The Harrisville Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting at the town office building located on Chesham Road on Wednesday, October 11, 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, Craig Thompson Alternate, Andrew Maneval Selectman, Courtney Cox, Heri Tryba, Lisa Marie Anderson Alternate
Members absent: Pete Thayer Alternate
Members of the public: John Cucchi, Anne Cucchi, Giovanni El Supremo, Winston Sims, Pamela Worden, Charles Faucher, Alan Myhaver, Richard Lavatori, Jessica Raynor, Jay Raynor, Susan Holland, Barbara Watkins, Erin Hammerstedt, Mary Day Mordecai
Attendance and voting members
The voting members present were Ned Hulbert, Sherry Sims (except on the Cucchi subdivision application when Ryan Stone would vote), Courtney Cox, Andrew Maneval and Heri Tryba.
Approval of Agenda
After presentation of the agenda by Ned Hulbert, Noel Greiner made a motion to approve and Andrew Maneval seconded. All voted in favor.
Minutes of previous meeting 9/13/17
Noel Greiner moved to approve the September minutes. Ned Hulbert seconded. All voted in favor with Heri Tryba abstaining.
Sherry Sims and Noel Greiner removed themselves from the table for the following:
2-lot subdivision John J. Cucchi Jr., Skatutakee Rd
Ned Hulbert announced that the hearing could continue given that the Cucchis had received their approval from DES at the end of last week. Mr. Hulbert then announced he had a couple of documents to review and discuss prior to hearing from the Cucchis. The first document was a letter from Pamela Worden and Charles Faucher’s attorney, Mr. Wrigley, addressed to the Town Attorney Silas Little. Mr Hulbert distributed copies of the letter and then summarized its contents as follows: Mr. Wrigley urged Mr. Little to advise the Planning Board not to accept the private road because it’s irregular, though not illegal; and, if the private road is accepted, that its slope remain under an 8% maximum grade. There were no comments from the public on the letter, which was submitted in August.
The next document reviewed was submitted to the PB by Winston Sims of the Conservation Commission. It contained Mr. Sims’s notes on his observations of the June 8, 2017 site visit to the Cucchi property, which he requested that a professional engineer review. Mr. Sims stated he didn’t believe the elevations and measurements noted in the Clough Harbor engineering report accurately reflected the natural elevations of the property. Mr. Hulbert responded that he had spoken to Mr. Hitchcock, the same Keene engineer, who acknowledged the confusion a lay person may have on the maps, but that the maps work and the maps are typical of the profession.
The third document, requested by Heri Tryba, was a copy of the drainage report. Mr. Tryba stated he thought the report acknowledged that there were no significant drainage problems; however, Mr. Tryba was concerned that the report used a 10-year storm assumption and that climate change could result in more significant rain events in the future. Mr. Hulbert responded that, according to Mr. Little, the DES takes such events into consideration in its review process.
Mr. Tryba asked Mr. Sims if, in light of the fact that Harrisville is a prior notification town, the Conservation Commission had commented to the DES on the application. Mr. Sims responded that they hadn’t, given that the HCC hadn’t seen the latest application. Mr. Hulbert added that, according to the town attorney, this was not a relevant issue.
Mr. Hulbert then moved to the Cucchis to present the approval they received from the DES. Anne Cucchi described the materials they had provided to the DES and what the DES had considered in the past few months. She noted that the DES, after reviewing the application and conducting a site visit, approved the subdivision with the following conditions, which she read aloud, placed on the approval:
A. OTHER CONDITIONS AND WAIVERS:
1. Approved for lot 30-32 & 30-32-1.
- “Declaration of Covenants, Restrictions, Conditions and Reservations” will need to be recorded concurrently with deed at time of lot transfer.
- All activity shall be in accordance with RSA 483-B, the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act.
4. Dredge or fill in a jurisdictional wetland or stream requires DES Wetland Bureau approval per RSA 482-A.
According to Ms. Cucchi, the DES furnished the town with copies of all documents and notified the town of the review process.
Mr. Sims asked the board if the provisions of Article XIII of the zoning ordinance, pertaining to steep slopes, had been taken into account. Andrew Maneval responded that it was, and that the ordinance deals with construction of a driveway and matters involving issuance of a permit. He added that the Select Board considered the matter with respect to the private road and that, whether Article XIII is considered in the context of a house or driveway or any other construction when undertaken requiring a permit on the property, or now, he felt the PB has considered the issues that that section raises. He added that the Cucchis or any future owner wishing to build would be bound by the provisions of RSA 483-B, as well as Articles XIII and XV, and any other relevant town and state regulations that apply generally and that apply to required conditions for specific permits. Anne Cucchi agreed.
Ned Hulbert then read aloud the Steep Slope Provisions under Article 13.3, including the specific conditions of 13.3.1 through 13.3.6 pertaining to driveways, slopes, sediment, storm drainage and septic systems, that must be met.
Discussion then turned to the questions of slope percentages and slope averaging. Mr. Hulbert summarized for the board his discussion with Mr. Hitchcock of SVE Engineering in Keene, who stated he wasn’t aware of slope averaging but recommended that no permit be issued until the road is brought to 8% maximum slope since he felt the current condition was unsafe for vehicles and the impact of runoff. According to Mr. Hulbert, Mr. Little agreed that the board shouldn’t withhold approval on the subdivision but should require an 8% slope as a condition of an approval. Both the engineer and town attorney stated that the 8% maximum requirement would address safety concerns.
Mr. Maneval raised his concern that sticking to that number for the number’s sake could be more problematic and worsen potential runoff into Skatutakee Lake. He thus suggested, given general concern that any change in the use of the property as a result of the subdivision could affect the lake, that in addition to requiring that the road be corrected to a legal standard, the applicant be offered the alternative condition of submitting an engineering report, satisfactory to the Planning Board, stating that road design would be such that runoff would be maintained or improved, but not worsened and would entail the best engineering solution to protect against stormwater runoff. In Mr. Manevals’ opinion, adding an alternative condition allowed for the possibility of a better engineering solution than a required condition of simply regrading the road.
Mr. Cucchi requested that it be included in the record that he felt the letter from Pamela Worden’s and Charles Faucher’s attorney was an attempt not to address environmental issues but to cost the Cucchi’s money, and that he believes they will have to follow the same ordinances and regulations for any permitting process related to their own property. Mr. Hulbert warned Mr. Cucchi not to address attendees in an abusive and bullying tone of voice, after which Mr. Cucchi requested to add that he felt Mr. Wrigley attempted to intervene in a real estate transaction and that he believed Sherry Sims was involved.
Heri Tryba asked about the Conservation Commission’s involvement in the application, inquiring to what extent it had been involved or notified or made aware of the application and DES review process. Mr. Sims responded that the commission was aware of the application, though it hadn’t been notified about the latest application, and that the commission was not made aware of the timing of the DES site visit and that it hadn’t commented on the application. The board and Ms. Cucchi confirmed that the DES had notified the town regarding what would be reviewed, but did not provide specific timing as to its site visit.
Following requests by members of the public to reconsider its decision to allow the private road as well as to do whatever it can to protect Lake Skatutakee, Mr. Hulbert closed the public hearing portion of the meeting. The board began its discussion. Mr. Maneval clarified his thinking behind proposing the amended condition, assuming the board reached that point. He restated that his concern stemmed from the fact that currently the flatter slope, presumably offering protection from runoff, is at the top of the property and the steeper slope at the bottom. He feared that regrading the entire road to an 8% level could worsen runoff by steepening the already flatter slope and therefore proposed having an engineer provide a better alternative. Mr. Hulbert clarified that grading to a 8% max. slope requirement does not pertain to grading sections of the road already under 8% slope (the last 100 feet is 4% slope) but to those over an 8% slope (first 100 feet are 13.5% slope).
Upon the board’s general agreement that they were inclined to approve the subdivision application with conditions, and what remained was to ascertain those conditions, Mr. Hulbert read aloud the Proposed Conditions of Approval recommended by Attorney Silas Little. The first two concern administrative requirements. The remaining five conditions of approval were read as follows:
- No building permits shall be issued until Logan Road is constructed to a maximum 8 % grade in accordance with the plans previously submitted to the PB and in accord with the design standards in the Town Subdivision Regulations, Attachment 1. Section IX. Design Standards, Nos. 5-10.
- The following waivers are granted:
- 60 degree intersection of Logan Road with Skatutakee Road
- Cul-de-sac at the end of Logan Road
- As Logan Road is a privately-maintained road, at the issuance of a building permit, a Waiver of Municipal Liability shall be executed, signed and recorded at the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds (CCRD). (This is to assure that the Town is exempt from any liability, given the cul-de-sac waiver.)
- The Declaration of Covenants, Restrictions, Conditions and Reservations shall be executed, signed and recorded at the CCRD.
- If the upper lot driveway traverses the septic field for the upper lot, as is shown on the DES-approved subdivision plat, the septic system shall be designed and installed to permit traffic to drive over the septic field.
- The subdivision shall comply with all DES conditions of approval as stated in the DES Cucchi Subdivision approval.
The board continued its discussion of the roadway, the desire for best management practices, and what conditions, addressing both safety and stormwater runoff, it should place on any approval. Heri Tryba expressed concern that the proposed conditions didn’t go far enough. Mr. Hulbert reiterated that both the engineer and the town attorney believed the recommended conditions covered both issues. Mr. Maneval added that he didn’t feel it was within the Planning Board’s jurisdiction to impose conditions outside of what is already required under the town’s subdivision regulations. Additionally Mr. Maneval argued that amending the first condition to invite an engineering report that possibly offers an even better solution for safety and the environment would protect the board from imposing on the property owner. Lisa Anderson offered and read from provisions of the Steep Slope Ordinance (13.3) that the necessary conditions are already in place and discussion continued regarding the Planning Board’s authority and its options to place conditions.
Upon request by Mr. Hulbert, Mr. Maneval restated his proposed amendment, which would appear as the final sentence on the first condition: Alternatively, the property owner may submit an engineering report, satisfactory to the PB, setting out a stormwater/drainage and road safety plan for implementation that would protect Skatutakee Lake as well or better than simply grading the road to an 8% slope. Mr. Maneval subsequently suggested that condition # 1 be reworded to start with “No building or other permits…”
Mr. Tryba reiterated his view that the first condition, with or without Mr. Maneval’s amendment, still did not adequately address stormwater management. Mr. Maneval then pointed to Section 10 of the Subdivision Regulations, page 14, Harrisville Road Construction Standards, Appendix II which includes the road construction standards and DOT-specified standards for road and bridge construction. Mr. Tryba held to his position that these were insufficient. Agreeing with Mr. Maneval’s position and proposal and reiterating the opinion of the engineer and town attorney with whom he spoke, Mr. Hulbert moved the board to a vote on the proposed amendment to condition # 1. Mr. Maneval moved that the board approve the following as the first condition of approval: No building or other permits shall be issued until Logan Road is constructed to an 8% grade in accordance with the plans previously submitted to the PB and in accord with the design standards in the Town Subdivision Regulations, pp. 12-13, Attachment 1. Section IX. Design Standards Nos 5-10. Alternatively, the property owner may submit an engineering report, satisfactory to the PB, setting out a stormwater/drainage and road safety plan for implementation that would protect Skatutakee Lake as well or better than simply grading the road to an 8% slope. Courtney Cox seconded. All voted in favor.
Mr. Tryba then proposed an additional amendment to the end of the first sentence of Condition #1 that read, “and an engineering report certifying adequate stormwater protection for Lake Skatutakee.” Mr. Maneval opposed it, stating the PB cannot place more onerous rules on landowners than are already laid out in the regulations. Mr. Maneval seconded for purposes of a vote. The amendment did not carry, with a vote of 1-4.
Subsequently, Mr. Maneval moved that the PB accept all of the remaining conditions as put forth. Courtney Cox seconded. The board voted unanimously in favor. Mr. Maneval then moved that, subject to the conditions just described and which will be attached to the approval, the PB approves the Subdivision Application. Courtney Cox seconded. The board voted unanimously in favor.
The board took a 3-minute recess, after which Noel Greiner and Sherry Sims returned to the table.
Complete Streets/Transportation Committee
The board discussed and made its final decision on the Complete Streets Policy and Guidelines documents, issued and recommended by SWRPC. If the PB agrees with the recommended guidelines, the PB would take it to the Select Board, which has the ultimate vote on its adoption. Mr. Hulbert noted the guidelines include recommendations on multiple issues, such as signage, painting of street lines, and safety measures for bikers or walkers. He added that the document is advisory and does not include any fiscal expenditures, and that it would be taken to the Select Board if the Planning Board supports it.
Discussion pertained to whether or not to change the document name from Policy to Resolution, if Policy sounded too binding. Sherry Sims reiterated Mari Brunner’s comments by conference call at the PB’s previous meeting that the document advocates that towns consider the recommended guidelines when undertaking a transportation project of any kind, but that it imposes no fiscal imperatives. Ms. Brunner also had offered feedback about the document’s ability to foster positive collaboration within town boards and foster relationships with towns and the DOT, already evident in the work of Harrisville’s transportation committee, specifically on the traffic-calming initiatives for Hancock and Bonds Corner Roads.
Mr. Hulbert noted that approving the Policy document included approving the related Design Guidelines document, which focus on specific sections of town roads and streets that might be improved in various ways for pedestrians and cyclists.
The following additional points were emphasized by board members and attending members of the transportation committee: that supporting the guidelines would better position the town for grant opportunities, discussions with the DOT, and long-term planning needs of the town; support of the Planning Board didn’t ensure adoption by the town since the Select Board was the ultimate arbiter of the document’s adoption; and the DOT appears to be shifting somewhat on its approach to road projects in rural areas and appears willing to fund the cost on state roads for local requests for traffic calming measures. Still, Mr. Stone expressed concern about potential financial burdens on the town for projects the state had promised it would complete under its own guidelines, but never did.
At the end of the discussion, Noel Greiner made a motion to call the Complete Streets Policy document a Resolution. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Heri Tryba voting against given his belief that the document should retain its original title with the word “Policy”. Subsequently, Ned Hulbert asked for a motion for the PB to approve the Complete Streets Resolution and to recommend it to the Select Board. Noel Greiner so moved, and Sherry Sims seconded. All voted in favor.
Dates for NH Municipal Association Law Lectures
Sherry Sims noted that the lectures for Saturday, October 14, are full but for anyone still interested in going, she recommended the first lecture on PB and ZBA Basics. Two additional upcoming NHMA lectures she highly recommended are: November 15 and 16 at the Radisson in Manchester (see the NHMA website for more info); and Friday, October 27, in Concord from 9am – 1pm, called “The New Hard Road to Travel,” examining road law and private cases involving private roads and Class VI roads.
Additional Dates to Note
Ned Hulbert noted the Water Protection group would meet on Tuesday, October 24, from 6-7pm, with the agenda focused on insights and next steps stemming from the last Community Conversation. Regional Cooperation would meet with the School Board on October 18 from 5-7pm. Sherry Sims will follow up with David O’Neil to set a date for the gravel pit visit within the next couple of weeks.
The ordinance subcommittee, Ned Hulbert noted, is focusing first on Article V and any interrelated or overlapping ordinances and definitions. He proposed devoting half of the next meeting to discussing the PB’s priorities with respect to Ordinance amendments as well as firming up a process for bringing forth proposed changes. Andrew Maneval proposed that the board address the Broadband proposal, the sign ordinance and any other recommendations the ordinance subcommittee makes, in addition to a general discussion by the board on how to approach the larger ordinance amendment process.
Meeting adjourned at 9:25 pm.