Pillsbury Memorial Hall

93 Main Street

Sutton Mills, NH 03221


 Meeting Minutes for Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.


Call to Order: Acting Chair Betsy Forsham called the 4/21/21 meeting of the Sutton Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting to order at 7:00pm and called the roll.


Roll Call: Present were Betsy Forsham (acting Chair), Joe Eisenberg (Alternate) sitting in for Zachary Brock, Samantha Gordon (Member), Marc Beauchemin (Alternate) sitting in for Derek Lick, Katy Beauchemin (Member).


Also present were: Peter Stanley (Planning and Zoning Administrator), Joe Driscoll (Town Counsel).  Applicants, abutters and members of the public included: Art Siciliano (agent for the applicant), Gary Fitzgerald, dba Peacock Hill Road LLC (applicant), Danielle Thomas, Ira Thomas, Jeff Evans, wetland scientist hired by the Thomas’s, Bob De Felice, Dan Muller (Attorney for the applicant), Victor Del Vecchio, Tim Mackay, Barbara Hoffman, Allen Finn, Derek Lick, Lynn Whittman, Jim Barthelemy, Beth Fredrickson, Zachary Brock, plus two NH area code phone numbers that did not ask to be recognized or speak.


Continued Public Hearing:

Case #2021-03 – a request by Peacock Hill Road LLC, 149 Old Town Road, Weare, NH 03281 for a Special Exception, as permitted by the terms of Article IX, B, 1 of the Sutton Zoning and Building Ordinance, to permit the development of a 7 lot Cluster Subdivision on Map/Lot 01-173-097, a 98.2acre parcel of land on the West Side of East Sutton Road.


Acting Chair Forsham opened the continued public hearing and asked Art Siciliano to give an overview of the revised plans submitted for the meeting, titled Proposed Cluster Development Subdivision of Tax Lot 1, 173, 097, Dated April 2021.


Mr. Siciliano said that the wetlands on the back area of the lot were delineated and verified, steep slopes highlighted, and the total of wetland/steep slope areas calculated, which represents approximately 47% of the total common land, which is under the 50% maximum. All lots are now accessed from the internal road in the development, with a single shared driveway to Lots 5 & 6. Approximate house sites are now shown on the plan and staked in the field as well. In addition, the wetlands scientists stamped and signed the plan as well as providing a letter in response to concerns raised about a potential wetlands along the southerly property line against property of abutter Nixon (no jurisdictional wetlands were found).  Mr. Siciliano noted that the total acreage of the lot is 101.81 acres, an increase from what was previously shown.


Acting Chair Forsham then asked if the Board Members had any questions, and the consensus was that the developer had provided the information that was requested by the Board at the March 17 meeting.


Acting Chair Forsham then asked for questions or comments from the abutters and/or the public and then recognized Danielle Thomas who began her presentation, representing 58 concerned citizens of East Sutton (signatures available). The 3/17/21 meeting presentation was recapped, and she noted that a previous proposed East Sutton Cluster development was rejected.  She then opined that the 5 special exception criteria were not proved, wetlands delineations were not reviewed by the Sutton wetlands scientist, that the historic cemetery must be protected, the yield plan was not in compliance with town regulations, that the entire East Sutton community is against the cluster and expressed concern for the impact on the existing values and charm of the community. The new presentation began with issues regarding visual delineation of wetlands and then went into a point-by-point review of the 5 criteria necessary for approval of a Special Exception, opining that the applicant has failed to do so for all criteria – details spelled out in the presentation are available as an attachment to the minutes. This continued throughout the presentation, including opinions from realty companies, citings from NH Supreme court cases, photos, legal definitions, etc.


The presentation went on to question the adequacy of the land to support the necessary septic facilities since test pits had not yet been done and cited an example of facilities not being built to plan in a development by the same developer down the road in Warner.


The presentation then went on to question the validity of the yield plan because of failure to set the road back far enough from the cemetery, setback issues, road configuration, etc. NHSC case Auger v. Town of Stratford was cited as an example of having insufficient data for the Board to make a decision regarding the yield plan.


The presentation went on to say that the proposed development is not in the spirit of the ordinance because it does not promote efficient use of land, does not enhance privacy for residents, will not be harmonious with the rest of the neighborhood, etc. Photographic examples of other cluster subdivisions were shown to contrast with what is proposed. The presentation concluded urging the Board not to approve the special exception. Again, the presentation will be available for review as part of the record.


Jeff Evans was then recognized and criticized the fact that data sheets were not provided as part of the wetlands delineation, opining that the wetland delineations were done visually in the winter only, when much of the vegetation cannot be seen under the snow.


Danielle Thomas said that wetlands should be delineated from May through October when vegetation is visible.


Joe Driscoll (Town Counsel) advised that, while there are several issues over which the Board has control, the key issues to focus on were those relating to lot size and road frontage.


Beth Fredrickson expressed her concerns about road safety for people who walk in the neighborhood, as well as the fact that she rides her horse in the road. Two other people expressed similar concerns.


Dan Muller (Counsel for the developer) also opined that the key issues remain lot size and frontage.


Ira Thomas expressed concern about the Town trusting the developer to limit the cutting of trees and not take the neighbor’s concerns into account, and concern that the developer would not stay out of the wetlands.


Zachary Brock stated that he was concerned about drainage and storm water runoff from the development, especially along the road and for downstream properties. He also expressed concern about traffic safety.


There being no further questions or comments from the public, Acting Chair Forsham closed the public comment portion of the hearing, thanked everyone for their interest and went to Board deliberation at approximately 8:30pm.


The five criteria for a Special Exception, Article VI.A.2.a, were reviewed as follows:


  1. “The site is an appropriate location for the use or structure.”


All five Board members opined that nature of the site was appropriate for the Cluster Subdivision as presented.


  1. “The use will not be detrimental, injurious, noxious or offensive to the neighborhood.”


Joe did not think the Cluster would be detrimental.


Marc offered that in his opinion, a cluster subdivision provided more protections by virtue of the buffer strip and other limitations than any sort of conventional subdivision.


Katy said the boundaries between the new and existing properties would not be detrimental. Sam agreed. A long road would have more clear cut required. The buffer area of vegetation makes the cluster development more attractive compared with the old plan.

Chair Forsham said having houses on an undeveloped property will be a change but if others don’t want it developed, they would need to purchase the property. The yield plan seems to be less offensive or noxious to the neighborhood.

  1. “There will be no undue nuisance or serious hazard to vehicular or pedestrian traffic.”

Katy said in comparison to the yield plan, the difference is the hammerhead vs. the circular driveway. For emergency vehicles the round driveway may be safer. This was the only place she could see a potential hazard.

Joe Eisenberg said that he thought the Planning Board would be the board to decide which form of driveway was the safest. Chair Forsham agreed and said a traffic study may also be done per request of the Planning Board.

Mr. Driscoll said that all of these things would need to be addressed by the Planning Board.

Marc said barring the emergency vehicle argument, he thought the criteria was satisfied.

Sam said the abutter’s presentation showed that there is already some nuisance on the road. This will be true regardless. She feels that the criteria is met based on the information they have.

Land Use Coordinator Stanley said that the Planning Board deliberations may result in setting the hours of operation for construction, and require that no parking be allowed on East Sutton Road. He opined that the Planning Board has some homework to do before this applicant sees them.

Chair Forsham said the abutters are within rights to make sure that the construction vehicles and activities have flagging and traffic control especially at the blind corner. She agreed that the criteria had been met. She would like the applicant to be cognizant of the impact they are making on the neighborhood.

  1. “Adequate and appropriate facilities are provided to ensure the proper operation of the proposed use or structure.”

Sam said that as long as the applicant knows what is needed to provide “adequate and appropriate facilities”, she was under the belief that the criteria was met. A wetlands delineation and traffic study should be a condition that should be met. Mr. Driscoll said that a declaration document could be requested which would dictate the treatment of the area, common land, the road, etc.

Joe Eisenberg asked about the ownership of the land. Is it going to be a homeowner’s association? Mr. Driscoll said he thought it would be owned by the homeowners. Peter said that the Planning Board will decide who pays for everything (maintenance of the road, snow plowing, etc.).

Marc wondered if they could say something about where driveways need to be located. Chair Forsham said that the plan specifications may need to be shifted once work begins due to the land. Marc said he believes the criteria is satisfied due to the fact that final approval of the cluster development rests with the Planning Board.

Katy said she agreed that the criteria was met because the Planning Board would be determining the logistics of the facilities.

  1. The proposed use or structure is consistent with the spirit of this ordinance.”

Sam said that the yield plan maintains the secluded personality of the community and other areas of town.

Joe Eisenberg agreed with what Sam said. It fits the ordinance.

Marc said he would strongly urge the Planning Board to heavily scrutinize this and make sure it is carried out the way it should be. He feels it is consistent with the spirit of the ordinance.

Katy agreed with Marc. She added that in order to insure that privacy is maintained, they have the 25’ area and the border around the cemetery. She suggested having a discussion about conditions.

Chair Forsham said that, while she doesn’t see this as a cluster and she sympathizes with abutters’ concerns on certain points, she understands that the Board has to go by their ordinance. She agreed with the rest of the Board; in the confines of what they are charged to do and their ordinance, the criteria is met.

Chair Forsham said they should talk about conditions before voting. Joe Eisenberg suggested that any changes at all with the plan should be brought to the board. Sam said she trusted that the Planning Board has a lot of criteria and requirements the applicants will have to meet. The Zoning Board’s only jurisdiction is lot size, road frontage and the spirit of the ordinance. She doesn’t want the applicant to have to come back to the ZBA every time there is a slight change. Joe Eisenberg said that they may not need to come before the board, but the board should be notified.

Peter said once the ZBA has voted on this, it goes to the Planning Board. If there are things that need to be tweaked, they have to make it work. If the Planning Board feels that what is being done is no longer what was approved, the applicant may need to go back to the Zoning Board. They would also need to go back to the ZBA if there is an appeal of the decision. Otherwise, it is in the Planning Board’s realm to deal with any changes.  Joe Driscoll said he disagreed especially if there was a condition added to the motion. The purview of the Zoning Board is lot size and frontage. If it goes from 7 to 10 lots or there is a problem with DOT approval, sizes of lots and frontages change, they will need to see the applicant again. Peter said he agreed with Mr. Driscoll. But tweaking where a driveway goes or the lot size are the purview of the Planning Board, not the ZBA. It was thought that a condition would be for lot size and frontage. Discussion was had about calculations or how much change could be allowed before having to come back before the ZBA. Sam liked a 10% change or less to be deemed appropriate without coming back to the ZBA. Others agreed. Mr. Driscoll said that a condition of approval could be that the resultant lot size and frontage be within 10% of what was indicated on the plan presented tonight (dated April 2021).

The Board discussed, with much back and forth, conditions that should be added to the motion. Advice was provided by Joe Driscoll.

There was discussion of the vegetative screen or buffer. Peter said the point of the buffer is to prohibit them driving their excavator through it, dragging lots through it, etc.


It was moved by Joe Eisenberg and seconded by Sam Gordon to approve the special exception subject to the following conditions:

  1. Lot size and road frontage shall remain within 10% of the dimensions shown on the plan presented to the ZBA on April 21, 2021 (dated April 2021);
  2. The project will meet all State, Local and Federal requirements;
  3. The Yield plan will be redone to show adequate setbacks from the East Sutton Cemetery and to confirm that seven (7) potential lots are possible;
  4. A third-party wetland scientist will review and verify the wetlands delineation as shown on the current plan (dated April 2021);
  5. There will be no disturbance in the 25 foot buffer zone.


A roll call vote was made:
Joe: Yes, Katy, Yes, Marc: Yes, Sam: Yes, Betsy: Yes.

The motion passed unanimously.

Chair Forsham noted that there is an appeal process of this decision, the procedures for which can be found in RSA Chapter 677.

Chair Forsham said that the hearing for #2021-03 was now closed. She asked for a five minute break.

The meeting reconvened, and Chair Forsham explained the next case.

Case #2021-04 – a request by the Kezar Lake Protective Association, represented by Lynn Whittman, for a Variance to the terms of Article IV, C, 4 of the Sutton Zoning and Building Ordinance to permit a sign to have less than the required 55’ setback from the centerline of Wadleigh Hill Road, and to request a Special Exception, as allowed by Article III, D, 2 of the Ordinance, to permit the same sign to be 6 square feet in area, as opposed to the required 3 square foot limit.


Lynn Whittman said this is the 50th year of the KLPA and last summer they talked about what could be done this year to celebrate the milestone. They would like to put up a sign. The sign placement and wording was shown; they would like it placed across from the boat ramp, which is property owned by the KLPA. They would like it to be set a little closer to the road so people wouldn’t have to go far into the property to see it, and the size is larger than the regulations allow. She feels it will improve the area and be a nice addition to what is there.

Chair Forsham asked if the bulletin board near where the lake hosts sit is on conservation land. Lynn said it was and is shared with the Conservation Commission. Vic DelVecchio explained that the bulletin board will have rotating information about the area and notices about cleaning up after one’s dogs, etc.  The goal of this new sign is to educate people about the lake and give some history and information.

Chair Forsham said she measured how far from the road the sign is planned. She found it to be about 50’ from the middle of the road and the regulation is 55’. She said that the front of the sign seems to be in line with the bulletin board. She asked if there were any public comments.

Bob DeFelice said he is not opposed to a sign and has no problem with it. The North Sutton Improvement Society (NSIS), of which he is a part, does have a problem with the placement of the sign. They have an easement on the property, and he had provided this information to the town. The easement says that a sign cannot be placed on the property as it is considered a structure. Chair Forsham said that this was an issue between the NSIS and the KLPA.

Vic said that the easement is private and he wasn’t sure that the sign falls within the structure prohibition. The KLPA was granted ownership of the property. They need to see who and what is prohibited. The NSIS cannot build a structure on the property or a building, parking lot or a fence. It didn’t necessarily bar KLPA from doing those things. They have been good neighbors (KLPA and NSIS), and the NSIS maintains the property. He doesn’t share the concern about who is barred by the easement but feels it is a private matter.

Chair Forsham said the Zoning Board only has to decide if the request meets the criteria; the easement matter is private and they can decide what to do amongst themselves.

Jean LaChance asked if the KLPA and NSIS have to decide this or does the town. Chair Forsham said the town will decide if they can get a variance from the setback from the road and a special exception for the size of the sign. The two organizations have to decide what to do with the easement as it has nothing to do with the town.

Bob DeFelice said he is more than willing to talk to the NCIC at their summer meeting about having the sign closer to the road and on the property. The variance they are going for is going to change if he does this as the setback will be greater.

The public portion of the meeting was closed.

Chair Forsham reviewed the Variance Criteria:

1) The Variance will not be contrary to the public interest.

Katy agreed. Marc agreed. Joe Eisenberg agreed. Sam agreed. Chair Forsham agreed.

2) The spirit of the ordinance is observed.

Sam didn’t think the four feet was a hardship to the town.

Katy said she didn’t think having it closer to the center of the road would be dangerous in any way.

Marc thought a house or a barn would be one thing; a six-foot square sign is another. Chair Forsham agreed.

Chair Forsham said that a variance is meant to help with a hardship. She wasn’t sure the four feet would make that big a difference.

Peter said that the road is a three rod road, but the pavement is narrower than that.

Marc said the spirit or the ordinance is to maintain the nice nature of the town. If the sign was in a weird location, it wouldn’t meet the criteria. The sign is for the townspeople.

Joe Eisenberg agreed with Marc.

Chair Forsham agreed that the criteria had been met here.

3) Substantial justice is done.

Chair Forsham said this ties in to what Marc said about this sign being for the good of the town and the people. The others on the board agreed with this sentiment.

4) The values of the surrounding properties are not diminished.

Chair Forsham said they already have the playground and bulletin board in that area. The sign is nice-looking and informative. The board agreed with this.

5) Literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship.

Sam said the proposed use is a reasonable one. She doesn’t think that adhering to the ordinance results in a hardship, but it is a reasonable proposed use. Katy agreed with Sam. Peter offered that a hardship that should be considered is the fact that the sign has small lettering and if it is placed further back from the proposed site, it will be harder for people to read it. Chair Forsham agreed with this thinking.

Katy said that the location is important; the boundaries are small and putting it as close to the pedestrian walkway as possible is important. Joe Eisenberg, Marc and Sam all agreed with this.

It appeared that the five criteria were met.

It was moved by Joe Eisenberg and seconded by Katy Beauchemin to approve the request to diminish the setback from 55 feet to 50 feet from the center of the road.

Sam asked if this meant the KLPA had permission to set up the sign within the setback. What about the easement issue?  Chair Forsham said this is a private matter between the two entities.

A roll call vote was taken:

Joe: Yes, Sam: Yes, Marc: Yes, Katy: Yes, Betsy: Yes

The motion was approved unanimously.


Special Exception

This special exception is for the size of the sign. This is a 2×3 square foot sign as opposed to the 1×3 square foot sign allowed for in the ordinance.

Chair Forsham said that the information on the sign would likely not fit well on the size of sign as allowed for in the ordinance.

The Board reviewed the five criteria for a special exception:

1) The sign is in an appropriate location for the use or structure.

Everyone agreed.

2) The use will not be detrimental, injurious, noxious or offensive to the neighborhood.

Everyone agreed.

3) There will be no undue nuisance or serious hazard to vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

Everyone agreed.

4) Adequate or appropriate facilities are provided to ensure the proper operation of the proposed use or structure.

Everyone agreed.

5) The proposed use or structure is consistent with the spirit of this ordinance.

Everyone agreed.

It was moved by Sam Gordon and seconded by Joe Eisenberg that the request for a special exception from article 3 D:2 to allow a six square foot sign rather than the permitted 3 foo square be approved.

A roll call vote was taken:

Joe: Yes, Sam: Yes, Marc: Yes, Katy: Yes, Betsy: Yes

The motion was approved unanimously.

Chair Forsham reminded Lynn that there was a 30-day appeal period of this decision. She cautioned against putting anything up until the issues with the NSIS have been resolved.


Meeting Minutes: Wednesday March 17, 2021 Regular Meeting & Public Hearing

Sam said page 3, second paragraph: missing the word “dollars” after half a million and before “homes.”


It was moved (Joe Eisenberg) and seconded (Sam Gordon) to accept the minutes of March 17, 2021 as amended. The motion passed unanimously.


New Business:  None

Old Business:  None Scheduled

Administrative: None

Adjournment: It was moved (Katy Beauchemin) and seconded (Joe Eisenberg) to adjourn the meeting.  The motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at 11:00pm.


Respectfully submitted,

Kristy Heath, Recording Secretary

Town of Sutton