Pillsbury Memorial Hall

93 Main Street

Sutton Mills, NH 03221


Approved Meeting Minutes for Tuesday August 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.


Chair Wells called the meeting to order at 7:00pm and took roll.


ROLL: Roger Wells (Chair), Glenn Pogust, Christine Fletcher, Dane Headley, David Hill


ABSENT: Chuck Bolduc, Peter Blakeman


OTHERS PRESENT: Peter Stanley (Land Use Coordinator), Kristy Heath, (Recording Secretary), Bruon Steblai, Marilou Steblai, Gary Fitzgerald, Dane D”Arcangelo, Eileen Sibert, Ira Thomas, Danielle Thomas, Amy Manzolli, Barbara Hoffman, Bette Frederickson, Gary Watkins, Linda Park, Shawn Laliberte, Emily Wilmott, Danial Muller, + one.


Public Hearings:

  1. Eversource Scenic Road Tree Cutting Request

Dane D’Arcangelo was there from Eversource to explain the request. Dane said his company wishes to perform a maintenance trim on the scenic roads and cut down some selected trees deemed hazardous to the wires. If contact between the wires and the limbs in question can cause fires. The limbs they wish to cut will be less than 4” in diameter. They are basically cutting what has grown back from the previous maintenance cutting. Some diseased and dying trees are proposed to be cut as well. Dane added that both the Planning Board and the property owners must give permission or Eversource cannot do the work.


Chair Wells understood there were 59 trees that Eversource would like to remove, as well as an untold number of trees that needed trimming.


Glenn Pogust suggested that now that they know about the 59 trees, that they continue this to their next meeting so interested people can identify the trees in question. The timing was short for the Town to learn about the details of the trees to be cut due to summer vacations. Chair Wells said in the past the Planning Board schedules an on-site meeting so the public can go around and look at the trees to be cut. He added that he cannot tell which flags are from Eversource. Dane said that the Eversource flagging is white and blue checkered.


Glenn said if there were any trees on the list that they cannot find, he could contact Dane and let him know. Dane said most of the flagging should be still on the trees. Animals and/or weather or people could have taken them down. Chair Wells suggested the flagging be put up 8-10’ from the tree to keep them up longer. Dane said he wasn’t sure this could be done. He said mostly it is squirrels that pull them down and it doesn’t matter how far up the flagging is placed.


Dane Headley asked if the trees to be cut were all dead or decaying. Dane from Eversource answered in the affirmative. He said the are a lot of scenic roads in Sutton and they actually could have flagged a lot more trees. They don’t want to cause a lot of impact on the scenic roads and only want to cut the bare necessities.


Dane from Eversource said they hope to start the trimming by the end of the year. Peter Stanley said permission is required for both trimming and tree removal.


Glenn asked if they should separate the trimming from the removal. He asked if the trees to be trimmed were just on the list or were there more. Dane said there were many more to be trimmed than on the list. Chair Wells said as a board they cannot comment on the trimming if they don’t know where it will be done. The trees to be trimmed are not flagged.

Dane Headley said that he lives on a scenic road and feels that if Eversource wanted to remove a tree because it was dangerous, he didn’t oppose to it; he didn’t need to go take a look.  Glenn said in the past some trees marked as “dangerous” by Eversource wasn’t deemed as such by the Planning Board and were not cut. Those trees are still standing and are fine today. He feels like the Planning Board should look at the trees on the list before they can make a decision to allow them to be cut down. Dane Headley said he didn’t want to hold up the process and has had problems getting stuck on his road due to downed branches, etc.


It was moved by David Hill and seconded by Glenn Pogust to open the public hearing.

The motion was approved unanimously.


Bruno Steblai of 75 Blaisdell Hill asked what the dimensions were for how Eversource would do the trimming. Dane D’Arcangelo said 15’ from the top-most conductor, 8’ to each side, and 10’ below. Within that zone they will trim branches that are less than 4” in diameter to the branch collar so the tree can heal as quickly as possible. Each cut is deliberate. Bruno asked if a tree will be topped. Dane said that it depends on the property owner. There have been instances where a small tree will be cut down that will open up the road.


With no further comments, Chair Wells closed the public hearing.


It was moved by Glenn Pogust and seconded by Dane Headley to approve the trimming along the scenic roads and continue consideration of the tree removal until the next meeting, September 14, 2021. THE MOTION WAS APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.


  1. Peacock Hill LLC, Major Cluster Subdivision, Preliminary Design Review


Chair Wells noted that this was not a formal application; it is a design review. There would be time for public comment after the presentation was done. There would be no voting that evening; this would just be a discussion.


Arthur Siciliano, surveyor and Daniel Muller, attorney were present to represent Peacock Hill Road, LLC.


Arthur said this was a proposal to subdivide just over 100 acres of land on the west side of East Sutton Road. It is in the residential and rural agricultural district. On April 21, 2021 they applied for a Special Exception to do the major cluster subdivision from the Sutton Zoning Board and it was granted. On sheet 4 the seven lots and 2,600’ of road frontage are shown. Sheet 2 shows the lines. Lot 6 has frontage on East Sutton road and both lots 5 and 6 will share a driveway to access the property.


Arthur noted that there are two parking spaces allotted for each home, no other buildings are proposed besides a house and garage per lot. All seven lots will be serviced by underground electrical lines. They have received State subdivision approval and a DOT permit for the road is pending. Peter said the fire chief has authorized the use of sprinkler systems in lieu of a cistern. They would need to meet the guidelines of NFPA 13-R and would be subject to inspection prior to receiving a certificate of occupancy. Peter said that he would forward the email (a printed copy) to the board members so they could see what the Chief said. Chair Wells said sprinkling the buildings works but they may be required to have a fire pond which, per his calculations, would need to be about an acre in size, and six feet deep.


Peter noted that an electrical plan still needs to be provided. Arthur noted that Eversource won’t look at their electrical plan until they get an approval from the town. All the power will come off from a pole from East Sutton Road. This connection to the power source will have to be done by the builder. Peter said this will have to be in place before the town will sign off on a building permit.


David Hill said he understood that the sprinkler system may draw from the individual wells. Chair Wells said that this will have to be determined once the wells are dug to make sure their supply would suffice. Peter added that an internal system may need to be added to supplement the well water if there is a low flow. He noted that only the high danger areas are sprinkled, not the whole house.


When asked, Attorney Muller said there is no minimum or maximum square footage for the homes. Dane Headley said he would think they would want to have some idea of the sizes to keep continuity in the houses. Attorney Muller said as a practical matter, for marketing, the houses will be more or less similar in size. Chair Wells said regardless, that isn’t in the Planning Board’s purview.


Glenn said he had some questions regarding the declarations. He asked if their intention was to have a homeowner association. Attorny Muller said that there would not be an association and he would remove that wording. Glenn said it looks like there will be an LLC. He asked about snow plowing, etc. and how they would assess the fees for those types of things; perhaps it would be assessed like condo fees are? Attorney Muller said there wouldn’t be condo fees because it isn’t a condo. Glenn asked what happens if the LLC dissolves. Attorney Muller said there is a statute to follow if this should happen. Glenn said the people living in those homes will be residents of the town will be reliant on the LLC. Someone will have to deal with the needs of that community. He has seen many of these communities and the declarant is the sole owner and is responsible in perpetuity. Attorney Muller said that is what is proposed. They could convey it down the road but would have to abide by the regulations. It could be conveyed by the town, an association, or the owner. He added that associations have to have board members. With only seven houses in the development, it is entirely possible that the people living there won’t have the interest or time to do it. This can be an issue. He knows there is concern with successor responsibility and liability. Glenn is concerned with the roads and maintenance of it in snow or in general if the LLC is not present. Attorney Muller said the Town can and has in the past taken over the road. He said that he would talk with the owner about what to do if there is a problem, and how to make sure there is a clear transfer so there is no lapse in service or things of that nature or the improvements within the subdivision.


Chair Wells said that their ordinance does say that the developer can be the owner. The issue isn’t the open space; it’s the road. The homeowners will come to the town to complain if the owners are not doing what needs to be done.


Attorney Muller said he understand they would like a declaration to deal with the common facilities as well as the open space. They would come up with a plan to deal with the administration of the common facilities in the event that the road never gets accepted.


Peter said he hoped that they’d include something in the plan regarding the shared driveway; it is a problem in other parts of the town. There has to be responsibility declared of who is responsible for what. Attorney Muller said for lots 5 and 6 they have a shared driveway easement all ready to go. He said he has experience with this sort of thing.


Glenn said the vote noted in the wording does not pertain to ownership of common facilities. Also, it says the town has no obligation to enforce the declarations. Additionally, it has to be made clear that the state statutes take precedence followed by the zoning ordinance followed by the declarations. Glenn also suggested that when people buy the properties, they need to look at the declarations. This information will be helpful for them to know.


Chair Wells said the open space is for the benefit of the residents. It behooves the applicant to explain in their submission to them, what they are going to do and what obligations are to maintain these spaces. If the residents are unhappy about how the open space is being taken care of, they are going to come to the Town. The declaration has to explain what their responsibilities are. He wants to protect the future residents as well as the Town. How will the space be used or protected? Glenn said “recreational purposes” mentioned in the document should be a bit more specific. Attorney Muller said that they would decide this when the owners decide what they want. Chair Wells said the declarant has complete control over what he is/is not going to do. It would be helpful to have a sense of what the intent is; whether it is trails or tennis courts, etc. 20% of the open space has to be designated on how and where it would be used for recreational purposes. That is 19 acres. Peter said this has to be a plan that is submitted explaining what will go into that area.


David Hill said in the enforcement at the end, it notes “The Town of Pelham.” He thought that should be removed. Attorney Muller agreed.


Chair Wells asked if the applicant’s intent was to lumber the open space.  Attorney Muller said that was part of the plan. Chair wells said that the slash left makes open space essentially unusable. Attorney Muller said that they would make sure that it is cleaned up. There are some areas that their regulations would limit timber activity.


Chair Wells said there is a reference to debris. Clearing for the driveways and houses will include tree and stump removal. That can become a problem. They’d like to understand how the applicant would intend to deal with it. Arthur said they would come up with a construction sequence.


Chair Wells suggested that the driveway connections are so close together there won’t be much landscape left. He would have encouraged them to request a waiver to use a piece of the wetland buffer to extend the road a bit to make this easier. By the time it is cleared, graded and drained, there won’t be much left. Chair Wells said that this is just a suggestion, of course.  Arthur said they would try to keep as many trees as possible.


There was discussion about the intention behind the phrase “immediate access to open space.” Chair Wells asked if by creating the minimum 25’ buffer this means they are providing direct, immediate access?  He believed that “direct access” means they should be able to walk to it. There should be paths or bike trails to allow this and they should give the dimensions. When this is done, considering trees have been removed, it doesn’t conform with the 25’ buffer which states it shouldn’t be touched. Perhaps the buffer zone should be widened to be able to include a path. Arthur said they are meeting the immediate access by having frontage for the common immediate access to the common space. Chair Wells didn’t believe that was what their ordinance meant regarding “immediate access.”


Attorney Muller said he felt they were splitting hairs over the word “immediate.” He said it seemed that Chair Wells was looking for adjacent or abutting access to the open space. Chair Wells said lots 1, 2, 6 and 7 don’t have immediate access. Dane felt that walking down the road was sufficient “immediate access” to the common space.


Chair Wells said the most important place to have the buffer would be around the cemetery. Sub-story or sub-canopy evergreens could be planted to protect the buffer. The community has voiced their concern over the cemetery.


It was moved by Glenn Pogust and seconded by David Hill to open the meeting for public comment. The motion was approved unanimously.


Amy Manzelli, Attorney, was present, representing Danielle and Ira Thomas. She identified on the site plan where the Thomases live. She submitted a letter June 21 regarding the site plan application and hand-delivered copies of the letter to the board. Amy wanted to share some comments to inform the board in their thinking about this application. She had some major concerns with it.


Attorney Manzelli said she understands the board has to provide the input and questions to the applicant and gather information and be ready to approve an application in case the majority of the board isn’t inclined to approve the application. She has been through this type of application and just because it sounds like they are going to approve this with conditions, she feels they should be keeping an open mind and will approve the applications with conditions, no conditions, or deny it based on the evidence before them when the application is filed.


Attorney Manzelli said that this application is not a cluster development. If and when the time comes when the application is filed, she would hope that it is denied. A cluster development is when they “smoosh” all the house together and wrap the open space around it and preserve that open space. That isn’t what this is. This is why the applicant is seeking a waiver for depth to width ratio. Even though there is a special exception to use the property for a major cluster subdivision, it doesn’t fit the regulations. If they look at the June 21 letter she explained the lot sizes are too long and narrow. Attorney Manzelli said that the depth to width ratio waiver is being submitted because their plan doesn’t fit with the regulations. Glenn said if they were proposing what she believes to be a traditional cluster subdivision, they would also need to get that waiver. He added that his questions are, in fact, meant to gather information, as she noted earlier.


Attorney Manzellli said she didn’t agree. In a traditional cluster development, lots will be square and small, not rectangular strip lots. She doesn’t think they’d need the waiver for depth to width ratio. Glenn said if they were to make the lots smaller but everything else would be the same, that would answer the question? Attorney Manzelli said it would make the plan much more like a cluster subdivision. Amy showed on the map what she felt would comply with the houses in a bunch and the common area behind. Glenn said they have a cluster ordinance and they have an obligation to follow it. They need to know what they contend that the application is contrary to their ordinance. They don’t have the ability to make judgement calls.


Attorney Manzelli said the existing features and characters need to be accounted for in the plans. There isn’t any information in the package for identification of such features and/or how they are being preserved. She said the Town has the ability to hire 3rd party peer reviewers if they don’t have time, expertise or the ability to review these plans or they feel they need someone who is neutral to review these ideas. Chair Wells said they have discussed this with their town counsel and he, himself, is also a town planner. He understands the process. Glenn said the board can’t plan; hiring a planning commission isn’t going to help them. Chair Wells said there is nothing in their ordinance that says that the lots have to be a certain way. There are lots of clusters that don’t do that across the country. Attorney Manzelli said the Planning Board can say that the depth to width ratio is required and is not met. They can also say that Sutton laws require identification of the features that hasn’t been done. They also require bike and access/pedestrian requirements that the applicant hasn’t provided.


Attorney Manzelli said contrary to what she heard earlier in the meeting, the size of the houses is the purview of the board. One example is because of storm water. The applicant hasn’t provided stormwater plans and the amount of impervious surface will have a significant bearing on what the drainage looks like. The size of the houses affects the amount of impervious surfaces. Chair Wells said he understood and agreed. He said it is important that in a preliminary review they get into design, generally but not into detailed design. They may request an escrow fund to be set up and hire and engineer to review drainage, etc. That isn’t what they are looking at that evening. They need to look at what they are allowed to do not what they want to do.


Attorney Manzelli said later on she would encourage the board to hire a 3rd party wetlands scientist. Chair Wells said they do this with every subdivision.


Attorney Manzelli said that she would encourage the board to require the 25’ perimeter buffer to be widened. Logging would be a reason if the 25’ could not be used for the access purpose also. She put in some commentary about the covenants as well. The covenants need a lot of work and should be one set that covers everything including the owner’s right to use and benefit the public space, for example. Chair Wells said town counsel will review all of these things.


Glenn asked what the town’s authority was to require more than a 25’ buffer. Chair Wells said that 25’ is the minimum requirement. The purpose of rules and regulations is to establish minimums. That is how this works. If they have a desire to persuade an applicant to do more they will, but he agrees with Glenn that if they were asking for a 15’ buffer they’d have a problem.


Attorney Manzelli said she knew of a statute to add a condition of approval. She said she would follow up with the RSA references.


Attorney Manzelli said there are other waivers requested and they don’t provide any justification that Sutton law requires. Chair Wells hoped it was clear that they would be looking at things closely, as that is what they are tasked to do.


Bette Fredrickson lies at 181 Eaton Grange Road. She has lived there for 50 years and has been with Sutton Rescue for 30 of them.  She has an idea about driveway lengths and she is very concerned with fire and EMS being able to get into those driveways. Bette said she was interested that the gentlemen called it a subdivision. Her feeling is that it is a close subdivision, not a cluster. She said the chair of the Zoning Board said to just pass it and let the Planning Board figure out the details. Everyone on their road as well as East Sutton Road signed a petition because it didn’t seem to be harmonious to their neighborhood. This would be contrary to what the Planning Board wrote in their 2020 town report, which dealt with the harmonious and rural atmosphere of the area.


Chair Wells asked where Bette would suggest putting a cluster subdivision since they are permitted. Bette said she would have no problem if it wasn’t seven houses. Chair Wells said that the applicant meets all the regulations for a cluster subdivision on that property. Glenn said they have ideals and they hope that Sutton will make some zoning changes. Right now they can’t make arbitrary decisions, as was true with the Zoning Board of Adjustment. That board didn’t just say “let’s do it.” They considered everything and did their job to follow the rules that they were handed. Their job is to follow the zoning ordinances which have all been adopted by the town at town meeting.


Bette didn’t think that putting seven large houses on 10 acres of land agreed with the theme of the town report. Glenn said the theme isn’t the zoning ordinance. Chair Wells said the Planning Board is now developing a master plan with recommendations on where changes should be made. They need to hear from the public to know what they want. In the meantime, an applicant has the right to do what the rules allow. Typically, along all their roads is a swath of land that is residential. The land behind that area is zoned residential agricultural and are at least 2 acres in size. There are uses that can’t be done. The entire town is zoned 2 acres. If they want it to be rural, some bigger lots might be wanted.


Peter said that the Planning Board knows that there are issues with the cluster zoning ordinance they have. It isn’t something that can be corrected at will but has to be subject to voting at town meeting. People need to come to grips of what the potential appearance of the town is if they follow the ordinance the way it is. When a proposal comes before them to improve a portion of the regulations, it behooves them to provide input and learn about it. Then the Planning Board will have more authority than they do right now.


Gary Walkins, 62 East Sutton Road said he hasn’t lived here long and they moved to Sutton recently. The proposed driveway cuts through a stone wall and headlights will lead directly into his bedroom living space. It isn’t something they’d look forward to in the winters. He thought that these kinds of small details may be overlooked. This has a direct impact of his quiet enjoyment of his property going forward.


Dane said he didn’t know if the Town had control to move the road. He felt this would be a good neighborly thing for the applicants to consider. Chair Wells said that this is something that now the applicant knows about and if he wants to do a neighborly thing and move the driveway, that is how it would be moved. The Planning Board has to consider where the roads meet to make sure it isn’t an accident-prone spot.


Christine Fletcher said she read that the stonewalls and features have to be taken into consideration. What does that mean? Chair Wells said the applicant has to determine that if a wall has to be disturbed can it be done minimally? Can they avoid the stone wall? They would like to hear back to know how the applicant will try and preserve these ancient walls.


Chair Wells closed the public hearing and asked for a motion to adjourn.


It was moved by Glenn Pogust and seconded by Christine Fletcher to adjourn.


Glenn withdrew his motion to adjourn because the applicant wanted to make some further remarks.


Arthur asked if what they had discussed that evening would be all they needed to address for the next time. Peter said they need to address temporary storage sites, where material would be stored on site and how long. The Town will be establishing an escrow account for a wetlands scientist and overseeing the building of the road. There are some specific design requirements relating to stabilization of soils, etc. The Town is going to hold the applicant’s feet to the fire. It would be useful to indicate how they will preserve some of the features like stone walls, but how they may be finished off that is reasonably attractive and meets the general goal of the ordinance. They definitely will be required to produce drainage calculations for adequate sizing for pipes, which are inadequate at this point. They will need a level spreader on one of the drainage outflows by the wetland. They will have to improve a lot of things and he will convey some things to the applicant in private, but the board will want all these details, as well as an electrical plan. Chair Wells said he suggested they will need detention ponds. He also suggested that the stone wall could be moved along a property line; it is this kind of creative community spirit they are looking for. Planting some screening, for example, to prevent headlights shining into windows, is something they could choose to do however, not something the Town can require.


It was moved by Glenn Pogust and seconded by Christine Fletcher to adjourn.

The motion was approved unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 8:40pm.


Respectfully submitted,


Kristy Heath, Recording Secretary

Town of Sutton