Zoning Board Meeting Minutes – 1/19/17

Zoning Board of Adjustment

Town Hall –  Walpole, NH

Wednesday,  July 19, 2017


Present: Board Members: Chair Myra Mansouri, Mary Therese Lester, Tom Murray, Judy Trow.  Alternate: Pauline Barnes. Absent: Vice-Chair Jan Galloway-Leclerc and alternate Ernie Vose.

Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the August 2017 meeting for corrections, additions or omissions.

Roll Call: Ms. Mansouri called the meeting to order at 7:32 pm. A full Board was not present so Alternate Paula Barnes was asked to fill in.


Minutes: Ms. Barnes made a couple of corrections. On page 1,  last paragraph, third line the word place was changed to placed. In the section on Mr. Robert Kimball’s hearing, Mr. Murray made a motion to approve the Special Exception. The next line should read, “the motion was seconded the Board approved the motion.” Ms. Lester made a motion to accept the minutes as corrected. Ms. Trow seconded the motion and it was approved by the Board.


Old Business:

Public Hearing: Special exception for Mascoma Savings Bank, 53 Main Street, Map 20, Lot 47, commercial district  – Signage – Article IV, Part D-6. Sign must be 100 feet from another sign.

Public Hearing: Variance for another sign for Mascoma Saving Bank, 53 Main St., Map 20, Lot 47, commercial district. Proposal to add a 12.5-square-foot sign on new bank drive-up.

Zoning Ordinance IV, Part D-6. More than one 32-square-foot sign is allowed if they were 100 feet apart. The ordinance does not allow signs to be closer than 100 feet except for narrowly defined special exceptions for signs of 6 square feet or less. So any sign not conforming to the Special Exception criteria requires a variance.

Mr. Craig Moore was representing Barlo Signs for Mascoma Bank. Mr. Moore originally represented the bank in May and his colleague Mr. Barnard followed up last month and it was determined at that meeting that not only was a Special Exception required but also a variance was required due to the size of the sign.

The sign that is proposed at the 22-foot-wide teller drive-thru is a 12.5-square-foot sign. It was also determined at the last meeting that the sign have dimmers to change the intensity of the light. The intention of the sign is to draw attention to the sign after hours.

Ms. Barnes said she remembered that the company had also agreed to dim the sign that is already there. Mr. Moore said she was correct and that information has been turned over to the bank.

Ms. Mansouri asked Mr. Moore to read the questions and responses. Mr. Moore asked the Board members if they had seen the sign. They responded in the affirmative.


Special Exception Criteria:

Mascoma Savings Bank: 53 Main St.

  1. Describe the sign – shape dimension – submit a drawing.

Installation of one internally illuminated/Halo-lit wall sign, 12.5 square feet. Mr. Moore explained that Halo-lit means that instead of light projecting forward, it goes backward.

  1. Is it free-standing, on posts, on the building?

It is on the peak of the building/ATM – Teller Drive-Up

  1. Is it 60 feet away from the traveled roadway?

The proposed sign is 118 feet from the traveled roadway.

  1. What is the construction of the sign?

Bea (aluminum, led lighting). BEA means prefinished aluminum.

  1. Where will it be placed?

On the building/ATM – Teller Drive-Up

  1. Why do you think you need this sign?

The proposed sign helps to quickly and safely identify the additional service/after-hour services of the Drive-UP/ATM to both those familiar with Walpole and those who are not.

  1. Will this sign adversely affect any abutting businesses or neighbors?

The Proposed sign is minimal, aesthetically completes and updates this property. Proposed sign includes dimmers, which will diminish light output. Attractive signage does not adversely affect abutting properties, regardless of the use of said properties.

Ms. Barnes asked, Does that mean the dimmers will go on at certain hours or every night? Mr. Moore responded that the dimmers are manual and the sign company recommended that the lights be always be set at the same dimming setting and that way if the bank is ever approached about the light being too bright, they can be further dimmed.

Ms. Mansouri then asked him to read the questions from the variance and the Board will respond to each question individually.


Variance Criteria A from Article IV Part D, (6) (9) to allow the installation of an internally illuminated wall sign which will be greater than 32 square feet and closer than 100 feet from existing signs currently on this property.


Would you say that that type of light is similar to other banks in the area? Ms. Lester asked.

It’s all relative to the community. Mr. Moore responded. He thought there would be less light than elsewhere because many banks are in much larger populated areas and have larger signs. They need electronic signs. In his experience, this fits into the this community.

Mr. asked if there was going to also be a sign saying ATM. Mr Moore said no. It is a two-lane passage, this sign will be in the center of the canopy, and there will be no other sign.

Ms. Mansouri asked if there were any other questions from the Board and then from the public. Being none, she closed the hearing.

Ms. Lester said that all banks have some kind of sign and with some kind of lighting and she thought this was satisfactory.

Ms. Barnes said she took the opposite approach where it is important for light to be low so the bank is not the center of an inhabited area. It is important not to shine light into people’s windows so your solution of the dimmers is a good one.

Motion: Tom Murray said he thought Mr. Moore fit all the descriptions well and he made his case for a Special Exception and Variance very well. He made a motion to approve both. The motion was seconded and approved by the Board.


The Variance questions and answers were: 

The proposed use would not diminish surrounding property values because:

The proposed sign is part of a modification/beautification of an existing business, attractive, clean, clear signage does not diminish surrounding property values.

Denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship to the owner because of the following special circumstances of the property that distinguish it from other properties similarly zoned because:

The sign as proposed identifies the bank drive-up, which is unique to businesses within this zone; motorists unfamiliar with the location, seeking an ATM machine will easily locate the new drive-up. It is reasonable for this business to want to properly identify both their building entrance, and their drive-up, which offers services after bank hours.

Granting the variance would do substantial justice because:

Granting the variance will allow Mascoma Bank to complete its site updates and allow the way-finding public clear access to its destination; the sign is to scale and aesthetically pleasing, and I no way harmful to the public. There is no gain to the public in denying this variance request.

The proposed use would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance because:

The proposal fits into the visual environment of this property;

Promotes balanced growth, as it allows for an updating of an existing business;

Is in character with proper development;

Protect the economic and aesthetic interest of the town: simple design and back-lighting of the sign protects the historic nature/interest of the town;

Provides an aesthetically pleasing and compatible design.


New Business:

Request for a variance: Chad Thurston of Griffin Construction will be in for a variance for a setback for a house at 56 Old Keene Rd., to expand a kitchen at the house. The owner of Griffin Construction, Griffin Dussault, was also at the meeting.

Mr. Thurston showed a design of how the kitchen was to be expanded. The kitchen was already only 60 feet from the center line of the road and the kitchen was to be expanded to the north, not out toward the road. So it was decided that this was not a variance issue but an issue having to do with a building that was already not conforming to the zoning ordinance in Article V, Residential District A and B, Part C, 2 Yard Requirements: “No building may be erected closer than sixty-five (65) feet to the center line of the abutting right-of-way nor closer than twenty (20) feet to any side or rear property line.”

Article X, Non-Conforming Uses states in Part B, “When any existing non-conforming use of land or building has been discontinues for one year the land and building shall thereafter be used only in conformity to this Ordinance, except that the Board of Adjustment, after public hearing may permit the resumption of said non-conforming use.”

There were some questions about the matter. Ms. Lester said the use was the same. Mr. Murray said that the construction was just being extended along the same line to the north and not coming any closer to the road. In the end the Board agreed a Public Hearing was needed. A motion was made, seconded and approved by the Board to have a Public Hearing for a Non-Conforming Use in August.


Criteria For a Special Exception for a Sign

The Board decided at the May meeting that a list of criteria would help people applying for a Special Exception for a sign navigate the Special Exception form.

The secretary made up a list for the Board to consider.


Criteria for a Special Exception for a sign

  1. Describe the sign – size, shape, dimensions. Submit a drawing.
  2. Is it free-standing, on posts, on the building?
  3. Is it 60 feet from a traveled roadway?
  4. What is the construction of the sign?
  5. Where will it be placed?
  6. Why do you think you need this sign?
  7. Will this sign adversely affect any abutting businesses or neighbors?

Ms. Barnes suggested adding “Limitations – does it obscure the view of pedestrian or car traffic?”

Ms. Lester said she didn’t think that was necessary because if the applicant read the ordinance he/she would know that. The rest of the Board agreed with Ms. Lester.

Ms. Mansouri mentioned that criteria No. 3 isn’t always so. If a sign is placed on Route 12, the distance is usually 75 feet from the center, although it can change depending on where the structure on Route 12 is placed.

So criteria No. 3 will now read: “Is it 60 feet from the center of a traveled roadway? Or 75 feet for a  structure on Route 12? For more information on Route 12 rules contact NH Department of Transportation.”


Solar panels

North Walpole Commissioner John Foster suggested to Mr. Cunning that he come to the Zoning Board to see if he needed a site plan for the solar panels he planned to put on his roof because the cost was more than $10,000.

Ms. Mansouri said that this would be under the purview of the Planning Board.

Both Ms. Mansouri and Ms. Peggy Pschirrer said that at this time they knew of no ordinance about solar panels, either on the ground or on a roof. The secretary will check with the Chair of the Planning Board.


The meeting was adjourned at  8:25 pm.


Respectfully submitted,

Marilou Blaine


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