Walpole Planning Board
February 9, 2016 Minutes
Presiding: Jeffrey Miller (Chair), Robert Miller (Vice-Chair), James Aldrich, (Secretary), Steve Dalessio (Selectboard Representative), Dennis Marcom, Jason Perron.
Alternates: Ed Potter and Jeff White.
Absent: Kelley Hicks
Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the March 2016 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Meeting Opened: Mr. J. Miller, Chair, called the meeting to order at 7 pm.
Roll Call: One board members was absent so Mr. Miller asked Alternate Jeff White to sit in her place.
Minutes: Mr. Marcom made a motion to accept both the January 2016 minutes and the Public Hearing minutes for a petition to be placed on the warrant as written. The motion was seconded by Mr. Aldrich and the Board unanimously agreed.
Mr. Ed Potter had a Public Hearing on a Lot Line Adjustment on his property on Old Keene Road, Map 7, Lots 21 and 22-1 in the Rural/Agricultural District.
Mr. Ed. Potter purchased 1.17 acres of land on Map 7, Lot 22-1 from Mr. Steven Brode about a year ago. The western line on that parcel of land was jagged. He wanted to move the property line 77.52 feet westward toward property owned by him and his brother, Bruce Potter. The property originally belonged to the Potters’ sister. The Lot Line Adjustment will make Lot 22-1 1.4 acres and take .23 acres from Lot 21.
Mr. J. Miller asked if there were any questions. There being none, he closed the hearing.
Mr. Matt Blanc of Blanc & Bailey was before the Board to update the plans for the Potato Barn regarding the letter from the Walpole Fire Department and access from Route 12.
Mr. R. Miller recused himself from voting on the matter because he works for Blanc & Bailey.
Mr. Blanc explained that he was at the meeting to let the Board know what was happening at the Potato Barn. He said he had been before the Board in November and the Board requested that the Fire Department sign off on what was being done. The Department did not and said the entire building should be sprinkled.
The Board also requested revisiting the access to the property by a road from Route 12. Shortly after the November meeting. Blanc met with SWDOT and Brickstone, the designer of the site plan and learned that Route 12, which runs to the west of the Potato Barn was the first bypass granted to the Town of Walpole. He learned that a condition of the bypass was that there would be no access road from South Street to where Main Street meets Route 12 by what is now Agway. The reasoning, he said, was that there had been federal funding with the balance paid by state funds. Apparently, someone found an article that stated that Walpole agreed to the terms.
So, Blanc said, “we were told basically that we needed to go to Congress.” Blanc & Bailey went back to the drawing board, and while the group will continue to pursue the Route 12 access, the decision was to widen the already existing driveway.
The plan is to widen the current driveway from 15 feet to 24 feet. This can be done completely on the Potato Barn property and would not encroach on anyone else’s property line, Blanc said. He had an updated drawing. All of the maples and all of the shrubs will stay on the entrance portion of the road. Four large maple down towards the building will be taken down in order to extend the road all the way around the entire barn. Land in back of the barn, at the south end, will be reserved for parking.
Mr. Kevin Dunn of Sacramento, CA., was hired by the owner, Mr. Steve Rudek, to consult on the project. Mr. Dunn conveyed his frustration at the turn of events by the state not granting access and the fire department and of all the delays.
Mr. Marcom said it was his recollection that when Cynthia Reeves owned the Potato Barn, she had permission to put a road off of Route 12, not a driveway. Mr. Aldrich interjected that it was a Town Road for 100 and some odd feet.
Mr. J. Miller said, addressing Mr. Dunn, that it had gotten state approval before when Ms. Cynthia Reeves owned the building. It would be in the files. It was going to be a town road and it was approved by the town.
If he wanted to go back into the files, it could be done.
Mr. Dunn said that the farm will fall down before we get through all the paper work for the road. Widening the road is a great way to get something done before we get access, if the project ever gets access.
The intended use of the building has been changed to possibly four apartments on the upper level, also with parking and access at the upper level. The lower level would be light commercial, possibly a distillery or a commercial bakery. The building will not be split, as previously proposed, because of the reaction by the fire department and it did not get their blessing
Mr. Houghton said the Department thought there would be a risk to come to this building having to cross under a wooden bridge. Mr. Houghton said that the fire department wanted 360 degree access around the building and that the entire building be sprinkled.
The Route 12 traffic would be on the west side of the building. Access to the building would be coming in from Main Street. Mr. Dunn said it’s only two turns and with the proper signage it will be easily accessible.
Mr. J. Miller said that there may be some concern about traffic off Main Street and being the main access to the building. Route 12 was advantageous and had town support.
The number of parking spaces will be decreased with the change of use. Mr. Blanc said parking spaces are dependent on type of occupancy. If there are five people working in a commercial space, that’s less than a retail operation would need.
Mr. Dalessio asked Mr. Blanc if apartments were allowed in that area. Mr. Blanc said he thought it was commercial so he thought apartments were allowed but he would check the ordinances. Mr. Dunn said if there couldn’t be apartments, there could be offices.
Mr. J. Miller said that the new road means that the site plan will have been amended and that there should be a Public Hearing. A motion was made to hold a Public Hearing next month. It was seconded and approved by the Board.
Mr. Houghton said the opposition the Fire Department had no longer applies and that this plan meets all the department’s requests.
Mr. Greg Gay of North Walpole had been to the Planning Board about six months ago and the Board asked him to get permission or talk to the North Walpole commissioners about what he was planning to do.
He wants to build a 60-foot-by-100-foot building on the former Cray Oil Land in North Walpole in the Industrial Zone. He has already obtained a building permit from the North Walpole commissioners.
He was told he would have to have a Site Plan Review, which meant a form, instructions, Public Hearing and abutters would be notified.
Mr. Gay asked that since abutters were at the meeting, couldn’t they ask questions now. Mr. J. Miller said that a Public Hearing is the forum for questions.
Mr. Dalessio asked if he had a building permit from North Walpole and drawings, complete with a set of drawings, electrical, lighting, etc. Mr. Gay asked if he could do it himself. Mr. J. Miller said it usually depends on the size and scope of the building.
The building would be used to fabricate race cars, a simple chaissis shop, Mr. Gay said. There would be one employee who did welding. It would be self-contained inside, and basic hand tools would also be used. There will be a little bit of body work, but no painting.
Mr. Perron asked if it was commercial. Mr. Gay responded yes.
Mr. Donald Lennon, an abutter and officer of Len-Tex Corp., said that previously Mr. Gay had spoken of a residence there. I’m a little confused that the residence plan is no longer an issue and there is also an issue of cutting a water line in North Walpole. “That concerns us greatly as it does Tony Elliott at Woodstone, another abutter.” Mr. Lennon also brought up the issue of nonindustrial uses in an Industrial District. Mr. Gay said that he would not be asking for residence at this time.
Mr. Lennon said he questions whether or not this is truly and honestly an industrial facility. And will it or will it not have an attached residence? “There is a lot more information that we need. But it’s very critical to us because Len-Tex wishes to expand in North Walpole.” Business is very good for Len-Tex and the company would like to expand its real estate and move to one side of the railroad tracks. Right now the company has buildings on both sides of the tracks, which , Mr. Lennon called “grossly inefficient.”
He said there is a lot of information that the company will require for this building to be built. He said he was speaking for Tony Elliott of Woodstone as well.
Mr. Lennon said he is requesting an extremely in-depth presentation to protect his investment. Again, he said, he was speaking for Woodstone. “If we could be assured of that, that would be great.” He hoped that his real estate would not be diminished by the Board granting this request.
Mr. Gay said his business belongs in the Industrial District. “When you start with a piece of metal and build a car from it, that’s industrial.”
Mr. Gay was given an application, a couple of sheets of paper with questions and a site plan regulation booklet. Mr. Gay said he couldn’t say he wasn’t interested in the residential part of this but he not applying for that right now.
Mr. Lennon said that he hoped the Board would take into consideration what is best for the taxpayers of Walpole. Len-Tex pays the highest taxes in the village and will continue to. He also said that the Board has to look at what’s best for the abutters and make sure it doesn’t diminish their property.
Mr. R. Miller made a motion to request a Public Hearing for Mr. Gay at next month’s meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Aldrich and approved by the rest of the Board.
Jack Franks and the Bee Hive: Mr. Franks came to the meeting to talk about an idea he had for the Bee Hive on School Street. He said in his estimation the buildings were in such disarray that it would take and enormous amount of money to rehab them – maybe $1.3 million. Structurally it’s in very tough shape. It’s also a place the police department visit on a regular basis.
This is very preliminary. It would need a survey and engineering design. The setbacks seem okay.
His plan, which is just a rough draft of what he might do, is to make it into 16 condominiums, about a 1,000 square feet, with two bedrooms with 2 baths. The building would be modular with two stories with parking in a downtown setting. There would be 30 percent green space. It would abut a housing development. There are 10 units now and it’s a bit of an increase but it’s better than putting a band-aid on the building. I think that there’s a market for it. It would be good for the tax base of Walpole. It would be all sprinkled so the fire department wouldn’t have an issue.
Mr. Potter asked if he would be selling these. Mr. Franks said yes but that he may hold on to one or two for himself.
Mr. Potter said he thought that the town voted a couple of years ago not to have condominiums in the village district. It was down by Woodward Florist. It may have been 10 years ago. Mr. J. Miller said it was a different layout. Those were cluster houses.
Mr. Franks said that the land is in the Commercial District and he had a Letter of Intent with the landowner.
Ms. Myra Mansouri said that she thought the landowner had declared bankruptcy and that the bank owned the property. Mr. Franks said that was true but it was eventually sold to Elm Grove Properties in Manchester.
She said she was also concerned about the narrow street and it’s already crowded with Applewood.
Mr. Franks said it’s a two-lane road. He also invited the Planning and Zoning Boards to come down and look at the units being built behind Tractor Supply.
Decision on Potter Public Hearing: Mr. Aldrich made a motion to approve the Lot Line Adjustment on the Potter property as presented. The motion was seconded by Mr. R. Miller and the Board voted in the affirmative.
The Board voted to go into executive session to discuss a legal affair.
Mr. Aldrich voted to adjourn at 8:10 pm after the Board came out of executive session. The motion was seconded and approved by the rest of the Board. The minutes of the executive session will be sent only to the Chair and Vice-Chair and shared only with the rest of the Board at the next meeting.