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


August 21, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

CALL TO ORDER:   In the absence of Derek Lick, Chair, Betsy Forsham sat in as acting Chair. She called the meeting to order at 7:00pm. Roll was called. Zachary Brock, alternate, was asked to sit in for Derek Lick.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Samantha Gordon, Betsy Forsham, Katy Schneider, Mark Beauchemin, Zach Brock

MEMBERS ABSENT: Derek Lick, Joe Eisenberg

Chair Forsham called the meeting to order at 7:02pm.

Public Hearing: Case #2019-05, to hear a request from Douglas Dean of the Trinity Bible Church for a variance to the terms of Article X, Table D.1 of the Sutton Zoning and Building Ordinance, for the purpose of allowing an addition to the existing structure with less than the required setback from a wetland (55’ instead of the requisite 75’), in a residential district along Rt 114.

Chair Forsham opened the public hearing portion of the meeting. It was noted that all fees had been paid and the meeting had been properly noticed.

Doug Dean was at the meeting to represent Trinity Bible Church.  Pastor Dean said he is a Senior pastor at Trinity Bible Church and was part of the process of envisioning the expansion about 20 years ago. Chris Hernick was introduced by Pastor Dean. Mr. Hernick is on the building committee and is an engineer from New London.

Pastor Dean noted that10-12 years ago they decided they needed to add more space to the church. This was due to growing attendance by younger families with kids (causing a need for classrooms) and they also started a food pantry that took up space that had once been a storage closet.  After careful thinking they proposed an expansion with three classrooms and some storage space. Due to the location of the current entrance of the food pantry, there is little sun and so the walk is always icy in the winter. They wish to create a new entrance that has easterly sun to melt the ice.  They came up with a site plan which engineer, Peter Blakeman assisted with. In 2012 the church went before the Planning Board with their site plan, however they did not get a building permit for the entire project at that time. Their plans were approved by the Planning Board. The following year the town voted to increase the setback from wetlands from 50’ to 75’. By the time they had funds enough to begin the addition, the setback had changed. They were only 55’ from the wetlands and the regulations require 75’. They are seeking a variance.

Chris Hernick said the footprint of the expansion is about 630 square feet and has two stories. Although it does not meet the setback, it will still be further from the wetlands than the current building is, by 3’.

Chair Forsham read from the building permit regulations which notes that “construction must be commenced within 6 months of getting the permit….and any change in the zoning during that time shall terminate the effectiveness of the permit unless substantial construction has been commenced.”  In this case, substantial construction has commenced. However, the addition was not included in the actual building permit so is exempt from this regulation.

Samantha asked if any consultants had been hired to look at the wetland (stream) to give their opinion on the impact. Mr. Herick said they had not hired any consultants.  Chair Forsham showed a photo of the area and noted there was already quite a bit of disturbance there. She didn’t see that the expansion would interfere with the wetlands. There is a large grassy fire lane in the area.

Katy asked why the wetland setback had been changed in 2014.  Chair Forsham said the science shows the wetlands need to be protected more earnestly and the State had made these suggested changes in the regulations.

Katy said that considering that the area is already disturbed, she didn’t think there was an issue. Chair Forsham agreed and noted that they would need to get a building permit still.

Samantha asked what had happened so far per the site plan? Mr. Hernick said drainage improvements and parking upgrades had been completed.  

Chair Forsham said that no remarks had come in via writing or email from abutters.

Chair Forsham closed the public hearing and the members of the Zoning Board would now enter into deliberation.

To grant a variance, the five criteria must be met.  The criteria were met considering the following responses:

  1. The variance will not be contrary to the public interest

Adding classroom space is consistent with the existing use of the property and mission of the church. The scale of the addition is minor compared to the existing structure and is designed to integrate well into the existing structure. The addition is expected to have no negative impacts for the public at large. Conversely, adding classroom space to the church increases the capacity and effectiveness of teaching programs which benefit the public. The additional classroom space, and opportunities it provides, directly contribute to the Town’s Zoning Ordinance goals of health, safety and welfare.

Katy agreed with the applicant. The changes consider the safety of entry and exit, and access to the food pantry. She doesn’t see how this would hurt the public interest.

Mark agreed with Katy

Samantha agreed with Katy. Storage space is needed and this would make things more safe.

Zachary agreed with all that was said.

  • The spirit of the ordinance is observed

The proposed addition does not propose direct impacts to the wetland and is located approximately 55′ from the wetland boundary, preserving a significant buffer to the wetland. While not quantitatively meeting the setback in zoning ordinance table D-1, maintaining a buffer is consistent with the intent of the zoning ordinance to provide sediment collection, control erosion, filter pollutants, provide flood control and protect habitat. Additionally, the proposed location of the addition is several feet farther from the wetland boundary than the existing building.

The addition is designed in a previously disturbed area, and proposes no additional impacts to undisturbed areas within the wetland overlay district. As such, Trinity Bible Church believes the proposed addition is in keeping with the intent of the wetland overlay district.

Katy and Mark were OK with this. Mark said given that this expansion is so small compared with other buildings, and that it is surrounded by a large grassy area, he was fine with it. Samantha didn’t think this expansion would affect the habitat in the area. Zach agreed with the others.

  • Substantial justice is done

Given that the proposed addition is located in a previously disturbed area of the wetland setback, Trinity Bible Church expects that the loss suffered by the public by the construction of addition will be minimal. For the ministries of the church, the additional classroom and storage space presents significant gained utility.

The members of the Zoning Board of Appeals agreed.

  • The values of surrounding properties are not diminished

Please see the enclosed statement in which Josh Lizotte, a local real estate professional, expresses his belief that the proposed addition will not cause negative impacts to surrounding property values. If it would be helpful, Mr. Lizotte would be happy to meet with the board to review any concerns you may have.

Katy said the letter from Mr. Lizotte provided good information. Mark said the photos helped. Samantha and Zach agreed with the information from Josh Lizotte.

  • Literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship
  • No fair and substantial relationship exists between the general public purposes of the ordinance provision and the specific application of that provision to the property; and

The property in question is locally unique as a relatively large parcel with an existing building and parking lot well suited to use as a church. No similar properties exist in the South Sutton area.

  • The proposed use is a reasonable one

Trinity Bible Church has been planning to add classroom space for the last decade, and presented a plan showing the

proposed addition to the town in 2012. The Planning Board approved plans to modify the church’s parking facilities, build the addition in question, and improve site stormwater drainage. Construction of the parking lot and drainage modifications were completed in 2014. Mr. Stanley, Land Use Coordinator, confirms that the 2012 site plan approval is still valid.

When the addition location was presented to the town in 2012 it was consistent with zoning ordinance. At the 2013 meeting, Sutton voters approved the amendment to the zoning ordinance, increasing the wetland setback to the current 75′.

The proposed addition, located on the north side of the building, makes the best use of the internal hallway layout of the

existing building, and allows for a new entrance for patron of the church’s food pantry.

Locating the addition on the north of the building will allow for a smaller, less imposing overall footprint of the addition than if the same amount of classroom space were located in areas strictly meeting the wetland setback requirement. The north­side location also allows the new construction to visually flow into the existing building.

Samantha said literal enforcement will result in hardship. There is no other way to do an addition reasonably in any other place. If they added on to the front of the building it would destroy the things that have already been upgraded. Zach agreed and said the addition looks great. It was noted that Zach is an architect.

IT WAS MOVED (Katy Schneider) AND SECONDED (Samantha Gordon) to grant the variance as requested based on the answers of the criteria provided by the applicants. THE MOTION WAS APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.

Chair Forsham said they now need to get a building permit. Within 30 days of the approval if someone decides the town has made an error, they can come back and ask for a rehearing. She didn’t believe the chances of that were great.

Review of Minutes

There were no changes.

IT WAS MOVED (Mark Beauchemin) AND SECONDED (Katy Schneider) to approve the minutes of July 17, 2019. THE MOTION WAS APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY.

Chair Forsham said that the deadline for new applications to be heard in September was August 15th. There being no applications submitted, it appears there will be no September meeting of the Zoning Board.

With no other business, Chair Forsham asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting.

IT WAS MOVED (Samantha Gordon) AND SECONDED (Zach Brock) to adjourn.


The meeting adjourned at 7:36pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristy Heath, Recording Secretary

Town of Sutton �(b