreneur.

Mr. Curless wondered how many camps there still were on Keysar Lake? It was thought only a few if any, although some people only stay there for the summer. Mr. Curless said ability to protect large tracts of land by putting them in current use could maybe also be applied to camps. The buildings aren’t worth much, but it is the land that is valuable. If they want to preserve their lakes this is a good idea.

Chair Wells said anyone with 10 acres or more can put their land in current use.

Mr. Pogust said it could be a tradeoff that if there was less than 10 acres and no current use ability, they could have the option to put the property under easement.

Mr. Stanley said those who only come up occasionally don’t use the services in the town or put kids in the school system. They bring in the tax revenue but don’t use any of the services. It is a double-edged sword. They don’t impact the water or schools but make a huge bump to the tax revenue.

Mr. Lowe noted that these kinds of residents do not help with the sense of community.  This may be Ok with towns around larger lakes like Sunapee, but not the smaller lakes.

What is your assessment of current Master Plan?

Chair Wells: No one in their right mind will read this, as it is 191 pages in length. It was last updated in 2005. Such a lengthy document won’t achieve anything. He suggested that the members skim through it. Look at the goals and recommendations. The supporting data isn’t necessarily important.  Some they have achieved, some they wouldn’t want to. What do they agree with and what do they not? 

Chair Wells read what a master plan should be, as per definition by the state of NH.

The required sections are:

Vision – directs other sections of the plan.

 Statements articulate desires of citizens affected by Master Plan.

 Guiding principles and priorities to implement the vision.

Land use – all following sections should be based on this.

This translates the vision statements into visual term

The Master Plan may also include the following sections: transportation, economic development, natural resources, recreation, utilities, etc…  The current Master Plan has all of these sections and the volume of the document is overwhelming and ruins the intent of the two required sections. He asked them to read through the master plan and skim for parts they would like to keep.

Chair Wells said an executive summary at the beginning would be helpful, with a conditions map and a proposed map and suggestions on how to get to where they want to be.  This will be backed up by a thick appendix that could include these other sections. They would like to reduce the size of the document from the 2005 version. 

Chair Wells asked the Planning Board to peruse the Master Plan for the next meeting. What goals do they agree with? Not agree with? What was missed? Do the same with the recommendations. Get a sense of what they agree they need to do. They will then agree on how they want to involve the public. Last time they created a questionnaire. There was not a great response-rate, however it is important to offer the opportunity for them to participate.


October 8th is the next meeting of the Planning Board.

Chair Wells said in the meantime he would work with Mr. Stanley on which map they’d like to use. He would like to communicate with the Regional Planning Commission to see what would it cost to implement this but the way they want it; they don’t want another 191 page document. They want this to be a used document, not a shelved document.

With no further business, Chair Wells called for a motion to adjourn.

IT WAS MOVED (Glenn Pogust) AND SECONDED (Julie McCarthy) to adjourn the Planning Board meeting of August 10, 2019. THE MOTION WAS APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.

The meeting adjourned at 8:17pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristy Heath, Recording Secretary

Town of Sutton