Zoning Board Meeting Minutes – 4/17/19

Present: Chair Jan Galloway Leclerc, Vice-Chair Myra Mansouri, Clerk Judy Trow, Tom Murray. Alternate: Bob Anderson. Absent: Pauline Barnes and alternate Don Sellarole.

 

Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the May 2019 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions. 

 

Meeting Opened: Ms. Leclerc called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm. 

 

Roll Call: Alternate Anderson was asked to fill Ms. Barnes place on the Board.

 

Minutes: There was one minor change – page two, third paragraph from the bottom. Mr. Murray asked that the wording be changed to “Then she asked for comments from the Board.” Ms. Trow made a motion to approve the minutes as amended. Ms. Mansouri seconded the motion and the motion was approved by the Board. 

 

New Business:

Barlo signs: Large, back-lit sign for NH liquor store. Andy Davis, the director of Real Estate for the NH Liquor Commission, attended the meeting to discuss the proposed sign.

 

Mr. Davis has been with the Commission for 11 years. There are 78 stores in New Hampshire, he said. While the Liquor Commission is a state agency, it is also a retail operation. “We are a Fortune 500 Company,” Davis said. When he started to work with the Commission, gross sales were 450 million dollars. Last year, they were 720 million and 165 million went to the General Fund. The Liquor Commission’s goal is to get to 1 billion.

 

Obviously, the growth that we’ve have had in 10 years is impressive. Part of the growth, Mr. Davis said, is because the Liquor Commission branded itself. “We are not quite to the point that when you see the golden arches, you know who we are. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s not just signage, but signage is a big part of it. Letting people know who you are, where you are.” 

 

About a year and half ago, the Commission decided to update signage and the Legislature granted a 1 million dollar appropriation. This is being done in phases. So now Walpole is on the radar. The sign is different than what is there but in his mind, the signage there now is old and tired. It also periodically gets knocked down because of the snow sliding off the roof.

 

Mr. Davis brought a magazine put out by the Liquor Commission titled “Celebrate NH” and this month the magazine had a feature about the Walpole Store. There are six employees at the store, two full time and four part time. Jim O’Brien of North Walpole is the manager and he has been manager there for two decades. In fact, during its total existence the store has had only four managers and all have been from North Walpole. Mr. O’Brien says in the article, “It’s like Cheers – everybody knows your name.”

 

The first liquor store in Walpole was in 1947 and it was located in North Walpole. Mr. O’Brien talks about people who come from out of state and 60 percent of our business is from out of state, Davis said.

Mr. O’Brien also praises his employees who are trustworthy and reliable and have helped make the store’s reputation and even the town’s reputation as one of the best stores. There are people who come from out of state that won’t go to any other store, O’Brien says in the article. 

 

Getting back to the sign, Mr. Davis said the sign is LED and dark sky compliant, the light shines down. It is on a timer and comes on at dark and goes off one hour after the store closes. There is also a sign under the canopy. The new sign goes up to the roof line to get away from the condition of the snow always sliding into the sign. Now, with the new sign, the snow will slide under the sign. That old sign also doesn’t have the new logo. The old sign is 10 feet by 5 feet. The logo is 3.7 inches wide. So the total new sign is 20 feet by 3 feet.

 

Ms Mansouri said the only problem is the size of the sign. She thought it was overbearing. Mr. Anderson said he has tried to quantify what people want to do with their signs and he feels that those who have been willing to cut back on the size have still had an effective sign. He mentioned one sign as an example – the sign for the Hubbard Ball Field. The Hubbard family is a much loved family in this town. Their proposed sign was much larger than our zoning ordinance permits. But they actually cut the size of the sign down to our zoning recommendations. The town doesn’t have a brand but we have a feeling in the town.

 

Ms. Leclerc said the Shaw sign on one side of the liquor store and the Ocean State sign on the other side are both much larger than our zoning regulations permit. She believes that Shaw’s came for a variance, but doesn’t remember if Ocean State did also. It could also have gone back to when it was Ames. Mr. Davis said and ”that is part of the reason that we are asking for a larger sign. We noticed the abutters are bigger.” 

 

Ms. Trow said, “Everyone knows where the liquor store is.”

 

Mr. Davis said, “I cover the whole state and came to this meeting – you mention names. For about 32 years, I would perform out here on this bandstand with the American Legion Band. When we had a break, we came in here, the Town Hall, and would get a hot dog and popcorn and a drink. For two years of my life in college, I worked for Hubbard Farms. I knew Leslie Hubbard, I knew Went Hubbard and I had the opportunity to meet Frank Purdue at the Hatchery. ….

 

I will take your comments back to Concord and I would not do anything to Walpole that would be offensive. But at the same time I think the sign is tasteful. It gets our brand across. I ‘ll try to get it down about 25 percent. We don’t really need your approval, but I don’t really like that statute. I want to be a good neighbor. I talked to your chair and she said you can do anything you want. I don’t want that to be the message. I don’t want this to be the legacy. I would be glad to go back to the marketing people and say pare it down a bit, say to 75 percent.”

 

All the Board members said they liked the sign. They just suggested making all the letters smaller. 

 

Mr. Davis said he’s replaced the signs of 32 stores and all the new stores automatically get the new sign.

 

Mr. Davis thanked the Board for letting him come. He said the Liquor Commission is one of the major  economic engines for the state and they have a lot of competition from neighboring states.

 

Possible Variance – Leon F. Jones, Wentworth Road, wants to put up a storage facility, a Quonset Hut. His setbacks from abutting properties are OK, but he may not be 65 feet from center of the road. However, there is a class VI Road in back. He has some questions about what to do.

Mr. Jones did not come to the meeting. 

 

Possible Variance – Jennifer Turney – Owners are Jorge and Denise Ramires: Building at 9 Prospect Hill Road, addition, setback, distance from center of the road. 

 

This was resolved that the setbacks were within the regulations and the owners received a building permit from the town.

 

Old Business:

Review form for Zoning Board for Special Exception in a Commercial District. One correction was made on page one at the bottom of the page – owners changed to owner. This was the final look at this form. 

 

At 8 pm Ms. Trow made a motion to go into executive session. Ms. Mansouri seconded the motion and it was approved by the rest of the Board. At 8:20 pm Ms. Trow made a motion to come out of executive session and seal the minutes. Mr. Mansouri seconded the motion and the Board approved the motion.

 

A motion was made to adjourn. Mr. Anderson seconded the motion and it was approved by the rest of the Board.

 

 

Handouts:

Wellhead District Maps

Liquor Store sign pictures

 

cc: ZBA, WPB, North Walpole Commissioners, Walpolean, www.walpolenh.us

Posted: Inside Town Offices, on the bulletin board outside the Post Office

 

Next meeting Wednesday,  May 15, 2019

 

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