Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes

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

Board of Selectman

December 11, 2017 @ 4:00 p.m.


The meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m. by Robert Wright, Jr., Chair.  Present at the meeting was Robert Wright Jr., Chair; William I. Curless, Selectman; Dane Headley, Selectman; Stephen Bagley, Road Agent, Ed Canane, Deborah Lang, Roger Wells, Fran Esposito, Sue Esposito and Elly Phillips, Town Administrator




At 4:30 p.m. the Board met with Ed Canane regarding a citizen request for the Selectmen to appeal a ZBA Decision.    Mr. Wright opened the discussion regarding a request by Mr. Canane to have the Selectmen appeal the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s November 15, 2017 decision which approved a 2.5’ setback variance from the road for Deborah Lang for the purpose of constructing a 28’X 36’ garage on property located at Sutton Tax Map 02-478-356 (residential district).


Selectman Headley recused himself from the matter due to his previous association with the Zoning Board of Adjustment as a member and because he participated in the Zoning Board decision specific to this case.


Mr. Canane submitted into the record:

A letter outlining his citizen request for appeal

Application from Debra Lane requesting a variance

Minutes from the Zoning Board of Adjustment’s November 15, 2017 meeting

Notice of Decision from the November 15, 2017 Zoning Baord meeting.

The above referenced documents will be attached to these minutes.


Selectman Wright referenced RSA 677:2 and 677:3 regarding rehearing procedures.  Selectman Wright called upon Mr. Canane.


Mr. Canane advised that the minutes were not published until November 27, 2017.  Therefore, in his opinion the the30-day appeal period would begin on November 28, 2017.  Mr. Canane felt the Board of Selectmen were the most appropriate body to appeal the decision.  Mr. Canane indicated that it took him some time to gather the materials (obtain them from the Town) that he needed to support his request for an appeal.


Mr. Canane referred to his letter in which he opined that the appeal granted did not meet the statutory criteria for a variance.   He felt that by granting the variance another known non-conforming lot was being created by the Town.


As a point of clarification, Phillips asked whether it would be a non-conforming lot or a non-conforming structure?  Mr. Canane indicated that according to his Counsel that was a debatable issue.  Mr. Canane stated that non-conforming lots were a significant issue for all significant landowners in Town, adding that he was a significant landowner.


Mr. Canane noted that the variance is for a yet to be constructed structure on a lot that does not yet exist.  The location of the proposed structure is at the widest possible spot and that the proposed lot has two buildable acres.  Mr. Canane opined if that were true there would not be a need for a variance.  Mr. Canane felt that the granting of the variance sets the stage for the subdivision. Mr. Canane advised that he was at the Planning Board meeting where the applicant was advised to go to the Zoning Board to obtain a variance prior to subdivision.


Mr. Canane added that once the lot is created then it is a conforming lot which could allow for any owner current or subsequent to erect single family housing, because otherwise it would be an unreasonable use of the lot.


Mr. Canane indicated that from reviewing the minutes from the meeting — he could not understand what the five questions were for the variance and that he had brought this to the attention of the Land Use Coordinator.


Mr. Canane referenced his letter to the Board of Selectmen dated December 11, 2017 and read into the record the following:


  1. The applicant states on the variance application “the proposed variance would allow for a neat and tidy garage for seasonal and year round storage.” I would agree with that statement, however, that does not address the test question. I believe it is indeed contrary to the public interest to knowingly grant a variance for a zoning violation, to a lot that does not exist, for a building that does not exist, thus paving the way to the creation of a nonconforming lot”


  1. “Literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship.” The applicant states on the variance application “the size and shape of the lot make compliance of the ordinance impossible”. I believe that reality says it all. The proposed lot cannot even support a garage, let alone a single family home. The hardship stated is not relevant in that the lot does not exist. In addition, a garage that conforms to our ordinance could be built by the applicant and is indeed an option. The smaller structure could build on the existing lot without the need for a variance.


Selectman Wright asked for clarification as to whether if the applicant put down a garage prior to the lot being created would there be an issue?  Mr. Canane clarified that if the structure was placed in conformance to the zoning ordinance it would not be before the Zoning Board, it would just require a building permit.  Mr. Canane said that if the configuration of the lot goes before the Planning Board, Mr. Canane would go before the Planning Board to speak to the matter.


Mr. Canane felt the applicant had alternatives which would be to make a bigger lot noting that the parcel in question is 30.4 acres.  He felt another option would be to do a different subdivision on that parcel.


Selectman Wright asked Ms. Lang if she wished to make a statement.  Ms. Lang indicated that she was present to listen as she has already gone through the zoning process.


Roger Wells asked to submit a statement for the record as a citizen.


Copies of Mr. Wells’ letter (attached herewith) and Mr. Canane’s letter were distributed to those in attendance.


Mr. Wells felt that the Zoning Board’s decision should be upheld.  He felt that in order to appeal the decision you should be a directly aggrieved party. He did not feel that Mr. Canane was an aggrieved party as he lives eight miles away.


Mr. Wells felt that the all five measures for a variance had been met.  Mr. Wells added that he realized that each ZBA decision is based on unique conditions; however, he felt that there have been numerous similar minor encroachments on the road setback that have been granted by the Zoning Board.


Selectman Wright asked whether Mr. Wells felt that it was contrary to the public interest to grant a variance to a lot that does not exist?  Mr. Wells replied that the proposed lot has been described.


Selectman Wright summarized that both parties seemed to indicate that it wasn’t necessarily an issue of the lot.  It was an issue regarding the size of the building.


Selectman Wright asked about unnecessary hardship noting that a smaller garage could be built but that it might not house all the materials that would be needed. Mr. Wells agreed that a smaller building could be built.  Mr. Wells didn’t feel that the proposed structure would harm the public good adding that the whole reason for a variance was to allow for an unusual situation.


Mr. Canane clarified that he was requesting a motion to rehear from the Board of Selectmen not as an aggrieved party.


Mr. Canane felt that the fact that the lot did not yet exist was a big issue.  He wanted to know how often the Zoning Board has granted a variance for a lot that does not exist.


Selectman Curless felt that the Board has received sufficient information and that they should take the matter under advisement.


Mr. Canane added that he will probably demonstrate that he is an aggrieved party but that is not why he was here.  Mr. Canane wondered whether there was a purchase and sales on this property pending subdivision and asked whether he could ask Ms. Lang.  He was advised that this was not a public hearing and Miss Lang stated that she did not wish to speak.   Mr. Canane indicated that he and his wife were likely to enter into a purchase and sales on an abutting property.  He felt if the structure were approved he would offer a lot less or might not even buy it.


Selectman Wright welcomed the comments and expressed appreciation for the helpful information provided.  Due to holiday vacation schedules, the Board (Selectman Curless and Selectman Wright) decided to review the matter in further detail at a meeting on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.


Phillips indicated that she would ask whether an attorney from the Mitchell Group would be able to assist the Board of Selectmen with this case as it is possible that they were already providing advice to the Zoning Board on this matter.  Mr. Canane asked if correspondence between Counsel and the Town was subject to right-to-know. Phillips responded that it depends on the type of correspondence.  Some correspondence was subject to 91-A release and other matters fall under attorney client privilege.


Mr. Canane asked if there was an appeal would Mr. Headley be on the Zoning Board to hear it.  Mr. Canane was advised that Mr. Headley was no longer on the Zoning Board and would not be part of an appeal or rehearing.  He was now on the Board of Selectmen, and further he has recused himself from this matter.


At 5:10 p.m. Selectman Curless made a motion to enter into non-public session under RSA 91-A:3, II (a) Personnel Matter  in order to conduct a Performance Evaluation for Stephen Bagley, Road Agent.  Selectman Headley seconded the motion.  The Board was polled with Selectman Wright, Selectman Curless and Selectman Headley voting in the affirmative.  Public session resumed at 5:31 p.m.  The minutes were not sealed and reflect that a performance evaluation was conducted.


At 5:31 p.m. Fran and Sue Esposito were present to continue the discussion regarding signage on Baker Hill/Chalk Pond Road.  The Board reconsidered a letter that they had received from the residents of Chalk Pond Road dated November 24, 2017, in which the residents thanked them for putting a stop sign on Baker Hill Road but expressed concerns regarding ongoing traffic issues.  The document was signed by 41 individuals.  The Board previously reviewed the letter at their meeting that was conducted on December 4, 2017.  The Board requested input from Jon Korbet, Police Chief and Stephen Bagley, Road Agent.


Chief Korbet submitted a letter recommending that the intersection remains posted as it is.  Chief Korbet further recommended reducing the speed posting from 30 mph to 25 mph on the lower section of Chalk Pond Road in an attempt to slow traffic down.  The Board reviewed the minutes from August 28, 2017, at which time the Board had conducted a public meeting regarding signage at the Baker Hill/ Chalk Pond intersection.


Road Agent Bagley indicated that placing a stop sign on Chalk Pond was a problem because it was the main road.    Mr. Bagley advised that Baker Hill goes onto Chalk Pond.  Mrs. Esposito said the problem was coming down towards town people are flying.  She felt that you could not see oncoming traffic coming off Baker Hill and snow would pose an additional hazard.


Selectman Curless stated the speed limit was 30 mph traveling north on Chalk Pond and 25 mph traveling south on Chalk Pond.  The speed limit on Baker Hill Road is 30 miles.  Selectman Curless said that both the Chief of Police and the Road Agent have indicated that the signage is correct as it is.  However, the Chief was recommending dropping the speed limit to 25 mph on Chalk Pond Road to maintain a consistent speed limit.


Mrs. Esposito didn’t feel that just slowing traffic down would solve the problem.  Selectman Wright was asking whether the request was for stop signs on both Baker Hill and Chalk Pond.  Mrs. Esposito said that the residents on Baker Hill, Chalk Pond and Poor Farm Road would prefer a 3-way stop.


Mr. Bagley stated that the site distance going down Chalk Pond Road was at 600 feet.  When you look down the hill from the stop sign on Baker Hill, you have a site distance of 300 feet.   The stop sign is set back from the main drag about 20 feet.  When you leave the stop sign area you can see down the hill 500 feet.  Mr. Bagley suggested an additional stop sign on the flat might be helpful.   Mr. Bagley discussed the problem of cars not stopping at stop signs.  Selectman Curless felt the problem was drivers going over the posted speed limit.  Selectman Curless felt that reducing the speed limit would be helpful.  Mr. Esposito discussed the problem with speeders on Chalk Pond.  Mr. Esposito asked whether the road could be graded.  Mr. Bagley said that there was ledge there.   Selectman Wright wondered whether there should be another public meeting on this.  Mr. Bagley reiterated that the Police Chief expressed concerns about enforcing a stop sign on a through road.    The Board agreed to revisit the matter at their meeting on December 18, 2017.  The Board will check with Counsel to determine whether or not a public meeting would be recommended in order to reduce the speed limit.



The minutes from December 4, 2017 and non-public minutes from December 5, 2017 were approved as written.




The Board reviewed and approved the following manifests:

PAYROLL MANIFEST:  $  11,292.61

VENDOR MANIFEST:    $876,803.13 (includes County Tax)




The Board approved a building permit for Rodney and JoAnn Sigua, Penacook Road, interior renovations – bathroom.




At 4:10 p.m. Selectman Curless made a motion to enter into non-public session RSA 91-A:3, II (a) Personnel Matter — The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee . Selectman Headley seconded the motion.  The Board was polled with Selectman Wright, Selectman Curless and Selectman Headley voting yes.  Public Session resumed at 4:16.  Selectman Curless made a motion to seal the minutes as a personnel matter.  The motion was seconded by Dane Headley.  The motion passed by a vote of 3-0.


The Board accepted the resignation of Cynthia Stillman, Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector, with regret and will issue correspondence thanking her for her service to the Town.


The Board issued an abatement for Kane/Oyer 08-363-110 — $44.14 for invoice 78298 previously refunded at the request of Linda Ford, Town Clerk/Tax Collector.


The Board issued a Yield Tax :  Carla and Richard Krajewski, 09-100-067 in the amount of $4,675.77




Action was deferred until the next regularly scheduled Selectmen’s Meeting on the following business items:

Letter to Carroll Thompson regarding request for abatement.

Letter to Linda Ford regarding website update.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:59 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Elly Phillips

Town Administrator