Planning Board Workshop – 10/27/15

Walpole Planning Board Workshop

October 27, 2015

Present: Planning Board: Jeff Miller (Chair), Robert Miller (Vice-Chair), James Aldrich (Secretary), Steve Dalessio (Selectboard Representative), Jason Perron, Dennis Marcom. Alternates: Jeff White and Ed Potter.

Zoning Board Members: Myra Mansouri ( Chair), Jan Le Clerc (Vice-Chair), Ernie Vose (Clerk).

Recording: These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the November 10, 2015, meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.

The meeting was called to order around 7 p.m. The topic again was Special Exceptions. Four of the Districts in the Zoning Ordinances have requirements for Special Exceptions: Residential, Commercial, Rural/Agricultural and Industrial. Each differs slightly depending on which District the Exception is in.

For example, in the Rural/Agricultural District a couple exceptions are:

Article VIII Section C – 1. Industrial, manufacturing and commercial operations by Special Exception from the Board of Adjustment when fulfilling the following requirements;

a. Consideration of Planning Board recommendation on the project based on its determination following a public hearing that,

  1. Property currently zoned for industrial, manufacturing and commercial operations is ether unavailable or inadequate for the proposed use
  2. and the proposed use is appropriate and consistent with Town’s Master Plan.

b. Each proposed use must show that it will not infringe on the primary established use of the district.

c. No industrial manufacturing or commercial venture or use shall be permitted which could cause any undue hazard to health, safety or property values or which could be offensive to the public because of noise, vibration, excessive traffic, unsanitary conditions, noxious odor, smoke or other similar reason.

And so forth. There are four more conditions in the Rural/Agricultural District. It is important for the applicant to check the Zoning Ordinances in each District to determine which Ordinance is applicable to the applicant’s case.

By contrast the Industrial Zone in Section VIII concerns were more about off-street parking, loading facilities for freight etc. However, the Special Exception still requires the Zoning Board to consider the Planning Board recommendation on the project.

There was some discussion of when the Zoning Board of Adjustment should hear the Special Exception application – before or after the Walpole Planning Board has made a recommendation. According to Mr. J. Miller, the applicant goes to the Zoning Board first. The confusion is because the Zoning Board’s decision depends on the recommendation of the Planning Board – not the approval of the Site Plan, but the recommendation of the Planning Board. Mr. Miller says it has nothing to do with a Site Plan, it’s the process. So does the Zoning Board hear a Special Exceptions question before the Planning Board has even heard the case. As one board member said, it’s a little like the chicken and egg question.

Ms. Mansouri differed in her opinion stating that the Planning Board must make a decision on a recommendation before the Zoning Board can rule. There will be further discussion of the matter. Currently, when an applicant goes to the Zoning Board first, and an affirmative decision is made, it must state that it is pending the Planning Board’s recommendation.

Also, it was suggested that the application form should be more informative and state the process or steps to getting a Special Exception.

Also discussed was the Checklist. The Checklist is a list of questions about whether or not the applicant has submitted certain items with an application. Some of the questions don’t apply to every applicant so answering them may be waived. Mr. Dalessio said that the Site Plan Review Checklist/Waiver Form must be included with a Site Plan Review Application and that this has been a long-standing requirement.

The meeting broke up about 7:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Marilou Blaine, secretary

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