Walpole Zoning Board of Adjustment
Minutes: October 15, 2014
Present: Board Members: Chair Myra Mansouri, Vice-Chair Peggy Pschirrer, Clerk Ernie Vose, Jan Galloway Le Clerc, Mary Therese Lester.
Alternates: Stephanie Stoughton, Bob Anderson, Judy Trow.
Recording: Marilou Blaine.
These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the November 19, 2014 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Roll Call: Ms. Mansouri called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Three Alternates were needed to hear Public Hearing No. 1 because Ms. Pschirrrer and Mr. Vose recused themselves and one board member was a couple of minutes late.
Minutes: Ms. Mansouri said she would take discussion of the minutes after the Public Hearing.
Public Hearing No. 1. (cont’d) Expansion of a Non-conforming Use. Conversion of the former American Legion building at 73 Main Street into a business for Costume Ladies. Tax Map No. 20, Lot No. 52 in the Commercial Zoning District. The building is owned by Mr. Ray Boas, Ms. Barbara Kasper and Ms. Lynne Rollins-Kinnier. The business is owned by Ms. Kasper. The application was approved as complete.
Mr. Boas said that there was a Site Plan Review by the Walpole Planning Board the previous evening. The owners’ new plan was approved and the main concern of neighbors – the display window – had changed. There were no abutters at this Public Hearing.
The main points Mr. Boas made were:
There are no changes to the site. The topography and driveway are the same,
The existing lighting of the parking lot, which one neighbor complained was too bright, was reduced by two-thirds.
The porch and steps in the front of the building will be removed making the set back from the highway five (5) more feet. The area will be grass.
The porch and steps take up 72 square feet. The new drawings show that this display area will now be 59 square feet or 14 square feet less. The windows are now roughly knee height to head height.
The lighting in that porch or display area will be on a timer and probably of less intensity than most living rooms in the area and turned off when most people turn off their lights.
The flagpole will be illuminated in accordance with requirements for an illuminated flag.
Ms. Mansouri said she didn’t understand about the time lights would go off. The business closes around 6 or 7 p.m. Is that when the lights will go off? she asked.
Ms. Kaspser said the lights would be on longer, probably to about 9 p.m. – to catch the people traveling by on their way home from work. We want people to know where we are now, she said. The lights will be interior lights and shouldn’t bother people nearby.
Ms. Stoughton questioned the footprint of the building, asking what the size of the display area would be. Mr. Boas repeated that the area had 14 square feet less. He added the display area would be 13¼ feet by 4 feet.
Ms. Stoughton made a motion to accept the proposal for the change to the Non-conforming Use and the new plan as presented. Ms. Trow seconded the motion and the board approved the changes.
Minutes: Mr. Vose pointed out that Judy Trow is an Alternate and was listed as a Board Member. The minutes were approved with that correction.
Gravel Pit Inspection Reports: Everyone turned in the Gravel Pit Inspection Report to which they were assigned. Letters will be sent to the owners.
Comments: Fred Houghton of Chesterfield is in charge of the Cold River pit and gave the commissioners a nice tour, Mr. Vose said.
Ms. Pschirrer and Mr. Anderson noticed a minor concern at the Industrial Park Pit owned by Hodgkins & Sons. Mr. Anderson the embankment was too steep and Roger Hodgkins agreed to fix it.
In Drewsville, Ms. Pschirrer reported, there was no excavation going on there. It was being used for storage of some sand and gravel and there was no standing water.
Ms. Le Clerc said everything was in order at the Graves pit.
Mr. Vose said Mr. Fred Aldrich was in now charge of Whipple Hill. There was very little gravel taken out of this pit.
There was not a problem at Joe Sawyer’s pit, Ms. Lester said.
Water Protection Proposal
Ms. Mansouri said she appreciated Jennifer Palmiotto, executive director of Granite State Water Association, coming to the meeting and even though the Planning Board is actually responsible for putting the amendment on the ballot, the Zoning Board also helps in writing them.
The Planning Board will meet to discuss the revisions on Tuesday, October 28, 2014, at 7 p.m. at their regular workshop meeting and there is a Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, November 11, 2014. Ms. Mansouri asked the board members to go over the revisions and then attend the workshop session on Oct. 28.
Mr. Vose said the rule is that the Planning Board has a Public Hearing and if there are no changes, the revised ordinance is accepted as final and put on the ballot to be voted on in March. If there are some changes, the Planning Board has to hold another Public Hearing.
Board members received copies of: the current ordinances, a summary of the changes, and a combination of the current ordinances and the proposed revisions dated 10-14.
Ms. Palmiotto started with a little history. In 2002, the selectmen decided that the public water system should be studied every three years. The first group to study the public water supply was composed of a variety of people – businessmen, the agricultural community, residents from different parts of town. The final product was a plan on how Walpole could proactively protect the water supply. It included land conservation, purchase of some land around the wellheads and education in the school system and at Hooper Institute. The plan was adopted in March 2004 by a healthy majority and a minor amendment to the Ordinance passed in 2008. The document does not provide any legal teeth, it is just to advise.
The village of Walpole has two public wells: one is directly west from Shaw’s Market near the Connecticut River and the other one is on Watkins Hill Road. The one by the Connecticut River is very prolific – pumping 250 gallons per minutes. The Watkins Hill well pumps 25 gallons per minute. There are other public water supplies within Walpole – Hooper Golf Course, Bensonwwod, Drewsville Head Start and North Walpole. These drinking water sites can serve 25 or more people for six months of the year. Once a well is determined “public” it falls into a category that requires a certain amount of testing, filing with the EPA and having a certified operator. These are not community wells. They are called transient systems.
Ms. Palmiotto had maps showing where the wells were. There was a red line on the map go around each well. She said there is a protocol for uses of the land within the red line. Doug Heath, a retired EPA employee living in Walpole, did the delineations for these wells and recently did a refinement of the Watkins Hill well. Ms. Palmiotto was not sure if his refinement had been recently adopted.
In May 2013, the committee began work on this new public water supply document. The group met monthly. The committee names are listed in the introduction of the revisions.
The group, Ms. Palmiotto said, compared our ideas to a N.H. Department of Environmental Services model and invited a DES specialist to one of our meetings. He gave the group material to peruse. The group also examined ordinances use by other towns, most specifically the town of Berlin. The group then submitted a draft to Southwest Regional Planning Commission at no cost for the town for members. They gave us some feedback. The group incorporated what Southwest Region Planning had to say and at its final meeting on Oct. 1, the committee voted to support the revised draft.
Ms. Palmiotto suggested reading the two documents to see the differences. Then Ms. Palmiotto discussed some of the revisions, many of which revolved around wording issues. For example, an aquifer, to be clear, can go on for miles. The committee limited the scope to the wellhead surface area. Here is a broad look at the revisions:
Definitions were moved from Section 8 to Section III and unnecessary terms were removed (e.g. stratified drift, stratified drift aquifers). In addition, definitions were added for some terms such as “impervious surface” and “junkyards”.
Section IV improves the Overlay District description. Specific references are made to maps, which have been officially adopted on a certain date. The Wellhead Protection area around Watkins Hill was re-delineated and sent to EPA and DES. Ms. Palmiotto wasn’t sure where the change was in the process of acceptance but the NH Municipal Association might know how to find that out.
In Section V Determination and Adjustment of the Boundaries of the district are better defined.
In Section VII specific performance standards are outlined for all uses in the Wellhead Protection overlay District (unless the use is exempt. See Section XIII).
Section VIII adds a “Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan” for conditional uses that use regulated substances within the district (wellhead protection areas). This comes directly from the state.
Section IX describes the review and approval process for all applications withing the District.
Section X spells out 14 prohibited uses. Commercial animal feed lots was removed from current ordinance. Four uses were added: K. concrete, asphalt and tar manufacturing; L. Fueling and maintenance of large earth moving equipment; M. Sewerage/wastewater treatment system; N. Hazardous waste facility.
Section XI provides additional clarification on conditional uses.
Section XII adds a section on existing nonconforming uses.
Section XIII highlights exemptions (e.g. private residences, temporary storage of construction materials, sale transport and use of pesticides etc.)
Section XV describes the process for maintenance and inspection of performance standards. The revised draft includes a table highlighting prohibited uses and conditional uses.
Ms. Palmiotto recommended using Geographic Information System or GIS technology and said it could be very useful to a zoning board and Southwest Regional Planning could help the town establish one.
Ms. Palmiotto suggested if anyone is interested there is “The Model Groundwater Protection Ordinance” online and it can be downloaded from the NH DES site. Go to the Groundwater and Drinking Water Bureau. It is one of the references used by the committee.
Correspondence: Ms. Mansouri noted that the selectmen addressed the problem on Main Street across from the Bellows Walpole Inn regarding the number of unregistered vehicles on this site. The selectmen had received a letter from the Chair of the Zoning Board about this matter. The area seems to have been cleaned up.
There were two letters from the NH Division of Historical Resources about possible archaeological materials on the Abenaki Springs Development land on Route 12. The state archeologist is looking into the matter.
Sign Ordinance: Nathan Lynch submitted a color photograph of the sign he wants to put at his business on South Street. The sign is set back 10 feet from the road and 14 feet from the drive way. The sign post is 8 feet 4 inches, the cross post is 4 feet, 3 inches and the actual sign is 3 feet by 2 feet. Since all these dimensions and distances conform to the Walpole sign code, a motion was made and seconded, to approve the sign and the rest of the board agreed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 pm.