Walpole Zoning Board of Adjustment Minutes
February 17, 2016
Present: Board Members: Chair Myra Mansouri, Mary Therese Lester, Ernie Vose, Bob Anderson. Alternates: Judy Trow. Absent: Vice-Chair Jan Galloway Leclerc, Stephanie Stoughton.. Recording: Marilou Blaine.
These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the March 2016 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Roll Call: Ms. Mansouri called the meeting to order at 7:36 pm. There was a board member missing so Ms. Trow was needed to fill in.
Minutes of January: There were a couple of typos. Corrections were made. Ms. Trow made a motion to accept the minutes as corrected. Mr. Vose seconded the motion and the motion was unanimously approved by the Board.
Junkyards: Mr. Anderson researched junkyards looking up the current RSA 147-23. He said much of it was confusing. Our current junkyard ordinance begins much as the RSA does because it describes what a junkyard can call junk – “the use of land or buildings for motor vehicle, machinery or scrap metal junkyard is the use standard set and enforced by NH Revised Statues (Chapter 236 N.H.L. 1993).”
Mr. Anderson said the statute is 17 two-sided pages long and it was impossible for him to tell the Board everything in the RSA. Junkyards are grouped with recycling yards and really under the auspices of the Department of Transportation. So when reading them, the first third of regulations deal with junkyards near interstate highways. When you get deeper into the regulations, they branch out and casually mention regulations along other highways and eventually road regulations that apply to Walpole.
The regulations say an applicant needs a license for a junkyard. The governing body that deals with the licenses in Walpole would be the Selectboard. So an applicant would apply, in our case, to the Selectboard. As part of the application process, municipalities having a junkyard ordinance and a zoning board of adjustment, the application must first go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment and obtain a “certificate” stating that the junkyard is not within an established district restricted for such uses or other reason opposed by the Zoning Board.
So, in other words, the applicant has to come to the Walpole Zoning Board of Adjustment first and get a statement that the application doesn’t violate anything in the current zoning ordinance. It becomes part of the application. There are a lot of regulations in the section of the interstate highway system that flow through to the RSA of the town.
Mr. Vose mentioned fences and Mr. Anderson said there are regulations on how high fences must be and that the fences must totally enclose or surround the property. Then in the location requirements the statutes do finally talk about Class 1, 2 3, 3a roads. These all have setback requirements, and can’t be less than 650 feet from a right of way for class 1, 2, and 3 roads and can’t be less than 300 from the right of way from class 4, 5 and 6 highways.
Mr. Vose said the junkyard up by Pete Graves farm doesn’t qualify and it’s been there so long it’s probably grandfathered. And he doesn’t have a license. Mr. Vose asked if the Board was going to change the ordinance so it covers these regulations in Walpole?
Mr. Anderson said, “I don’t know where we are going with this.” He asked, “What are the objectives?” Ms. Mansouri said just to learn.
Mr. Anderson said Walpole has about a couple of paragraphs in its junkyard ordinance. On page 5 of the Zoning Ordinances, under General Provisions, it says, G. Junk Yards and Dumps 1. The use of land or buildings for motor vehicle, machinery or scrap metal junk yards is the use standard set and enforced by NH Revised Statutes (Chapter 236 N.H.L. 1993). Machinery and scrap metal junkyards may be allowed by prior permit from the Board of Selectmen if they meet the same requirements as are in force for the motor vehicle junkyard. 2. The use of land for dumping garbage and refuse as defined in RSA 147-24 is prohibited except that a dump may continue as a non-conforming use if it complies with the provisions of RSA 147 and 149 M and including the provision for approval, therefore, as required in RSA 147- 25. 3. The selection of a public dumping place maintained or designated by the Board of Selectmen in accordance with RSA 147-23 to 147-30 shall not be affected by this Ordinance. So the regulations differ slightly depending on the class of the road.
The setback footage from the road is different but ALL junkyards should be fully enclosed by a fence. Persons wanting to get a permit must go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment first before getting a permit from the local governing body, which, in the case of Walpole, is the Selectboard. The last time the Walpole junkyard ordinance was updated was 1993. The state junkyard statutes were updated several times between 1993 and 2012.
How does the ZBA want to update its ordinance? Does it want to put it to a town vote? Or can the town simply update the ordinances according to the state statutes without putting it on the warrant?
Mr. Anderson said it seems logical that we could just update this, but it’s better to check. Ms. Mansouri is going to call the NH Municipal Associations and check what she must do and, at Mr. Vose‘s suggestion, call Southwest Regional Planning to see if they already have an updated statute that the ZBA could use for its ordinance.
Mr. Vose said if the Municipal Association won’t allow us to simply to change the date, then they should have something that can make this thing work. What is the date on our ordinance? Ms. Mansouri asked. Mr. Anderson replied 1993. Ms. Mansouri asked when was the latest date a statute was added. Mr. Anderson said there are multiple dates with the latest 2012. Wouldn’t it be simpler if we just don’t put a date? Ms. Mansouri asked.
Ms. Lester said it seems silly to put a date on the ordinance when we know it may change. This way the Board never has to change a date. On the same thought, are we going to write local ordinances or are we going to go along with the state? It says specific local ordinances shall control when in conflict with this subdivision in the RSA. If we had our own, it’s better than theirs.
“If that becomes the question, then I’ll have to go deeper,” Mr. Anderson said. “Look into specific regulations of junkyards. There are a lot of them.”
Southwest should have done all that homework and they should give us somewhere to start, Mr. Vose said. Mr. Anderson said, “I’ll give you an example of my frustration. I thought had zeroed in on something that was going to be really appropriate, in the industrial area. Mr. Anderson read from the statute: “not withstanding any provision of this . junkyards, auto graveyards and scrap metal processing facilities can be operated adjacent to the interstate system and the turnpike system, which is within 1000 feet of the nearest right-of-way in a zoned industrial area. Or which are within an unzoned industrial area, but are used for industrial activities.”
Do you think that has anything to do with us? Mr. Anderson asked. It’s buried in the section so it goes back and forth. That fits Ruggiero. Mr. Vose said. Ernie Way is the only junkyard in Walpole. It’s on Valley Road, before you get to Woods.
“If you want me to continue, I can make up a list of items that are appropriate, Mr. Anderson said. “Do we want to develop our own regulations? Let’s see what Southwest has to say.”
Ms. Trow said that our ordinance says nothing about people coming to the Zoning Board. Part of the permit would be to send them here first. Do we know if the selectmen would send them here? Ms. Trow asked. “Maybe it should be right on the application.” Ms. Mansouri said, “I don’t know, I’ve never seen an application for a junkyard.” Maybe the Zoning Board would have to have its own application, someone speculated. It would have to include set backs and fences.
County Road is a state road, Mr. Vose said. It’s in total disrepair. They don’t use that terminology of county road, state road etc. Mr. Anderson said. They call them highways, class 1, 2, 3a, 4, 5 and 6 What’s 5? It’s a regular road, 6 is subject to gates and bars. I’ve never heard of class 4, Mr. Vose said. I think most of our roads in town are class 5. Ms. Mansouri said. Even a dirt road, it would be class 5, it has to do maintenance. And then there’s Farnum Road. It’s a scenic highway. You can’t do anything it without permission from the Planning Board, Mr. Vose said.
Everyone thanked Mr. Anderson for doing such a good job researching junkyards.. The Matrix Ms. Trow submitted one, which everyone seemed to like. She brought in one with boxes and arrows. Ms. Mansouri said the Board must be sure it conforms to what has been written? That was what everyone decided on at last meeting.
Mr. Vose said if a person has to go to ZBA for a special excepting, they have to go to planning for a hearing date, get a recommendation and then to back to ZBA. They could do it the following week for a special exception hearing, Ms Mansouri said. Do you think this is easy to follow and makes sense? The only thing I’m looking at is after the special exception, Mr. Vose said. The person might have to go back to the Planning Board for a site plan review. It was suggested that instead of having another box, the one there should be move more to the left and further down. Good job Judy.
The Board will do Draft 5 next month. Mr. Vose made a motion to go into executive session. The motion was seconded by Ms. Lester. The Board voted in the affirmation.
When the Board came out of executive session, Mr. Vose made a motion to adjourn, the motion was seconded by Ms. Lester and the Board voted in the affirmative.
The time was 8:20 pm.
Respectfully submitted, Marilou Blaine