Walpole Zoning Board of Adjustment
Minutes: April 20, 2016
Walpole Town Hall
Present: Board Members: Chair Myra Mansouri, Vice-Chair Jan Galloway Leclerc, Mary Therese Lester, Ernie Vose Clerk, Bob Anderson. Absent: Judy Trow.
Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the May 2016 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Roll Call: Ms. Mansouri called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm. There was a full board present.
Minutes of March: Corrections were made to the initial spelling of Mr. Crouse’s name and Mr. Jacks, which was changed to Mr. Franks. On page 2, paragraph 7 “off of” large lots was added and on page 5 stricter was changed to less strict. On page 3, call should be changed to the past tense and facilitate is changed to necessitate, page 6 has added “to consider,” line 1. Ms. Vose made a motion to accept the minutes as corrected. Mr. Anderson seconded the motion and the motion was unanimously approved by the Board.
New Business: Mr. Eric Frink, 131 Merriam Rd. has applied for a Federal Firearms License. He was at the meeting at the request of Mr. Terry Soucy, an investigator for the Bureau of Firearms, Alcohol and Tobacco.
Mr. Frink has applied for a Federal Firearms License. He said he is required to have an address in order to get the license. He said he would sell only to friends and family, not have a storefront and not have an inventory.
Ms. Mansouri asked how does he get the firearms. He said he orders them through wholesalers. Then how do you receive the firearms? Ms. Mansouri asked. He answered UPS. She asked what would happen if he were not at his address when the UPS person delivered the firearms. He said he supposed that a UPS man would leave them at his home. Ms. Mansouri said then someone walking by could pick up the package. He said, “yes in theory.”
Ms. Lester asked why couldn’t he pick up the firearm package at the local post office. Mr. Frink said US mail will accept firearms, but many postmasters don’t want to deal with them.
Ms. Lester asked about the process of getting of license. Mr. Frink said Mr. Soucy came to his house and went over a lot of rules.
Ms. Mansouri asked if he worked outside of the home. Mr. Frink said yes. She said she didn’t feel comfortable about this. She would like to find out if Mr. Frink was required to sign for the packages he received and if the post office would accept the packages. “I don’t know the rules and regulations,” she said.
Mr. Anderson said he understands from reading about another person with a FFL license that you have to some regular business hours. Mr. Frink said that was correct.
Ms. Mansouri asked where would he store these guns. Mr. Frink said in a locked gun case with an alarm.
Mr. Anderson asked Mr. Frink if he would do repairs. Mr. Frink said no. Mr. Anderson said then this a retail business – you buy from a wholesaler and then sell to someone else. Mr. Frink agreed.
Mr. Anderson asked what district he was in and where he lived. It was rural/agricultural and the last hous at the end of Merriam Road.
Mr. Anderson asked if he was going to sell ammunition. He said yes. Mr. Anderson asked to whom he would sell the ammunition to. Mr. Frink said to the people who buy the guns. He has no intention of having 10, 15 people coming to his house on weekends for ammunition. “If I have to, I’ll bring it to work and get it to the buyers that way.”
Ms. Lester asked if he were going to advertise. Mr. Frink said no.
Mr. Vose asked him why he was doing this. He said it was worth doing it for the money he would save.
Mr. Anderson then asked Mr. Frink if he were granted a special exception would he feel comfortable if some limits were placed on the exception such as number of guns he sold over a course of a month or a year. Mr. Frink said he would be alright with those conditions.
Mr. Vose said he was debating where or not Mr. Frink should have a special exception, but considering the products he’s handling, he thought he should have a special exception.
“I can’t do this without calling it a business,” Mr. Frink said.
Ms. Mansouri said this was not like the typical at-home business that a dressmaker or lawyer might have in their homes. Mr. Anderson said the ordinances usually are relegated toward services, but this is a retail business in a home. Ms. Leclerc said there were similar situations for automobiles – one sale, one at a time.
Ms. Mansouri explained that a special exception would require a public hearing, notifying abutters, a fee for the application and $8 for each abutter. She asked Mr. Frink if he was willing to go forward. He said yes.
Mr. Vose said if we are going to have a public hearing, the board will need a copy of the rules that he has to abide by. Mr. Frink said there were plenty.
Mr. Anderson said he assumed he needed a permit from the Chief of Police. Mr. Frink said he had to have a special license. Mr. Anderson asked what kind of guns he was going to sell. He said rifles. He asked about machine guns. Mr. Frink said that needs a special license. His license must be renewed every three years. He had to have a background check from the FBI and state police. He has to keep files on the people to whom he sells a firearm and he has to do a background check on that person. He also has to keep a record of those who are denied purchasing a firearm. He has to keep the files for 20 years.
Mr. Anderson said he wanted to make it clear that if he asked for a special exception that there could be some restrictions such as hours of operation and the number of sales per month, no machine guns.
Selectman Steve Dalessio was in the audience and he interjected that there are a number of people in Walpole who already have a Federal Firearms License. He’s not sure if there has been a change in the law about how one gets a license today, but in the past this was a matter for the local police chief.
Mr. Vose said this is going to need a recommendation from the Planning Board. He read Zoning Ordinance Article VIII Part C 1 “ Industrial, manufacturing and commercial operation 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:
ii) the proposed use is appropriate and consistent with the Town’s Master Plan.”
Ms. Leclerc said that he will have to go to the Planning Board and see if his project conforms with the town’s Master Plan. Ms. Leclerc made a motion to hold a Public Hearing for a Special Exception. Ms. Lester seconded the motion. The hearing will be held contingent on his getting approval or a recommendation from the Planning Board.
Mr. Ben Northcott, storage and repairs of large machinery off 15 Saw Mill Road. Mr. Ben Northcott was at the meeting to request a special exception to operate a storage and repair shop at property that he is buying at 15 Saw Mill Lane. Mr. Northcott said Charlie Welch used to operate a saw mill at the location and it was previously owned by Rita Simonds. He’s buying all of the 100 acres although it’s been subdivided into three lots. He said there were several structures on the entire 100 acres – a couple of barns, a house he intends to rent and rental property on one of the subdivided lots. He wants to use the barns for storage and repair of equipment and some of the equipment will be stored covered outside. He is one-half of the Fuzzy Brothers, which is an excavation business.
Mr. Northcott said there is a hay field and pasture separating the barn where he plans to store and repair equipment, from the road. The barn is about 180 to 200 feet from the road. He said if the board felt he needed visibility fencing in front of the area he was willing to do that.
The questions of the illegal apartment was discussed. Mr. Northcott said that since the property has been divided there was now one lot for a house and one lot for the apartment. Ms. Mansouri asked about road frontage. Mr. Northcott said the lot with the apartment has 200 to 250 feet road frontage. Mr. Dalessio asked about another structure on the property. Mr. Northcott said their was a little camp up on the hill.
Mr. Vose asked about the cabin where Charlie Welch lived. Mr. Northcott said that there was a log cabin that now belongs to Charlie Welch Jr. and that’s on a separate 5- or-6-acre lot and is not part of the property he was buying. There’s a right of way to the property.
He added that there would be four to five people working on repairs during the winter months and during the summer months probably no one. He suggested a chain link fence, with plastic strips and putting plants in front of the fence to make it look better.
Ms. Mansouri asked what the highest piece of equipment was. He didn’t exactly know but the intention was to use the larger barn, enter from the back of the barn and away from the road, take down the stalls and the second floor of the barn. The barn was once used for chickens.
There was some discussion about the process of where to go first but it was finally decided that Mr. Northcott was told he would go to the next Planning Board meeting for a Site Plan Review and request a Public Hearing in May and tell them he was going to have to get a special exception from the ZBA So Mr. Vose suggested he come back for a Public Hearing to be held in June. Mr. Vose made a motion to hold a Public Hearing in June. Mr. Anderson seconded the motion and the motion passed.
Mr. Northcott asked if he was allowed to move some lumber on the property into one of the barns before having the Public Hearing. The board said yes.
Signage for the Saving Bank of Walpole, 68 Ames Plaza Lane: Kathy Hanks was representing the bank. She said that the bank was requesting a special exception for a double-sided, free-standing sign at the bank in Ames Plaza. The bank has been there about 30 years. She said feedback from customers was that the bank was difficult to find. The sign would face Route 12 and be placed to the right of the generator enclosure and close to the parking lot. The State of NH highway department has approved the proposed location for right-of-way requirements.
The sign would be lit using 2 rows of small LED lights installed under a canopy so the light shines down on the sign and not towards Route 12 or neighbors. In addition, the lighting will be on a timer to shut the lights off at 9 pm every night to coincide with the rest of the Plaza lights. The metal tubing is 12 feet high, but Ms. Hanks did not have the actual size of the sign. Mr Vose said that a 32-square foot sign is the limit. Looking at the drawing it was estimated the sign would be six square feet, larger than the ordinance permits.
The sign ordinance says in Article VI Part D-6 states that in Commercial Districts “signs shall be permitted no larger than thirty-two (32) square feet. Signs shall be placed not less than sixty (60) feet from the traveled roadway and not less than one hundred (100) feet from another sign.”
Board members asked how far the new sign is from the large Plaza sign. Ms. Hanks was unsure. She was also unsure of the distance of the sign on the bank building to the new sign. Ms. Lester asked if there was any reason the bank was not on the Plaza sign. Ms. Hanks didn’t know.
Mr. Anderson was concerned about the height of the sign – that it would be blocking the Plaza sign. Ms. Mansouri said this is going to be facing Route 12. It would be perpendicular to the Plaza sign, It won’t block the Ames sign.
However, in a picture of a sign on Marlborough Street the sign was perpendicular to the road, so there was question of whether it would face Route 12 or be perpendicular to Route 12.
Ms. Hanks will be back next month for a Public Hearing for a variance, because the sign will be larger than allowed. She was asked to bring a copy of the letter from the state, find out the the distances from both the Plaza and bank sign and the direction the sign would be facing.
Ms. Leclerc made a motion to hold a Public Hearing for a variance next month if needed, Ms. Lester seconded the motion and the board approved the motion. If Ms. Hanks finds out the sign is not over-sized and is within the 100-foot threshold of distances from other signs, she does not need a Public Hearing but needs to come back with the sign size and the distances from other signs and the letter from the state.
Signage for Walpole Interiors: Walpole Interiors will replace the Fall Mountain Furniture Building sign, which was previously where the Whitcomb office building had their sign, said Clare Makibbin, who was requesting a replacement for the sign that is 11 feet wide and 3.3 feet high and 35 feet from Route 12. Walpole Interiors is located across from Aubuchons on the corner of Route 12 and Route 123.
Ms. Makibbin said the sign will be thinner but in the exact same space as the other sign. While the zoning ordinance for signage now states the maximum size of a sign be 32-square feet, because of the pre-existing condition, the board allowed her to put a new sign in the footprint of the old sign. Lights will be in the same place and timed, coming on at dusk and going off at 10 pm.
The board asked Ms. Makibbin to fill out the form and take a picture of the new sign and get it to the secretary of the board for the file.
Besides selling furniture, Walpole Interiors, Ms. Makibbin said, will eventually add an upholstery service, free interior design service and maybe have a cafe in September.
Zoning Board business: Ms. Mansouri reminded the board that on April 27, Southwest Regional Planning Commission will host an informational workshop on recent developments that may impact communities. The first is about Accessory Dwelling Units that Gov. Maggie Hassan signed this spring. The bill requires that all municipalities must allow, in all districts that permit single-family residences, one attached unit by right, special exception or conditional permit.
The second topic is about sign ordinances. Ms. Mansouri said this was a Supreme Court decision that says language on a sign cannot be regulated by municipalities. The meeting will be held at the Historical Society of Cheshire Count, 246 Main Street in Keene at 6:30 pm.
There were different interpretations of the accessory building bill.
Mr. Anderson said the bill outlined a whole lot of things that must be added to dwelling units that are attached. If you do nothing, the town can have an optional regulation for detached housing.
Ms. Mansouri said we already have an ordinance and it is optional to add to it.
The Walpole Zoning Ordinance about accessory buildings is Article XVII A. Accessory Building means a building subordinate to the main building on the lot and used for purposes customarily incidental to those of the main building. A dwelling means a building of common foundation. A one-or-two-family dwelling will share the same foundation per lot.
Mr. Dalessio said the bill uses the word “attached,” and it does not have the word foundation.
Ms. Mansouri said, we can’t be less strict than the state, but we can be more.
Ms. Leclerc said that the provision for a foundation was added because people were doing really odd things to have a structure attached to a barn or a garage. Mr. Vose added like having a 100-foot greenhouse attached. Ms. Mansouri said then there were subdivisions without the proper amount of frontage.
Ms. Lester asked what if someone questioned our regulation not being what the state says. Ms. Mansouri said they live in the town and this is the local ordinance..
Ordinances: Ms. Mansouri said she would like the board to rewrite the junkyard ordinance and the one about streets that have changed names such as Hitchcock Road being changed to Alstead Center Road. These would be voted on next March.
The secretary will send copies to the board of junkyard ordinances from several towns and one from the NH Municipal Association to see how ordinance are worded and how they would like the new ordinance to be worded.
Site Walk of Crouse and Enokido property: The board choose two dates for the site walk – Thursday, May 12 or Friday, May 13 at 3 pm. Everyone will meet at the property at 192 March Hill Road. It is after the French Road sign and on the right-hand side of the road. The secretary will check with Mr. Crouse to see which date suits him.
Matrix: The board tabled discussion of the Matrix until Ms. Trow was present.