Real “food for thought” in these minutes! Good luck to the Planning Board and all involved. – Lil
Walpole Planning Board
April 14, 2015 Minutes
Walpole Town Hall 7 p.m.
Presiding Members: Jeffrey Miller (Chair), Robert Miller (Vice-Chair), James Aldrich, (Secretary), Dennis Marcom, Steve Dalessio (Selectboard Representative), Jason Perron, Kelley Hicks. Alternates: Edward Potter and Jeff White.
Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the May 9, 2015, meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Meeting Opened: Mr. J. Miller called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m.
Roll Call: All board members were present so no Alternates were called to fill in.
Minutes: Mr. R. Miller made a motion to accept the minutes as written. The motion was seconded and approved by the board.
Election of officers: Mr. Aldrich made a motion to appoint Jeffrey Miller as Chair, Robert Miller as Vice-Chair, and James Aldrich as Secretary. Ms. Hicks seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved by the board.
Lot Line Adjustment. Ms. Rita Simonds’ property, 34 Sawmill Road off of Cheshire Turnpike in Drewsville, Map 13, Lot 34, rural/agricultural district.
Mr. Joe DiBernardo was before the board to get information for client Ms. Rita Simonds. Ms. Simonds owns three contiguous tracts of land: 94.8 acres, 5.3 acres and 11-plus acres each. She wants to sell the house and the area where a mill was and reconfigure that lot. She may also have to reconfigure the other smaller lot because the largest lot has no road frontage. Mr. Miller called it a non-conforming lot.
Mr. Miller asked when the house was built. If it was built before 1960, it may be grandfathered, Miller said. Mr. DiBernardo didn’t know but he was sure it wasn’t a historic house – one over 100 years old.
According to the tax map, the three different tracks are considered one lot, but they are under three deeds at the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds. Mr. DiBernardo will return with a proposal after he has spoken with his client.
Petition for a public hearing for a subdivision and right of way by Ken Burns, Tax Map 10 Lot 39 and Map 8 Lot 76-2. It is zoned Residential A and B.
Mr. Burns owns Lot 76-2 on Map 8, which totals 20.5 acres. He also owns 6.9 acres on adjacent Lot 39 Map 10 on North Road. Mr. Burns would like to subdivide the latter 6.9 acres into three parcels; one lot on the west side would be 1.3 acres, a middle lot that would be 4.25 acres and a third lot on the easterly portion of the property would be 2.91 acres. The westerly and easterly lots would be annexed to Lot 76-2 Map 8 increasing that lot by 4.2 acres.
The middle lot has a frontage of 200.57 feet and a 50-foot right-of-way crossing the easterly lot is needed to serve as the driveway to the middle lot from North Road. Ms. Nancy Hamblet of 303 North Road asked where exactly the right of way would be. Mr. Bernardo said it was just south of the barn on the easterly lot.
A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to hold a Public Hearing in May.
Plans for Bensonwood property on Main Street Route 12, Map 12 Lot 3 on Edwards Lane, listed under Huntington Realty of Walpole. It is approximately 25 acres and zoned industrial/commercial.
Architect Mr. Randall Walter, representing Bensonwood, showed a plan that Bensonwood had proposed a couple of years ago for its property off Main Street Route 12. Mr. Walker wanted information on approval of a layout that the company had previously submitted for buildings for storage and manufacturing but its approval time has lapsed.
The property is one large parcel that has multiple uses – it also includes a barn owned by Hubbard Farms and Carol’s Scoop Shop.
Mr. Walter asked if each use had to be on its own site. Can different businesses be on a single property?
Does Bensonwood have to start from scratch in creating its business plan for buildings for storage and manufacturing on that property or can the previous approval still stand?
Mr. Walter said there are two changes. One is the large hickory tree indicated on the map has died and been removed. The other is that some land may be put in current use.
Mr. Miller said the proposal would need a new Public Hearing for a Site Plan Review. Mr. Dalessio reminded Mr. Walter that two important changes have been made to the zoning regulations since the prior approval – one regards Hazardous Waste and the other is the new Wellhead Protection Plan Overlay voted in in March. He suggested Mr. Walters familiarize himself with the contents of these ordinances.
Mr. Walter said the company uses less toxic chemicals than can be found in a normal person’s garage. He said the company isn’t ready to do anything immediately but he was before the board Tuesday night mainly for information.
Terri Patterson of Connecticut plans to build a group of upscale rental cabins, 400-800 square feet, which are all self-sustaining on a 110-acre piece of property off Merriam Road in the southeast corner of Walpole. It is in the timberland district.
Ms. Patterson explained that the plan is kind of like a B&B but instead of individual rooms there are going to be individual cabins. It is rental property. She would be living on the property. The cabins would be built in the Tiny Homes concept with cabins 400 to 800 square feet. “A lot of people are moving in that direction for efficiency, finances and simplicity and it’s a big movement across the country,” Ms. Patterson said. “I want to take that concept and in put it into a vacation getaway scenario.”
The other unique part of this property is that it would be completely off the grid – waste management, water, heating and electricity. There would be no ties to local utilities and all would be on the property.
Ms. Patterson said one purpose is educational – to show people you can live in a small, comfortable space without roughing it.
There are few “hiccups” with the property. The gentleman who owns it has a lien on the property and there are some issues with the town of Surry. There are three different tracts for sale. This is the one in the middle.
Before she hires a real estate attorney and goes ahead in other ways, she wanted to know if the Walpole Planning Board would embrace this kind of idea.
One board members asked if the property was in Walpole. She said the property was completely in Walpole.
Mr. J. Miller asked if it had frontage or do you have to get to build on a Class 6 Road. Ms. Patterson said, you enter from Joslin Road in Surry and it bring you to Merriam Road. Mr. Aldrich said that was a Class 6.
Lewis Shelley, a Walpole Conservation Commissioner , said he was aware that there is a stream that had to be crossed.
Ms. Patterson said Joslin Road is in Surry and that Surry is requiring the gentleman who owns the property to build a bridge across the stream. That would have to be all cleared up, which is why I’m looking to hire a real estate attorney.
Mr. Shelley said there was damage to the stream and road work done without permission but it was all resolved and the Department of Environmental Services checked it out.
Mr. Miller said he was trying to see how it conforms to what we already have in the town. There are separate rentals, usually contiguous rather than scattered like this. Mr. Dalessio said the Caserta Farm has several scattered rentals. Mr. Miller said they have been there for many years.
Another board member asked if the the cabins would be built off site and then trucked in. Ms. Patterson replied that they would be prefab and assembled on site. Initially, a cabin welcome center, where Ms. Patterson would live, and four additional cabins are planned.
“I want people to have a secluded and tranquil experience,” Ms. Patterson said. “There’s no Wi-Fi. People can have their phones but the the idea is to disconnect from all technology.”
Mr. Shelley said he liked the idea. He then asked if the power is solar, wind or something else?
Ms. Patterson said she had hired an alternative energy consultant to come with a solution based on the concept and the property. There will be backup, propane and generators if needed.
Mr. Dalessio asked if there was going to be one central well and one central septic. Ms. Patterson replied yes, as well as one energy system.
You might want to look into the Public Works regulations if there is one system, Mr. Miller advised. There might be certain restrictions.
Mr. Aldrich asked if there was going to be major road construction, a town-maintained road. Ms. Patterson replied “no.” Ms. Patterson replied that the gentleman who owns the property now, owns the two adjacent properties and they maintain the road now and will continue to maintain it.
There’s a cleared area at the bottom of the property, Ms. Patterson said, that will serve as a parking lot. There would be no automobiles or trucks on that road. People will park in the central parking lot and carts would take people to their cabins. There will not be a lot of change to the structure of the property. Ms. Patterson would start with four cabins and eventually build 12 to 15 with some in more secluded areas.
Mr. Miller said it’s a Class 6 road, but in the past we’ve approved of buildings with special exceptions. However, that goes with stipulations that’s it’s not town maintained and, if for some reason, a fire truck can’t get to a fire, then the fire department can’t be sued.
Mr. Perron asked about length of rental. Ms. Patterson said it would be short term – a weekend, a week.
He then asked if we have anything like this. Mr. Miller said we have B&B and multiple rentals. It’s just now they are in one building.
Access to the property is the question, Mr. Miller said. It’s an interesting concept. There will need to be some special exceptions. This is a unique setup. It brings up a lot of question though, how it can fit in the town. We suggest you keep the lines of communication open.
Mr. Perron asked about a time line. Ms. Patterson said she’ll have a better idea once the land and investors are secured. She has a builder, David Howard of Walpole.
The technology is definitely there, it’s just putting in the right combinations of systems for a four-season environment.
Mr. R . Miller asked about the future, if these units would be sold. Ms. Patterson said these are going to be more of a model and offering to clients who can stay there to see if they’d like to purchase one to build.
If you get into selling them, then you get into a subdivision nightmare, Mr. Miller said.
Ms. Patterson said her long-term vision is to create this model and bring it to other parts of the country. She plans to use local resources and support the local economy.
Mr. Miller said this is a good opportunity for a workshop – to look at the zoning ordinances regarding this project. So he scheduled a workshop meeting for Tuesday, April 28, in the downstairs conference room at 7 p.m.
The meeting was adjourned at about 8 p.m.