Zoning Board of Adjustment
Town of Walpole
Wednesday, August 21, 2017
Present: Board Members: Chair Myra Mansouri, Vice-Chair Jan Galloway Leclerc, Tom Murray. Alternate: Ernie Vose. Absent: Judy Trow, Mary Therese Lester and Alternate Pauline Barnes.
Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the September 2017 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Roll Call: Ms. Mansouri called the meeting to order at 7:36 pm. There was a quorum of three board members and Alternate Ernie Vose was asked to act as a regular Board member.
Minutes: Mr. Murray made a motion to accept the minutes as presented. Ms. Mansouri seconded the motion and the Board voted in the affirmative.
Old Business: Public Hearing for an Expansion of a Non-Conforming Use. Map 18, Lot 18, Residential B, owners of the property at 56 Old Keene Road are Andrea-Vickers and Griffin Sivret.
Mr. Chad Thurston of Griffin Construction explained that he wanted to add 7 feet to the existing building, continuing on in the same line and run it parallel to the road.
Ms. Leclerc asked if it would be closer to the road. Mr. Thurston said no. The original setback was 60 feet from the center line of the street instead of the current ordinance requirement of 65 feet.
With no further questions from the Board or the audience, Ms. Mansouri closed the hearing. Mr. Vose made a motion to accept the Expansion as presented. Ms. Leclerc seconded the motion and the Board voted in favor of the motion.
New Business: Mr. Ben Northcott wants to excavate on his property off of Old Cheshire Turnpike where he stores and repairs his large earth moving equipment. He received a permit from the Selectmen to excavate 5,000 yards and sell about 3,000 yards to the Town of Walpole to the Highway Department.
Mr. Northcott explained that he wanted to put the his large equipment behind the red barn and it was about 8 feet higher than all the buildings around it. He wants to make it level to the red building in one of the pictures he provided and put doors in the back so trucks and equipment can enter from the back instead of from the road side. It would keep it farther from Cheshire Turnpike and cut down on noise. He was going to use some of the gravel for the parking areas, the road on the property and the driveway and other places on the property where it was needed. “We don’t want a high pile of gravel for a number of years,” he said.
Mr. Vose asked if this is a finite amount that he wanted to sell. Mr. Northcott said the area is about 100 to 150 feet. Mr. Vose asked if he was in the business of selling of gravel from the property – or is this a one-time deal. Mr. Northcott said once he did what he had to do with gravel around his property, that was his intention.
The photograph shows the back of building with about 4 feet of gravel removed and if one walked into the building now he/she would walk into the middle section of the building. By removing more gravel one could walk into the building on level ground and that is where the larger machines would be stored and repaired during the winter months.
Ms. Mansouri said he already had a permit from the town. So why are you here, Mr. Vose asked. Mr. Northcott said, “So we can sell the excess material.” It would be similar to what Mr. Franks did. Mr. Vose said that the Zoning Board didn’t have to deal with that, it was a one-time deal, the town collects the taxes and the Board had nothing to do with.
Ms. Mansouri said Mr. Northcott was doing it as a courtesy to the Board because the Board worked on a similar project with Mr. Northcott last year when he bought the property. The neighbors wanted to make sure the equipment wasn’t seen from the road and wanted to be assured that he wasn’t opening a quarry.
Mr. Vose asked who he crushed crush gravel for. Mr. Northcott answered mostly for towns. The large equipment is only there during the winter.
Ms. Mansouri said the Board wanted a written account of what’s going on. The Board thanked him for coming to the Board to explain what he was doing.
Mr. Doug and Mrs. Laura Palmer came into ask a lot of questions about property the couple are thinking of buying behind Ocean State Job Lot in Ames Plaza. The property is 6 Ames Lane and next to a store Mr. Palmer rents. The property and the store building are owned by William Carmody. They are zoned commercial.
The Palmers said that if they buy the property, they will either put up an apartment building or mini storage units. It is Lot 18 and there is both a water line and a sewer line going under the property the setback rule is 10 feet from each line. Tall trees create a border between the lot and Dearborn Circle.
Mr. Palmer wanted to understand the limitations of the land regarding setbacks from other properties and the center line of a the access road. The setback ordinances say 20 feet from the property line on the sides and in the back, 65 feet from right of way the access road. Ames Plaza Lane is a private road. Dearborn Circle is the road frontage line.
Mr. Carmody is putting in a driveway that will access into Ames Plaza Lane, a private road, not Dearborn Circle, because of the trees and because it is Residential B. The actual deed for the Dearborn Circle development was that it was commercial land but would be returned to residential B after 20 years and it was approved by the voters.
Which road should they use? Because Ames Plaza Road is a private road, they don’t have to follow the 65-foot rule.
If we put a building 20 feet off the property line, can we put in a driveway between the building and the property line? Mr. Palmer asked. The answer was yes.
It is 2/3 of a acre or about 30,000 square feet, minimum is 25,000, so a building could be put on the property.
An apartment is allowed. Storage units are not mentioned in the ordinance. Mr. Palmer wants to put in 30-40 units, 10 by 10 or 10 by 20. Would this be allowed? The Planning Board said at a previous meeting that storage is not permitted in a commercial district. Mr. Robert Miller read the ordinance at the Planning Board’s last meeting. The Planning Board said that they would need a Special Exception to build storage units.
Mr. Murray said, “That is their opinion.”
Ms. Mansouri asked, “How many apartments and what would they be like?”
Mr. Palmer said they would look like the building next door. It would look like a square colonial. Four to six apartments would be the goal.
Mr. Palmer said he would like it in writing or in the minutes what is accepted in the commercial district. Ms. Mansouri said she wasn’t sure if the Board could do that ahead of time. There are specific uses in the commercial ordinance. And in the ordinance there is an avenue for a Special Exception.
Ms. Leclerc said but the ordinance was written in the 60s when storage units were not being built. She said she would consider this a retail use, which is considered in the ordinance.
Mrs. Palmer asked it they could get a Variance. Mr. Palmer asked what is difference between a Special Exception and a Variance? Ms. Mansouri said a Special Exception is a lot easier to get.
The logic is that if we want to know what we can do before we buy. He would like to put in 40 storage units but the land wouldn’t allow it. There is the sewer line, which no one can build on and has a setback of 10 feet. So the new layout is 32.
If the access road is a private right of way, you need permission from the owners, Ms. Mansouri said. Mr. Palmer said it was part of the subdivision – a deeded right of way.
“It’s my opinion that it’s a retail situation,” Ms. Leclerc said. It’s retail in that people can come and go, Vose said.
You are not generating a lot of traffic and you should establish reasonable hours of operation, but that’s a Planning Board issue, Mr. Murray said.
After all the discussion, Ms. Leclerc made a motion to call mini storage a recognized use as a retail business in the commercial district. Mr. Murray seconded the motion and the motion was passed by the Board.
So the next step is for the Palmers to go back to the Planning Board for a site plan.
Bruce Bosworth/Rob Hemmings, 46 Old Cheshire Turnpike, Drewsville, Residential A, 570 square-foot cabin on .66 acres, inherited the property from his father 41/2 years ago, paid taxes as well as mortgage, wants to sell.
Ms. Mansouri handed out a letter with a tax card of the Hemmings property.
Mr. Bruce Bosworth of Westmoreland is interested in buying property but can he build on this property because of its size. Mr. Bosworth intends to tear down the building and construct a new home.
Ms. Mansouri asked about the well and a septic. Water is obtained from a spring from the house across the street in Drewsville. He is uncertain where the septic is but realizes that the has to put in a new septic system. Regulations are that a septic system and source of water must be 75 to 90 feet apart. The road frontage is 213 feet. What size house house would you like to build? Mansouri asked. He answered 1250 to 1500 square feet.
The lot size is smaller by zoning but is it larger enough to build on? He doesn’t have to build on the same footprint.
He must deal with setbacks, 65 feet from center of road to the front of the house, and 20 feet from each side and back.
The first thing you have to do is deal with the septic to make sure it’s going to fit on the property. The selectmen would need to see the house plan and would have to deal with the septic site. The state is responsible for septic regulations.
It was suggested that Mr. Bosworth check with the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds to see if the deed says the property can get water from the spring. Then he must prove that there will be the correct distance between the water source from the spring or a new well and his septic system. Because the lot had a home on it previously, he can build anywhere on the lot and does not have to build on the footprint of the house.
Criteria for Special Exception for Signage – Ms. Leclerc clarified that in rural/ag the setback from the center of the road is 20 feet. She also pointed out that 100-foot rule is the only time a Special Exception is needed so the other points were just points that had to be on a sign form. If a sign is 6 square feet or smaller you can put it closer than 100 feet to another sign.
Mr. Murray said he would like the issue of obscuring another sign from view of pedestrian or car traffic considered when making a decision. These are things that we should just keep in mind when considering signage.
This might be good to hand out if someone asked to someone getting a Special Exception for a sign, Ms. Leclerc said. It will be given out to applicants considering a sign that is greater than 6 square feet.
Ruggiero Decision – there was motion to go into Executive Session at 8:30 pm. The motion was seconded and approved by the rest of the Board. The Board came out of Executive Session at 8:38 pm.
Mr. Murray made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Ms. Leclerc seconded the motion and the Board vote to approve the motion.