Town of Walpole
Planning Board Minutes
May 9, 2017
Presiding: Robert Miller, Vice-Chair, James Aldrich, Secretary, Dennis Marcom, Jason Perron, Jeff White, Cheryl Mayberry, Selectboard Representative. Alternates: Ed Potter, Joanna Andros. Absent: Jeff Miller, Chair.
Recording: Marilou Blaine, Recording Secretary. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the June Meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions
Meeting Opened: Mr. R. Miller called the meeting to order at 7 pm.
Roll Call: Mr. J. Miller was absent so Alternate Ed Potter was asked to fill his place.
Minutes: Mr. Marcom made a motion to approve the minutes of the regular Planning Board’s April meeting, as well as the workshop meeting on April 25, as written. The motion was seconded and approved by the entire Board.
Public Hearing: Mascoma Savings Bank, Map 20, Lot 47. Lot Line Adjustment and Site Plan Review. Annex a 28-by-40 foot parcel of land in back of the bank formerly owned by the Walpole Foundation. Construct a drive-up facility with two lanes with roof structure for an ATM and tube-teller access. It will also extend the street porch so it is 6 feet wide and 45 feet long, make interior renovations, change the exterior siding and windows.
Mr. David Laurin was the architect on the project. Mr. Glen Valentine represented Mascoma Savings Bank.
Mr. Laurin said the land for the lot line adjustment is 28 feet by 40 feet and acquired from the Walpole Foundation. A letter from the lawyer for the Walpole Foundation said the Foundation supported the project.
The entrance to the drive-thru is one way from Main Street. There’s a lane for the drive-thru, a bypass lane and the current head-in parking spaces are being changed to parallel parking spaces. The bypass lane is for anyone who wants to go to the rear of the property. The drive-thru is 22 by 20 feet.
There will be two lanes at the corner of the building: one for a tube-teller and one for an ATM. The canopy over the lanes is 14 feet high, high enough for emergency vehicles. Drivers can exit to Westminster Street or go right to exit further down on Main Street. There will be a landscaped island from the drive-thru to Jake’s Variety Store. There will also be space between the drive-ups and Jake’s for snow removal.
Mr. R. Miller asked Mr. Laurin how he envisioned the flow of traffic. Mr. Laurin said it’s one way from Main Street and you can go through the drive-thru lane and you can either continue on and exit on Westminster Street or exit to the right.
Mr. Valentine said they had a traffic study done, saying the Foundation was very interested in improving traffic flow. Mr. R. Miller said that is a very busy area. After Mr. Laurin’s and Mr. Valentine’s statement, Mr. Miller asked the Board if they were satisfied. There were nods of heads that they were.
Mr. Aldrich asked if the current island behind Jake’s will be removed. Mr. Laurin said yes. The plan is to add a larger island but leave a pathway for snow removal.
Mr. Marcom asked if there was enough room for all this. Mr. Laurin said yes, “we made sure there was space for the drive-thru lanes. The reason for the lot line adjustment was so we could maintain setbacks for the bank in the back.”
Mr. Perron wanted to know what the distance was from the old drive-thru to the property line and the new one. The old drive-thru had 21 feet and the new one is 20 feet.
The landscape plan is to create some green space. So the maple tree that exists on Westminster Street will be replanted in the island as well as as some flowering plants so there will be color pretty much from spring through fall. Thee will be a new sidewalk up to the building.
The canopy over both drive-thru lanes will be lighted with recessed LED lighting. Recessed LED lighting will also be under the porch. It will have a photo sensor that turns the lights on at dusk. Mr. R. Miller asked about lamp posts and Mr. Laurin said that there will not be any.
The porch will be extended to the width of the building with some columns. Mr. Valentine said that many homes in Walpole had that feature and this would be in keeping with that style in the village. There is an emergency exit in the back of the building.
There would also be inside alterations. Would you like to elaborate? Mr. R. Miller asked. Mr. Laurin said the usual, a change in teller lanes. Mr. Perron said he was asking because of the fire code and Mr. Laurin said it would be followed. He also said the bank would be using the entire building.
Mr. R. Miller asked if there were any comments from the audience. Ms. Myra Mansouri said was she opposed to the expansion. That area is extraordinarily congested, Ms. Mansouri said. The school buses drop kids off there at about 4 in the afternoon.
Mr. R. Miller asked where the buses dropped off students. Ms. Mansouri said school buses drive in from Main Street and drop the students off in the back.
Ms. Mansouri continued that on Old Main Street there is snow and the people who park usually park 2 to 3 feet from the snow bank. In addition drivers come around that corner going very fast. There are a lot of old people that walk in town and having a drive-thru and adding more cars was not a good idea.
Mr. Laurin said he’d like to think the plan was improving traffic flow because it was getting the back-up off of Main Street.
She said the only time there is back-up is on Saturday mornings when the bank is closed. If the bank were open on Saturdays 8 until noon, there wouldn’t be the back-up into Main Street that is happening now. She said she thought the project was a big mistake.
Mr. R. Miller asked if there were any other comments. There being none he closed the Public Hearing.
Mr. Marcom made a motion to approve the plans as presented. The motion was seconded and the Board voted unanimously in favor of the plan.
Public Hearing: Complete Streets policy addresses Walpole’s transportation system taking into account safe access and mobility for all users, in that bicyclists, motorists, public transportation users, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and cross a street. The mission at the Public Hearing was to recommend or not to recommend this policy to the Selectboard.
Ms. Mari Brunner and Ms. Liz Kelly, technicians with Southwest Regional Planning Commission, have been working with the Planning Board for several months. Basically Complete Streets are designs of streets that are safe for everyone, Ms. Kelly said. It’s a relatively simple concept.
It has been found that certain configurations and scenarios of streets can provide ideal access for bicyclists as well as cars and trucks and agricultural vehicles. It can also be a concept for constructing, designing and maintaining roads so that they accommodate all modes of transportation effectively.
Complete Streets also varies in how streets look. One photo shows a painted shoulder line, another photo showed a bike lane and the third showed a sidewalk and a crosswalk. These samples would be more applicable for certain streets than others, Ms. Kelly said. For example, you wouldn’t see example number three on a rural road, but you might see a shoulder line that would provide a safe place for a pedestrian. The approach is tactical and affordable that can be implemented incrementally. The partnership with the town is both short-term and long-term.
Some of the benefits of Complete Streets is to provide safety for all users. Another benefit is increased mobility and a more friendly environment.
After a few minutes of presentation, Mr. Bob Kimball asked what was it going to do for Walpole. Are you changing the streets in Walpole? It’s impractical in our village to add something like a bicycle path. You can hardly get two cars down Main Streets. Where are you going to put a bike path?
Ms. Brunner said some of the streets in Walpole are already okay. You have crosswalks and sidewalks, so it’s safe to walk.
Mr. Perron said that SWRPC was coming to the Board with some guidance as we go forward and transportation projects come up. The Board incorporates these goals and ideals where it’s practical and makes sense. We have some of it here already.
Mr. Perron said that there is an area already marked that might serve as a bicycle lane that goes from Elm Street to the school. There already is a white line a little distance from the sidewalk that acts as a buffer. One of the things we hear is that it doesn’t go down to the Mill Pond or where RN Johnson’s was and where there are a lot of kids. Complete Streets gives us some guidance as we go forward. It’s nonbinding.
Ms. Andros said another area discussed was from the school down to the Mill Pond. There is no designated area where children can walk home from school or walk safely. One of the things that has been discussed is having a painted line designated for walkers. It would enhance the safety of pedestrians, Mr. R. Miller said.
Mr. Marcom said it is not like a plan that we change downtown Walpole, but putting bike signage on the line from Elm Street to the school would designate that as a bike lane. Another idea would be to have a crosswalk from the florist across Main Street. The Board isn’t talking about tearing up streets.
Mr. Kimball said he was talking about his tax dollars. There is no way you are going to get a bike lane from the school and go north. Even if you put a bike lane there, the width of the road is narrow there and you can barely get one truck passing in one lane and one in another. There’s just no room.
Mr. Marcom said there are plenty of things we won’t do. We’re just keeping an eye out for something might work and make progress.
Mr. R. Miller said, “If it’s not practical or counterproductive, I would say it would not be done.”
Ms. Brunner said this is very flexible. It’s a change to enhance the transportation options for everyone. The policy is nonbinding. It formalizes the town’s intent. It is not a mandate. It’s a guide to implementation.
Mr. R. Miller asked if there were any further questions? There being none, Mr. Perron made a motion to recommend the Complete Streets program to the Selectboard. The motion was seconded and the Board passed the motion unanimously.
Informational meeting from Revision Energy, which is installing solar panels for Chamberlain Machine on Route 12.
Mr. Steve Dzubak explained that he was from Revision Energy in Brentwood, NH. Revision Energy is a solar installation company that works mainly in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Mr. Dzubak said he was not there to ask for a variance or setback requirements. He was there to explain what was happening at Chamberlain Machine off of Route 12. Mr. Dzubak repeated all setback requirements were within zoning ordinance requirements.
The solar panel installation is in back of building between the Chamberlain Machine building and the Connecticut River. It is a ground solar system driven into the earth. It faces south and the immediate property owner is Bensonwood to the north and west corners of the Chamberlain property.
There will be four panels mounted on posts that are driven 71/2 feet into the ground. The total of the four solar panels are 167 long feet by 103 feet wide. The DC output of the system is 130.
Mr. R. Miller asked if there was anyone abutting the property. Mr. Dzubak mentioned Bensonwood as the immediate abutter to the two back corners which would be north and west.
Mr. Aldrich asked if the shaded area on the map that the Board had was where the panels would be located. Mr. Dzubak said yes and the area was 37 feet from the north side of the property and 28 feet on the west side. Mr. Perron ask about the number of racks and also about the poles in the earth. Mr. Dzubak said four racks would be on cement poles driven down 71/2 feet into the ground. Racks go on top of that.
How high off the ground? Mr. R. Miller asked. Mr. Dzubak said from the bottom edge 36 inches. He said that the company has found this to be the ideal height. It far enough off the ground so the snow doesn’t impact the racks and low enough so the wind doesn’t get underneath and affect the structure. The back side is about 11 feet. The length of the four racks totals 167 feet.
How long is the back of the Chamberlain building? Mr. R. Miller asked. Mr Dzubak said the solar installation is going to be very close to matching the building’s foundation.
Mr. Marcom asked about the Malnati’s being abutters. The concern is with the northwest corner, Mr. Dzubak said.
After a question from the Board, Mr. Dzubak said the life expectancy is 30 to 40 years. There is zero maintenance on the structure. He added that the company was in the process of getting a building permit.
Do you manufacture the parts? Mr. R. Miller asked. There are three parties that make up the major components to the solar panels. The racking is made in Cincinnati. The modules are from a German-owned company that has them manufactured in Indonesia and the converters, the main electrical component, are from an Israeli-owned company.
Mr. Miller and the Board thanked Mr. Dzubak for coming to explain the large solar project that was happening at Chamberlain Machine. It is always good to know what is happening in the community.
Request for a Public Hearing: Glenn and Laura Madden, 74 Hayes Road, Subdivision, Map 13, Lot 3-1. Subdivide 59 acres.
No one showed up for the subdivision.
Mr. R. Miller reminded the Board of the workshop meeting on May 23 at 7 pm.
Mr. Aldrich made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Marcom seconded and the motion was approved by the Board.