Walpole Planning Board
March 29, 2016
Presiding: Robert Miller (Vice-Chair), Steve Dalessio (Selectboard Representative), Jason Perron.
Alternates: Ed Potter. Absent: Jeff Miller, James Aldrich, Dennis Marcom, Jeff White.
Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the April 2016 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Meeting Opened: Mr. R. Miller, Chair, called the meeting to order at 7 pm.
Roll Call: This was discussion of participation in a federal grant program, so no vote was taken.
Grant Program: Mr. J. Miller had an email from Mr. Ben Daviss about a federal grant, which gives towns assistance in writing grants when seeking money to hire consultants to improve planning and zoning regulations such as Zoning Ordinances, Subdivision Regulations and Site Plan Review Regulations. The grant is called the NH Municipal Technical Assistance Grant Program. At the previous workshop meeting March 22, Mr. J. Miller asked Mr. R. Miller to look into it and contact Ms. Lisa Murphy at Southwest Regional Planning Commission.
The purpose of the grant was for the Planning and Zoning Boards to thoroughly review their regulatory documents to see if changes should be made. A comprehensive work plan was provided and it included:
Kickoff meeting to present the project and generate interest.
Check consistency of regulations with Master Plan
Prepare report with results and suggested changes
Meeting with Planning Board and Consultants
Prepare draft of change to regulations
Public Meeting to provide outreach and education on proposed regulations
Incorporate public comments into proposed regulations
Planning Board to hold Public Hearing on Warrant Article
Implement Outreach Plan
Ms. Murphy told Mr. Miller that the town needed two items from Planning or Zoning that either board wanted to deal with. She also said most towns are passing on this grant because it’s too much work in a short period of time. The paper work must be in by Monday, April 4 at 5 pm. She said she would be glad to assist us if Walpole wanted to pursue this but there are some far-reaching implications, one being having to report back over a five-year period.
Mr. R. Miller said, “We’ve got to put together something that’s meaningful and serious. It’s an important issue for us. And we need to put some work into going through our Site Plan and Zoning, through its ordinances by 5 o’clock Monday, I’m not sure we can do this.”
Mr. Miller continued that the first step was to know what needs changing and what the Board’s goal is. “Sitting here right now, I don’t know the answer to that question. It won’t be ready by Monday.”
“It’s been my experience there is always a lot of work up front and a lot of work afterward, so you need someone dedicated to do the work,” Mr. Dalessio said.
Mr. Miller said, “I’m also a little skeptical of the government throwing out a bone. Maybe this will come about next year, but in the meantime, honestly we are not ready to work on something like this.”
Mr. Dalessio suggested that if the Board wanted someone to work with on this project he could recommend Carol Oglebee, who once was used to look over the Site Plan and was a great help. She is now retired and working as a consultant, Mr. Dalessio thinks she was head of planning or development in Peterborough. She’s someone who we might hire to look over the Site Plan Review.
Ms. Murphy also offered to help, Mr. R. Miller said.
She (Ms. Murphy) made comments on Site Plan and Subdivisions before but that was maybe six or seven years ago. It was around the time the Board was working on the Master Plan. Mr. Dalessio said he would look back and see if he could find it her notes.
Mr. Dalessio said, “It depends on where you want to take all this. There’s been talk of flexible zoning. An example of flexible zoning would be if you have a regulation where you have 30 percent green space, but the applicant doesn’t or can’t fit it into the plan. The applicant has to give up something if the project is going to be allowed.
Third-party review has also been discussed. Mr. Dalessio said, “I’ve always supported having an independent person looking at what we’re doing.”
Mr. Dalessio said you have to choose one thing to get accomplished because there is just not enough time in a year to work on four or five issues at the same time. Board members only have an hour at a meeting to devote to an issue and at a monthly workshop an hour or two more. But there are only 12 months a year that you are going to be having workshops so that limits you to a specific amount of time and there’s not time to handle more than one, or possibly two, issues.
If you’re trying to accomplish big rewrites, it just not going to happen. Individually. You can write something, but you still have to decide on things communally.
“That’s why you have to have outside eyes on whatever needs to be done,” Mr. Potter said. They suggest what needs to be done, and we take a look at it.
Mr. Perron asked if it was due Monday, Mr. R. Miller said “yes.” Mr. Dalessio said, “ It’s not going to happen. You have to do it right or otherwise you’re not going to get the grant.”
It was finally decided to call Ms. Murphy and say Walpole was not interested at this time but ask Ms. Murphy to go over the Site Plan Review and make comments and then ask her join the group at a workshop meeting. .