Zoning Board Meeting Minutes – 10/21/15

Walpole Zoning Board of Adjustment

Minutes: October 21, 2015

Present: Board Members: Chair Myra Mansouri, Vice Chair Jan Galloway Le Clerc, Clerk Ernie Vose,  Mary Therese Lester, Bob Anderson. Alternates: Stephanie Stoughton. Absent: Alternate Judy Trow.

Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the November 2015 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.

Roll Call: Ms. Mansouri called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m. Since Ms. Lester was going to be a little late, Ms. Mansouri asked Ms. Stoughton to sit in her place.

Minutes: There were three small corrections: the letter “t” was left off the word the, visiting should be visited in paragraph 8 on the second page and Ms. Trow went with Ms. LeClerc to inspect Mr. Tim Graves’ gravel pit. Mr. Vose made a motion to approve the minutes as corrected. Ms. LeClerc seconded the motion and the board voted unanimously.

New business:  Mr. Barry Bellows was before the Board to explain a project to the Board and then see if there was any course of action that could be taken.

He started by explaining where his clients, Mr. Tom Crouse and Kashiyo Enokido, lived – a two-bedroom home with an attached two-car garage at 192 March Hill Road. The home is at the end of a long driveway, across a brook and the slope, brook and configuration of the land prevent them from building a new garage attached to the current building. The new proposed building would be about 70 feet from the current building.

Mr. Belllows’ clients wanted to add a 32 -foot-by-29-foot two-story garage with a studio, guest bedroom with a bathroom, plus a bay for lawn equipment etc. detached from the home for a place for children to stay when they visit. Mr. Bellows showed the map to the Board. He said it would not be a rental for income, it would not be a permanent residence, literally overflow people during the holidays. This is physically the only place this structure could be added.

Ms. Mansouri explained Article 17,  Part P pf the Zoning Ordinance. This article requires a dwelling be put on one common foundation. The ordinance is: “Dwelling: Means a building of common foundation. A one or two family dwelling will share the same foundation per lot.” The ordinance was put in place by the Planning Board because second dwellings were popping up at homes in Walpole, Ms. Mansouri said. They were dwellings with water. That concern led the Planning Board to write an ordinance. It was put on the warrant and voted on by the people.

Ms. Mansouri suggested that they make the current garage into a garage/studio/guest bedroom. The detached garage would be uses for cars. Mr. Bellows said that they would then have to walk 70 feet to the house from the garage, a major inconvenience.

Mr. Bellows asked about a variance using the land as the hardship. Ms. Mansouri said the request would probably be turned down. Mr. Bellows said that the structures are placed so you don’t see an abutter.

Mr. Vose asked about the sewage/septic system. Mr. Bellows said it was designed to take care of the additional bedroom. He continued that the reasoning for the ordinance is the future. While your plan is well intended, if there are two separate buildings, a future owner could use it as a rental apartment or sell it into two lots.

But then those people would be in violation, Mr. Bellows said. But at that point, Mr. Vose said, the Board can’t do anything about it because it was granted by the Zoning Board. He repeated it need the same foundation.

Mr. Bellows asked if there was ever an exception and Ms. Mansouri said “no.” Ms. LeClerc asked why not put the bedroom over the current garage and have the detached garage for the studio and lawn equipment. Mr. Bellows said the attached garage is actually small. It’s for compact cars.

Is there a definition for common foundation.? Mr. Bellows asked. It’s a common foundation, Mr. Vose said.

Cynthia Reeves sculpture/sign: Ms. Reeves came to the meeting to give her side of the sculpture misunderstanding with the Unitarian Church property.

Ms. Reeves said, “that at no point did I refuse the churches’ request to move the sculpture. I think it was in the minutes of the September Zoning Board meeting. I was perturbed by that because I didn’t know you were going to be discussing it (the sculpture) and if I had known, I would have come to the meeting as well. I would do anything possible to make the church feel comfortable with having the gallery being their neighbor.”

Ms. Reeves said it was unfortunate that the owner of sculptures placed them without her knowledge and her specifying to the owner where they ought to go. ”When I saw where they were put, I emailed the church and said they might be over the line and they might want to check.” When it was decided that they were over the property line, it took a while to get the owner to come back. He had to arrange for a crane.

The church is threatening to sue her for the presence of the sculpture and now the sculptor is threatening to sue her because of his expenses.

Ms. Reeves sent a letter to the Zoning Board with copies to the owner of the property, Bruce Carruthers, the Unitarian Church and Selectmen explaining the chain of events. It also included the chain of emails from both the church side and the gallery side.

Mr. Carruthers is still unsure of where the property line is and he has requested that the Unitarian Church provide him with a clear indication of the property line in order to ensure correct compliance with Town Zoning Guidelines. This applies to location of the sign. Ms. Mansouri said church member Mr. Stewart Reed might know where the property line is.

Old Business: Bensonwood. Special Exception: Huntington Realty of Walpole LLC, Bensonwood woodworking Col. Inc. of 6 Black jack Crossing Town Map 12, Lot 4-3. Commercial and Rural/agricultural zone. Bensonwood needs a special exception to build a manufacturing facility (total 52,250) in a Rural/agricultural District. Article VIII, Section C-1 a.

Bensonwood had received a Special Exception in 2008 for an industrial use in the rural agricultural zone for their parcel on Route 12, formerly the Huntington Farm. Because of the economy, the company did not go ahead with the plan.

This new application was accepted as complete. The differences in this project were that the plant would be built in one phase and the location has changed because of the demise of a hickory tree. So as not to harm the tree, the other building was built at another location. Mr. Randall Walter said this building is more efficient. It is one building, although there is a line separating the halves so that the two parts are closed off from one another because of types of production. By building code, only a certain amount of square feet square feet of production space is allowed before new space is needed.

It would be one industrial, commercial building under one roof. The indoor facility would employ approximately 20 employees to make wall, floor and roof panels for the homes they sell. The building will be sprinkled. The depression to the right of the building is a storm water management system for runoff.

The reason why this place is an opportune manufacturing site is that it has 3 phase power, town water and a sewer line. These things take a tremendous amount of space at the facility at Blackjack Crossing, which will still be retained. There will be no noxious or injurious odors. The company prides itself on keeping its employees safe and looking out for their welfare.

The building is organized so deliveries will be in back, use of fork lifts will be on the left side of property and neighbors will be shielded from noise. There is a small section for office space.

The traffic study is the same as before and it is expected there will be 10 to 15 trucks per day. The project has DOT approval. Since the answers to the required questions were identical to the 2008 application, Ms. Lester said that will be waived since they were approved before.

A recommendation is need from the Planning Board, Ms. Mansouri said. If you get a Special Exception, it will be dependent on the Planning Board approving the Site Plan and recommending that to the Zoning Board.

Mr. Walter said, “We expected the Planning Board to vote when we presented the Site Plan. For some reason the chairman did not call for a vote. I believe it was procedural error.”

There is usually discussion of some special exception questions but since the answers were identical to the 2008 hearing Ms. Lester said she thought it fruitless since they were approved before.

The Public Hearing was closed.  Mr. Vose made a motion to approve the Special Exception pending the Planning Board’s decision. Ms. LeClerc seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.

Gravel Pits: Board members turned in their reports. Mr. Anderson had photographs of the Hodgkins pit that showed that Mr. Hodgkins had remedied the concerns that the Board Member who inspected the report cited last year. Mr. Anderson said Mr. Hodgkins leveled off the area that had too steep a grade, put up the signs required and put up something to protect runoff from going into a nearby brook.

Mr. Vose said the Whipple Hill owner is planning on taking something out of the pit later this year. He will check on that.

Mr. Anderson questioned if the land that Mr. Hodgkins sold to Ruggiero has to be reclaimed. No one was sure but the new gravel pit regulations will be checked.

Letter to Selectboard: The secretary sent a letter to the Selectboard that said people were complaining about the dumping of washing machines and dryers on a particular property on County Road.

Ms. Mansouri read the letter to the Lafayettes from the Selectboard about the old washers, dryers and metal waste that have been discarded on the property in violation of ZBA Article IV, G Junk Yard and Dumps. The Lafayettes have 30 days to respond, which Ms. Mansouri thought was about November 2nd or 3rd. She will check with the Selectboard about a response letter.

Letter to Planning Board: Ms. Mansouri wrote a letter responding to the Planning Board concerning the minutes from the Planning Board workshop in September. She personally was offended by the minutes and offended for members of the Board, which gives so much of their time. The letter is being revised and will be presented to the Planning Board at its next workshop meeting.

Executive Session: The Board went into executive session to read the minutes of the previous executive session and the letter from Town Attorney Mr. Hockensmith. Motions were made, seconded and passed to keep the minutes and letter sealed.

The board came out of executive session 45  minutes later and  closed the meeting at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Marilou Blaine


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