The Town of Harrisville Zoning Board Adjustment held a public meeting on May 17, 2017 @ the Town Office located on 705 Chesham Road.

Members present: Hal Grant, Chairman; Charles Sorenson, Vice-Chairman; Jonathan Miner, Selectman; Sue Brown; Jeffrey Trudelle
Members absent: Rex Baker, Alternate
Members of the public: Noel Greiner; Don Scott

Meeting opened at 7:00 pm.

Sue Brown did not participate in the deliberation as she is an abutter to the applicant.

The board considered the application of Karl and Roxanne Karter of 292 Hancock Road (Map 21 Lot 20) for a Special Exception from Article V Section 3.3 of the zoning ordinances. Don Scott represented the applicant and presented the proposal to construct an 8 x 14 foot addition to an existing covered porch. Mr. Scott submitted a site plan, including details related to the dimensions, design, location, setbacks, impervious coverage and woodland buffer calculations, and infiltration measures for storm water runoff. Mr. Scott demonstrated that the addition would be all enclosed and in the direction away from the non-conforming aspect of the structure.  An existing boulder would be drilled and split and removed to make room for the addition. A flat stone bed will lie underneath and, like the existing porch, sonic columns will be used for support. Mr. Scott demonstrated how runoff will come back away from the lake and a stone bed drip edge will filtrate water gradually underneath and toward the front of the porch.

The Karter property is in the Lakeside District and thus Mr. Scott addressed the statutes regarding non-conforming structures, specifically 9.1.6 which states, “In the case of existing non-conforming structures, no additions shall be made which will be closer to the high-water mark than the nearest part of the existing structures. No structure shall be closer than fifteen (15) feet to the edge of any right of way, or to the side or rear boundaries of the lot.”  He highlighted the two other relevant statutes, including Article XV, Shoreland Overlay Protection Ordinance, specifically 15.13.1 which states, “When reviewing requests for the redevelopment of sites that contain non-conforming structures or any expansions of nonconforming structures, the Board of Adjustment shall review proposals which are more nearly conforming than the existing structures, and may waive some of the standards specified in Article XV, so long as there is at least the same degree of protection provided to the public water” and Article V Article V Nonconforming Uses, Lots and Structures, specifically 5.3.3 which states, “By special exception, a non-conforming building may be expanded in either volume or area. This expansion must be in the direction away from the non-conforming aspect of the structure.”

Mr. Scott demonstrated, using photographs and a site plan, the dimensions of the addition, the setbacks and setback lines, and how the construction would meet these requirements and be away from the non-conforming aspect of the building, as well as how the runoff would be captured in an infiltration trench and a stone bed below the porch.

The calculation Mr. Scott made for impervious cover (a total of 3,800 square feet) is 12% and the allowed percentage is 20%. The addition of the 112 square feet of covered porch would bring the total percentage of impervious cover to 12.5%.  Regarding the woodland buffer, required to be 50% of the lot, Mr. Scott stated that currently the property is at 58%, thus over the minimum. Mr. Scott further clarified that the state requires that the woodland buffer be behind the 50 foot setback line up to the 150 foot setback line whereas the town requires that only 50% of the lot be left in a natural state. Mr. Scott demonstrated how the existing vegetation on the lot, which will remain undisturbed, meets both requirements.

When the discussion was opened for questions, Noel Greiner asked about the setback requirements, which were clarified to be 50’, and about the runoff, which Mr. Scott reiterated would be sheetflow and not concentrated flow, and that additional stone bedding under the porch would allow for any additional runoff from the addition which, he believes, wouldn’t increase any runoff into the lake. Mr. Greiner asked to confirm that there was no increased septic requirement and Mr. Scott responded that there isn’t because the addition is an unheated porch and not a bedroom. Mr. Scott asked the board for clarification on the definition of “living space” and Charles Sorenson stated that “if it is designed as an open deck with a roof, it is not a living space.” Mr. Sorenson further stated that if it were made into a 3-season room, it might approach a living space.

Sue Brown, as a member of the public, asked about impervious surfaces and how they were included in Mr. Scott’s calculations. Referring back to the plans, Mr. Scott stated he included the driveway as an impervious surface in his measurements, the garage, the shed, and the deck, but not the dock as that often comes out of the lake.  Sue Brown asked about stones lying together, e.g., as a patio, and Mr. Scott replied that stepping stones to a waterfront wouldn’t be considered as impervious. When asked about the side patio, Mr. Scott stated it probably should be included in the calculation but that it wouldn’t come anywhere near the threshold of 20%. Mr. Scott noted another area of the property with stepping stones but that he didn’t count it as they’re not considered impervious. When asked the total calculation of the side patio area, Mr. Scott stated it’s probably 10×12 and board agreed it doesn’t constitute 8%, which would approach the impervious cover limit. Mr. Sorenson noted that the lawn is roughly ¾ of an acre.

Hal Grant closed the public portion of the meeting and the zoning board began its review. When asked about the addition’s distance from the road, Mr. Scott responded he estimates 100 feet and Mr. Sorenson noted there were no setback issues whatsoever. Mr. Scott added the Karters are 50 feet back from the lake and the house sits in the middle of the lot. The recording secretary confirmed to Mr. Sorenson that notice went out to all the abutters.

Mr. Scott raised a question about abutters and how the list is generated, stating his belief that the program the town uses, Avatar, is not generating the abutters list correctly, thereby adding costs to applicants who are required to pay $10 per abutter for notification.  Mr. Scott believes the notification costs on the Karter’s application should have been about $120 instead of $180. He has spoken to Angela Hendrickson who stated she would call Avatar to discuss it. Mr. Scott wanted the board to know he did not notice more than 18 abutters because he graphically calculated the list, and thus removed those beyond the required 200-foot line. The board acknowledged this and Mr. Sorenson stated that Mr. Scott needs to keep in mind that, if a mistake was made on those graphic calculations, the board and the applicant would be at fault.

Subsequent to the discussion, Jeffrey Trudelle made a motion to grant the Special Exception for purposes of lakefront setback, to allow an expansion away from the non-conforming aspect of the property within 75 feet. Jonathan Miner seconded. The board then individually reviewed and voted on the required criteria. Charles Sorenson notified the board that, for votes on variances and special exceptions, the state now requires a vote on all five criteria separately rather than a discussion of all criteria at once.  What matters, Mr. Sorenson stated, is that a majority is reached at the end of the votes but that, in voting on each individual criterion, the board explains its reasons for reaching each decision. Any discussion or disagreement has to be noted.

Voting on the first requirement under Article 20, Section 1.2.1 that the specific site is an appropriate location for its use, the board agreed that there was already a porch there and that it is the same use and no more intrusive. All voted in favor.

Voting on the second requirement under Article 20, Section 1.2.2 that the use as developed will not adversely affect the adjacent areas (, Mr. Sorenson stated the application demonstrated that there was adequate accommodation for runoff. All voted in favor.

Voting on the third requirement under Article 20, Section 1.2.3 that there will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians, Charles Sorenson stated that the criterion was not applicable in this case. The board unanimously agreed.

Voting on the fourth requirement under Article 20, Section 1.2.4 that adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use (, Charles Sorenson cited the earlier conversation regarding septic and use of the proposed addition and that, because the proposed use is a porch and not a living space, the criterion does not apply. The board unanimously agreed.

Voting on the fifth requirement under Article 20, Section 1.2.5 that the proposed use complies with all the frontage, setbacks, minimum land area, sanitary protection, signs and parking requirements, except as specifically waived by the board, Charles Sorenson noted that the waiver, as set forth in the motion by Jeff Trudelle, is the 75-foot setback from the waterfront and the reason for the waiver is that it is an expansion away from the non-conforming aspect. All voted in favor.

Voting again on the motion to grant the special exception and on the review of the five individual criteria, the board voted unanimously in favor to approve the Karter’s application.

The board, as a final matter, approved the meeting minutes of March 15, 2017 and April 19, 2017.

The meeting adjourned at 8:00 pm.