Planning Board Workshop Meeting Minutes – 8/23/16

Walpole Planning Board Workshop Meeting

Town Hall

August 23, 2016 Minutes

7 pm


Present: Chair Jeff Miller, Vice-Chair Robert Miller, Jason Perron, Dennis Marcom, Jeff White. Alternates: Ed Potter, Joanna Andros. Absent: James Aldrich, Steve Dalessio. Zoning Board: Myra Mansouri, Jan Leclerc and Bob Anderson.


In September 2015, the NH General Court amended a subdivision regulation dealing with Accessory Dwelling Units. Walpole’s zoning ordinance already complies with the new regulations, but the issue has stirred a large concern among some residents. Maybe it’s due to a recent decision from the Zoning Board regarding a detached dwelling unit. Maybe there’s more of an interest in older people wishing to stay in their homes for a longer period of time. Maybe the people of Walpole want something different.

In anticipation of the meeting, Selectman Steve Dalessio prepared a draft of what a new ordinance might look like. The draft was simply a jumping off place to start the discussion.

The discussion at the workshop covered everything from density to definitions of a dwelling and building. Nothing was decided and it should be remembered that this a work in progress and the wording of every part of the ordinance is extremely important.

Here are some things that were discussed:

Density: An example of this problem was brought up when one person spoke about one residence in the village that started out as a single-family residence and over a period of time now has three apartments with a potential for a barn being converted into two more apartments. What was once a home to one family is now a home to several families or individuals, each with their own cars. Besides all the people, there are lots of cars and not enough parking. So now there are cars spilling over onto the street. That’s a density problem.

The density in the village also impacts water and sewer compared to the country where certain size septic systems are required by law depending on the number of bedrooms.

So, should there be a minimum amount of acreage where detached accessory buildings are allowed? The draft said 3 acres, but some argued it should be five or more. But would it be unfair to limit these building in a particular district, asked another?

What’s the difference between a building that’s attached or detached? What’s to prevent a detached accessory unit that was intended for a caregiver or visitation space for extended family from becoming rental income?

What should the regulations be for a detached accessory unit? Should a detached accessory unit limit it to a bedroom and bath and not a kitchen? Can the accessory unit be rented? Suppose I just want a place for my extended family and friends to visit once in a while? What do I call that space? What can be allowed in that space? What about a caregiver? Who controls who lives there? How do you enforce it?

If someone has 5 acres or more, should the person subdivide rather than keeping two buildings on one lot? How many accessory units could you put one five-acre lot?

What is a dwelling? Is it a place where a person or people live? If there were two buildings on one lot what kind of relationship should there be between the people sleeping in both places?

Should there be a family tie or can it be, or does it have to be a commercial relationship?

Suppose there were no kitchen facilities – no refrigerator etc. – just a bedroom and bathroom. Is this a dwelling? But who is going to check to see that it doesn’t have a microwave or a college-size refrigerator. Would that now make it a dwelling?

Another person thought the solution to density would be limiting it to two unrelated people living in a detached accessory building.

But, some warned, the town has to be careful and figure out the reason for a detached accessory building. Is it to create more space to be rented?

And when it comes to apartment dwellers, do they have a stake in the community? Do they have an interest on what affects the town, how it grows? Just filling property with people isn’t the answer, another said.

Some people want to age in place, want space for friends and family to visit. Some things you can do right now. Some you can’t. That person thought there was a need for detached accessory units.

There is “in town” and “out of town.” In town there is no space to build except maybe over a garage.

Someone else said that a dwelling is not a guest house or another bedroom in another building. It’s a place that is supportive of the family in the main house. It supports the main dwelling.

Another had a concern that there is no way to control who is living there. It may start out as a place for grandparents or grown children but it may change down the road.

It depends on size of lot and what you can put on it, another said. In town it is much more obvious when it is getting crowded, for example, too many cars in a yard. Out in the country, you may not even see the accessory building because of the size of the lot. No one’s going to see that. It won’t even be noticed.

It may be how you define it. It could be part of the family function. A space to have family for an extended period of time. It’s family support.

How large should ADUs be. You can require an ADU to be have one bedroom., but, by law, it cannot be less than 759 square feet.

You can’t limit it to family only but you can limit it by putting a number of how many people can live there.

A lot of the regulations are already in place, such as septic and building requirements that take into consideration terrain, said one board member. We don’t need to over regulate this.

You can see this is a complicated issue. This is only the beginning. Part of the charm of Walpole is its size. Over the last 60 years the population has increased by only 800 to 900.

There will be further discussion on this topic. The draft was a starting place. Here it is.

One Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) shall be allowed in all zoning districts that permit single-family dwellings and on any parcel where only one existing, legally conforming single family dwelling already exists. The following requirements apply:

  1. The minimum lot size shall be 3.0 Acres and no change in frontage, or setbacks shall be required beyond what would be required for a single-family dwelling without ADU.
  2. The minimum area for an Accessory Dwelling Unit may not be less than 400 square feet nor more than the greater of 750 square feet or 30% of the gross living area of the principal unit, not including unfinished spaces such as but not limited to unfinished attics or unfinished basements.
  3. No more than Three (3) bedrooms may be permitted in an Accessory Dwelling Unit.
  4. Properties that are grandfathered to current zoning requirements and are considered non- conforming shall be exempt from the lot requirements set forth (A) and minimum building size   shall be 200 square feet.
  5. The Accessory Dwelling Unit may be within or attached to the principal dwelling unit or may be within separate detached building on the property (such as a garage or barn).
  6. Unless otherwise provided for herein, all existing regulations applicable to single-family dwellings shall also apply to the combination of a principal dwelling unit and an accessory dwelling unit, including standards for maximum occupancy per bedroom consistent with policy adopted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  7. For an ADU that is located in the same building as the primary dwelling unit, an interior door shall be provided between the principal dwelling unit and the accessory dwelling unit, but there is no requirement that the interior door shall remain unlocked.
  8. Adequate provisions for water supply and sewage disposal for the accessory dwelling unit in accordance with RSA 485-A:38 shall be demonstrated by the applicant, but separate systems, including but not limited to plumbing, heating, electrical and sanitary disposal systems, are not required for the principal and accessory dwelling units provided that occupants of both units have access to the electrical panel and circuit breakers serving their respective units.
  9. When converting an existing structure or a portion of an existing structure to an ADU or constructing a new addition or detached structure to create an ADU, compliance with applicable sections of the state fire code and state building code shall be required.
  10. All applications to create an accessory dwelling unit shall demonstrate to the Zoning Board of Adjustment that the property has ample parking for both the principal unit and ADU.
  11. When the creation of an ADU requires an addition to or modification of the exterior of the existing single family home or existing detached structure, or the creation of a new detached structure, the architectural design and details to be used shall be aesthetically compatible with and maintain an aesthetic continuity with the principal dwelling unit as a single-family dwelling.
  12. An addition to or exterior modification of an existing single family home or detached structure shall be designed to match the architectural style, detail, and materials of the existing structure.
  13. When constructing a new detached structure to accommodate an ADU, the exterior design may either reflect the architectural style, detail, and materials of the existing single family structure, or it may reflect the architectural style, details and materials that are commonly found in detached accessory structures associated with a single family dwelling, such as a barn, or a garage with apartment over.
  14. The Planning Board under Minor Site Plan review shall be responsible for reviewing and evaluating architectural designs for compatibility prior to issuance of a building permit by the Select Board.
  15. The owner of the property shall occupy either the principal dwelling unit or the accessory dwelling unit as their “Principal Place of Residence.” Whichever dwelling unit is not the property owner’s principal place of residence may be rented to a person(s) unrelated to the property owner .
  16. The owner shall demonstrate to the Select Board that one of the units is his or her “Principal Place of Residence” prior to issuance of a Building Permit by the Select Board for the             accessory dwelling unit.
  17. The term “Principal Place of Residence” for purposes of determining owner occupancy shall mean the location where the property owner is domiciled and has a place of abode, and the location where the property owner has, through all of his or her actions, demonstrated a current intent to designate said residence as his or her principal place of physical presence.  Such an intent on the part of the property owner is evidenced by, among other things, his or her voter’s registration, vehicle registration, driver’s license, or the placement of his or her children in local public schools. Any temporary lapse of owner occupancy in the primary residence caused by the death of a property owner shall be permitted for a reasonable period of administration.
  18. The property owner shall submit to the Select Board a signed and notarized “memorandum of adequate notice”, to be recorded at the registry of deeds at the applicant’s expense. The notice shall identify the property on which the accessory dwelling unit is located by source deed, and serve as a notice to successor owners that the accessory dwelling unit is subject to the provisions of this section of the zoning ordinance, and that owner occupancy of one of the two units is required by this subsection. This notice shall be recorded upon issuance of a Building Permit. If the owner of the property is a trust, the term “property owner” shall mean the creator or beneficiary of the trust. If the owner of the property is a corporation, the term “property owner” shall mean the principal stockholder.


To be continued….


Respectfully submitted,

Marilou Blaine


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