Planning Board Workshop Meeting Minutes – 4/26/16

Walpole Planning Board

Town Hall

April 26, 2016

 Workshop Minutes


Presiding: Robert Miller (Vice-Chair), Jason Perron, Dennis Marcom , James Aldrich, Jeff White. Alternates: Joanna Andros. Absent: Jeffrey Miller (Chair), Steve Dalessio (Selectboard Representative), Ed Potter (Alternate).

Recording:  Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the regular May 2016 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.

Meeting Opened: Mr. R. Miller  called the meeting to order at 7 pm.

Application process: The board will receive all pertinent information about an application before the meeting. Mr. R. Miller said he had been on the board for 21 years and this was the first time he had seen the application and checklist before the meeting. These are important documents, Mr. Miller said, and it gave him time to think about what was in the application prior to the meeting.

Mr. Aldrich, Mr. Marcom  and Mr. Perron said the same thing and they agreed that they wanted this practice to continue. It was thought that taking a closer look at the checklist may be a good topic for a workshop, as well as the procedure for waiving an item on the checklist. 

Southwest Regional Planning Workshop: Mr. R. Miller signed up to attend the meeting on April 27, that the Southwest Regional Planning Commission was hosting about 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 Walpole Zoning Ordinance regarding 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.

The second topic is about sign ordinances. This was a NH 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.

Mr. R.  Miller will report back to the board about what was discussed at the meeting.

Town Attorney: When can the Planning Board have the town attorney at a meeting? Must a motion be made at a meeting and voted on? Can the board make a list of questions to ask the attorney and have him answer them? If an applicant or an abutter opposing an applicant has an attorney at a public hearing and a board member wants an explanation about what the attorney means, what should a board member do? 

Solar panels and storage containers: The secretary recently has had inquiries about solar panels regulations. The town has no regulations regarding solar panels with the exception of boundary setbacks and getting a building permit? Should it? If so what should the regulations be. 

How many storage units on someone’s property is too many? Acworth had this question on their warrant this year. Could this happen in Walpole? Perhaps the board needs to look at this further. 

These are two items which may come up in the future. Board members asked Mr. R. Miller to check with Ms. Lisa Murphy of SWRPC and ask if there are any towns who have solar and storage unit regulations and what those regulations say.

How much time does the board have to review an application? According to “The Planning Board of New Hampshire: Handbook for Local Officials,” a complex applicant can take many meetings for the board to review. In addition, an applicant may have difficulty completing requirements set by the planning board. In either case, the 65-day period for the planning board to vote on an application may be extended in one of the following ways as provided in RSA 676:4,I (I).

The applicant and the board can agree to an extension for a set period of time. 

The applicant and board can agree to halt the running of the review for a set period of time i.e.     “stop the clock,” until necessary material is prepared and submitted.

The planning board can request an extension of time from the board of selectmen or town/city     council. Such an extension cannot exceed one additional 90-day period.

Any extension of time or delay in the process should be carefully documented in the records of the planning board and in writing to the applicant.

Lighting: One member asked about lighting ordinances. Then he asked about the new Hubbard Park sign and said the lighting was shining upward. Another complaint was that the Jiffy Mart has also one light shining upward.

New Handbook: Mr. R. Miller, at one point in the meeting, referred to a 2015 handbook about RSAs and regulations that planning board members could refer to. Mr. Aldrich asked about it and  Miller said there was a box of them in the selectman’s office. The secretary will get them and distribute them at the next meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Marilou Blaine

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