Harrisville Planning Board
September 13, 2017
The Harrisville Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting at the town office building located on Chesham Road on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.
Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm.
Members present: Sherry Sims, Ned Hulbert, Jonathan Miner Selectman Alternate, Ryan Stone Alternate, Noel Greiner Alternate, Peter Thayer Alternate, Craig Thompson Alternate, Andrew Maneval Selectman, Courtney Cox
Members absent: Heri Tryba and Lisa Marie Anderson Alternate
Members of the public: John Cucchi, Anne Cucchi, Winston Sims
Attendance and voting members
The voting members present were Ned Hulbert, Sherry Sims (except on the Cucchi lot-line adjustment), Courtney Cox, Andrew Maneval and Pete Thayer.
Approval of Agenda
After presentation of the agenda by Ned Hulbert, Noel Greiner made a motion to approve and Jon Miner seconded. All voted in favor.
Minutes of previous meetings 8/9/17 and 8/29/17
Noel Greiner moved to approve the August 9 minutes. Andrew Maneval seconded. All voted in favor. Then, Andrew Maneval moved to approve the August 29 Training Session minutes. Sherry Sims seconded. All voted in favor.
Sherry Sims and Noel Greiner removed themselves from the table for the following:
Application submission lot line adjustment, 30-32-11 and 30-32-11-1, Dublin Rd. John J. Cucchi, Jr.
Ned Hulbert noted that the application submitted by the Cucchis was in order and that the fees were received. John Cucchi then submitted a set of clean, stamped plats, after which Mr. Hulbert stated that the application, previously accepted, was now complete. A public hearing ensued.
Anne Cucchi addressed the PB and public, referring to a diagram of the subject properties on the projection screen. Ms. Cucchi noted that the “L portion” of the lower lot would be added to the upper lot, increasing the acreage of the upper lot to roughly 2. 5 acres from about 2 acres, and reducing the acreage of the lower lot to 3.6 acres. As a member of the public, Sherry Sims asked Anne Cucchi about a right of way, which Ms. Sims had heard would be offered as part of a real estate transaction. Ms. Cucchi responded that the question was irrelevant to the application before the board. Ms. Sims continued her line of questioning, expressing concern that the PB should undertake due diligence regarding a potential right of way on an exempted portion of property, given that such a transaction wouldn’t come before the PB. Anne Cucchi reiterated her position that the question had nothing to do with the lot line adjustment being considered by the board and that any questions concerning the Cucchi’s lower lot were irrelevant. Mr. Hulbert, after offering his opinion that he wasn’t sure it was relevant at this point, asked the board for its thoughts. Members generally agreed with Mr. Hulbert that, while questions about the property are fair game, the one posed by Ms. Sims had no bearing on the application for a boundary line adjustment. Mr. Hulbert then closed the public hearing.
A motion was then made by Pete Thayer to accept the boundary line adjustment to the Dublin Road property as presented. After discussing the wording of the motion, Andrew Maneval, for sake of order, moved to amend the motion to approve the application for the lot-line adjustment. Ryan Stone seconded. All voted in favor.
2-lot subdivision John J. Cucchi Jr., Skatutakee Rd cont’d to October 11
Anne Cucchi stated that the DES had requested several additions to their plans and is expected to conduct a site visit in the next month. Ms. Cucchi added that they anticipate a decision by DES before the October PB meeting. Mr. Hulbert noted that the extension received from the Select Board to review the application is a 90-day extension. Anne Cucchi stated they would get an update to the PB as soon as they receive one. Mr. Hulbert reiterated that the application is deferred.
Fall zoning ordinances agenda
Selectman Jay Jacobs attended to address the PB on ongoing challenges by town boards, particularly the ZBA, to interpret certain sections of the town ordinances. He submitted a letter to the board requesting they address this, noting that decks, especially, consistently present issues as the town attempts to deal with property owners’ requests, environmental concerns and development in the community. Mr. Jacobs offered two specific examples, pointing to the differences in the state’s and town’s definitions of impervious cover as it relates to deck surfaces, and requested that the PB redraft those articles that cause confusion so that the various town boards can more effectively perform their duties. Mr. Jacobs also raised the topic of setbacks in the town’s different districts and wonders whether or not the rationale for the requirements when the ordinances were originally adopted remains relevant today.
Mr. Maneval noted that Mr. Jacob’s proposal is twofold: first, addressing potential changes needed because of irrelevance or inappropriateness; and 2) other potential modifications to clarify what isn’t necessarily obvious. Board members stated their goal to work with other town boards and residents to help resolve zoning matters and Sherry Sims noted the distinction between the function of the PB versus that of the ZBA. It is Ms. Sims’s belief that the intent of each ordinance must be clear and that the language has to correlate with that intent in order to help the PB and ZBA do their jobs. Returning to the specific language addressing decks and impervious surfaces, Mr. Maneval noted that the problem lay in various town officials’ different interpretations of what was allowable under current ordinances.
The PB agreed the issue needs to be taken up and discussed, i.e., how to address Mr. Jacob’s request as well as the need to prioritize and manage the logistics and mechanics of presenting changes related to broadband/cell, the sign ordinance and the section on non-conforming uses and structures. Mr. Maneval and Ms. Sims clarified that the sign ordinance relates to the town’s need to comply with a state law accommodating free speech and both agreed that this was not an onerous undertaking but needed to be done.
The board then discussed who should serve on an ordinance revision committee, its tasks and the subjects to be dealt with. All agreed some of the content would be simpler and more narrowly focused while other topics would involve multiple sections of the ordinance. The co-chairs stated they would reach out to invite participants from the various town boards, the Building Inspector, the Conservation Commission and possibly others, by Friday, September 15. In addition, they clarified that, prior to the October PB meeting, the committee would define the specific problems to be addressed, considering how they connect to the Master Plan. Mr. Maneval added that writing statutory language, which is what would be involved, should be the task of the committee in order to make specific recommendations to the PB and ensure an efficient process.
Complete Streets/Transportation Committee
The PB had a conference call with Mari Brunner of SWRP to discuss the recently issued Proposed Policy and Guidelines document. Prior to initiating the talk with Ms. Brunner, the board noted that the main concerns from its August discussion of the documents were around the implication that “policy” might suggest fiscal mandates of some sort, though not intended.
The board asked her opinion on how other towns in Cheshire County have received and approached the guidelines, if they have been perceived as too restrictive and whether or not there are fiscal requirements attached. The PB also reviewed for Ms. Brunner that it understands the implications of the use of the term policy as recommended guidelines rather than as a mandate. Drawing on SWRP’s work with Keene, Swanzey, Troy Hinsdale, Jaffrey and Walpole, Ms. Brunner stated that most of the towns intend to incorporate the Complete Streets philosophy, working to consider the needs of all users of the roadway. She also noted that the only mandated portion of the document is for towns to consider the needs of all road users in the planning process before projects are undertaken. Adding that, while there are no mandated costs involved, she hoped towns, if they decide to implement the policy, would consider how projects could be funded and that towns are also encouraged to pursue grant opportunities. It is Ms. Brunner’s opinion that adopting the policy has helped motivate towns to go after grants and, in her opinion, has given towns an advantage in gaining grants. Ms. Brunner has also noticed the policy’s effectiveness in raising awareness and better engaging the community in safety and transportation issues. Added benefits, she noted, include fostering collaboration among interest parties and town boards and fostering relationships with the DOT.
The board then discussed their comfort level with some of the specific wording in the document and which articles are flexible and which seem to impose more burdens. Members agreed to review the document and bring their recommended edits to the October meeting or, if possible, email them to the group as soon as possible before then.
Also Mr. Hulbert noted that the Transportation Committee (formerly Complete Streets group) has started to work closely with HHI on Main St long-term improvements for cross-walks and pathways which must integrate HHI’s preservation concerns for the historic village district. In pursuing private funding for design work for these kinds of long-term town improvements, it will be essential to show that key players (e.g. HHI, PB, SB, DOT) have embraced best planning practices that will enhance safety and improve pedestrian and bicycle movement, along with automobile flow. The proposed Policy document’s current wording is not fiscally restrictive; it merely encourages best planning practices.
Complete Streets – Now called the Transportation Committee, the group currently includes Andrew Maneval, Ned Hulbert and Heri Tryba. Ned Hulbert stated another board member will be asked to join as he intends to rotate off this committee in the late fall. The three updates from this committee were as follows: It will ask to meet with the Select Board Thursday, September 21, with residents of Hancock Road area regarding the painting of a yellow line as a traffic calming measure; the Transportation Committee will hold its regular subcommittee meeting on September 29; and Andrea Polizos, Erin Hammerstedt and Barbara Watkins will attend the SWRP meeting with the DOT on September 20.
Water Protection committee – Pete Thayer noted there has been no follow up yet to the Community Conversation on the topic of water protection and that the group will next meet in October.
Broadband/cell – Andrew Maneval stated that, pursuant to the Warrant Article which allocated a gross sum of $21,000 for the purpose of the study, with $14,000 raised privately or through grants, 50% of which would be matched by the town, Mr. Maneval stated the committee has raised $9,345.00 to date. An application is being submitted to the Harrisville Community Fund for $4,000. The committee met with and chose the engineering firm of Interisle out of Haverill, MASS to conduct the study. Interisle has submitted a contract, which the committee is prepared to sign at its next regular committee meeting on Friday, September 22. Mr. Maneval noted the study is estimated to take 12 weeks, but that it would be done in sections and would involve recommendations regarding zoning issues so that the necessary preparation for Town Meeting could be completed by the PB. Ned Hulbert added that Interisle intends to submit its recommendations for zoning language by November. The firm has conducted similar studies for the towns of Chesterfield and Lyme and others in Massachusetts.
Regional Cooperation – The next meeting with the School Board is tentatively set for October. Comment was added regarding leveraging the broadband line into the school that already exists.
Annual check/report on the O’Neil gravel pit, Jaquith Road – Sherry Sims noted that, under RSA 155A, earth excavation, the PB is charged with reviewing permits for excavation, including gravel pits. In 2015, the O’Neil’s applied to have their permit renewed, which the PB did for 3 years only. Ms. Sims stated that the PB, ideally in the next month, needs to meet at the site to compare the plat submitted by the O’Neils to the current site, but that no approval or disapproval was needed, only monitoring of the pit. The PB will set a date for the visit and invite other members to attend.
Training: forms, procedures, details – late September, date TBD
The group agreed that the next training session would take place on Tuesday, September 26, from 6-7:30 pm. Sherry Sims emphasized that members should bring their PB Handbook!
Upcoming NHMA Law Lectures
Sherry Sims announced the upcoming lecture dates as follows: Saturday, September 23 in Gorham and Saturday, October 14 in Concord. Lectures run the full day and the PB covers the registration fee. Topics include: Procedural Basics for PBs and ZBAs; Wireless Facilities: Managing the Approval Process; and Water Quality, Protection and Management. The co-chair will confirm the offering dates and times.
Craig Thompson recused himself for the following:
Consultation regarding Mayfair Farm
Sherry Sims described the background related to previous approvals received by Mayfair Farm to operate a commercial kitchen and their need to rebuild their barn due to a fire this past May. She stated that Mayfair is working on its rebuilding plans but believed, at this point, based on the materials provided and the previous site plan and ZBA approvals, that Mayfair would not be required to file a new zoning application. The group then discussed the potential relevance of sections 5.2.2 of the zoning ordinance related to change or expansion non-conforming uses and section 4.1.10 related to requirements for site plan approval.
Subsequently, Andrew Maneval moved that the PB determined upon materials provided by Mayfair Farm that, with respect to the change in the barn on the premises, the PB does not need to conduct a further Site Plan Review. Noel Greiner seconded. All voted in favor. Upon further discussion and the recommendation of the PB, Mr. Thompson stated he would attend the next ZBA meeting for a consultation.
Meeting adjourned at 9:25 pm.