The Harrisville Planning Board continued its regular monthly meeting, initially opened on March 14, 2018, at the town office building located on Chesham Road on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.
Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm.
Members present: Sherry Sims, Ned Hulbert, Ryan Stone Alternate, Jonathan Miner Selectman, Noel Greiner Alternate, Courtney Cox, Lisa Marie Anderson Alternate, Craig Thompson Alternate
Members absent: Pete Thayer Alternate
Members of the public and town officials: Winston Sims, Mary Day Mordecai, Hal Grant, Silas Little, Mary Pinkham-Langer, Kris Stewart, Lisa Stewart, Dennis McKenney, Jeffrey Grosner, Barbara Clark, Alan Clark, John Cucchi, Anne Cucchi, Harry Wolhandler, Margaret Monahan, Don Scott, Kathy Scott, Melissa Stewart, Grace Stewart
Attendance and voting members
Mr. Hulbert announced that the voting members present were Ryan Stone, Ned Hulbert, Jon Miner, Sherry Sims and Courtney Cox.
Approval of Agenda
Mr. Hulbert reviewed the agenda. Noel Greiner moved to accept. All voted in favor.
Minutes of previous meeting 1/31/17
Sherry Sims moved to approve. All voted in favor.
Jeff Grosner and Rebecca DeFusco – Hancock Road, Map 21, Parcels 1 and 2. Ms. Sims outlined the property owner’s application to merge two contiguous properties for taxation purposes and noted that the required documents were submitted and complete. Mr. Grosner confirmed the proposal and intent. Mr. Hulbert then moved to approve the voluntary merger. Ryan Stone seconded. All voted in favor. Ms. Sims added that the transaction would be in effect for the next tax cycle.
Pamela Worden – Skatutakee Road, Map 30 Lots 51-1, 87, and 32-10. Ms. Sims described the location and size of the three contiguous parcels and noted that the paperwork was complete. There were no questions from the board. A member of the public asked if a voluntary merger can occur when a road passes through the parcels and Ms. Sims explained that it can, when ownership of the property on either side passes under the road to the center of it, which is the case on Skatutakee Road.
John and Anne Cucchi then presented documentation (Attachments A through K) in support of their objection to Ms. Worden’s application, stating “there is no lot area to merge”. Anne Cucchi summarized the objection to the voluntary merger based on NH RSA 674:39-a, which states that “No merger shall be approved that would create a violation of then-current ordinances or regulations.” (Attachment A) Ms. Cucchi further referred to the Town of Harrisville Zoning Ordinance Definitions section which defines LOT AREA as “measured only to the right of way line of a street, road or alley and shall not include any part of a street, road, alley or area used in common with the owner(s) or occupant(s) of other lots.” In addition, Ms. Cucchi cited Article 17 of the Town’s 1978 Warrant, approved by the Town, authorizing the Town to release the excess right of way to property owners of cottages along the north side of Skatutakee Lake Road, such release resulting in surveys and deeds prepared by the Town for each property owner. Anne Cucchi noted that these survey plats on record with the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds state that “the conveyance or release of any excess right-of-way by the Town of Harrisville SHALL NOT be considered as creating a separate standalone lot.”
Materials submitted by the Cucchis also included objections based on NH DES and Harrisville Zoning Ordinance regulations, a 2011 Court decree pertaining to then-owner Toni Silk and the Town, and a 1981 Superior Court decision addressing Patrick Clooney and the Robert Venable property which, according to the Cucchis, kept the fee and the public right-of-way to the Lake Skatutakee strip in the Town’s hands. Also attached was correspondence from town officials, language in NH statutes and DES regulations related to state water jurisdiction and use of public waters, all in support of their request that the PB deny the voluntary merger.
Town Attorney Silas Little was then asked to address the question of the Planning Board’s rights in the matter. Before Mr. Little spoke, Mr. Cucchi questioned Mr. Little’s representation and the matter of a conflict, and whether Mr. Little was present as an attorney for the Town, or for Ms. Worden or for either Mr. or Ms. Sims. Mr. Hulbert noted Mr. Cucchi’s objection. Mr. Little then responded that he believes the PB has the right to consider and decide, without public input, whether the Worden application is in compliance with NH RSA 674:39-a related to Voluntary Merger. It was Mr. Little’s position that, in Ms. Worden’s case, 3 substandard lots would be combined into one, thus bringing the property into increasing conformity. Mr. Little further argued that, when the Town voted to lay Skatutakee Lake Road over the Boston and Maine Railroad, anyone who had a complaint and felt he was owed damages, needed to petition the court at that time and that the B & M Railroad did not give up a fee right, just the right to lay a road. The board, Mr. Little and the Cucchis continued to discuss the relevance of court decisions, NH RSA and local ordinance language to the actual existence of a lot, the proposed merger and the public right-of-way. Upon the use of inappropriate language and conduct of Mr. Cucchi, Mr. Hulbert demanded that he leave the building.
The board took a brief break, resumed and postponed a decision on the Worden Voluntary Merger application until it had a chance to review all the submitted materials. The PB subsequently took up the following:
Public Hearing – Conditional Use Permit for Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), Harold C. Wolhandler and M. Margaret Monahan, 26 Tuttle Lane
Sherry Sims provided background on the purpose and enactment of the state and local ADU regulations. She explained that, in Harrisville, ADUs are allowed by right in some districts. Given that the matter before the board was a request for an ADU on lakeshore property in a detached building, the application requires a Conditional Use Permit of the PB and consideration of related criteria.
Mr. Wolhandler described their proposal to construct a one-story, 856 square-foot, cottage using the same footprint as the existing storage shed. He explained that the existing shed is one of 3 building on the property and that it would tie into the current septic system, installed in 2011, with additional piping. In addition to addressing compliance with septic and setback requirements set forth in the zoning ordinance as well as through DES, Mr. Wolhandler and landscape architect Don Scott described the proposed addition of a new well and removal of a portion of the pavement currently on the property, replacing it with native vegetation and other infiltration measures to reduce the amount of impervious cover and better manage runoff. Mr. Scott stated that the net result would be a decrease in impervious cover and all work would be well within the setbacks.
The question arose from an abutter of the exact location of a common boundary line pin. As the property line had long been in question, the abutter requested that a survey be done to confirm it. The abutter also raised a concern about density on the small lakeshore lots, especially as they shared a private road. Ms. Sims reiterated the goal of the ADU law and the Town Attorney noted that density is not an issue unless a limit is specified when the road is created. The group also discussed DES regulations in place, compliance with which is necessary prior to obtaining a DES permit.
Ned Hulbert then moved to approve the Conditional Use Permit. Courtney Cox seconded. The PB, weighing the questions and concerns and the applicant’s proposal, subsequently reviewed and considered the individual criteria for Conditional Use Permit applications as outlined in Article 29.3, including:
188.8.131.52 The specific site is an appropriate location for such use. All voted in favor;
184.108.40.206 The use as developed will not adversely affect the adjacent area. All voted in favor, with the condition that the applicant clarify the boundary line with abutters to the north.
220.127.116.11 There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians. All voted in favor.
18.104.22.168 Adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for proper operation of the proposed use. All voted in favor with the condition of prior approval, and receipt of necessary permit, from DES for well and septic.
22.214.171.124 The proposed use shall comply with all the frontage, setbacks, minimum land area, sanitary protection, signs, and parking requirements for itself or its most similar use, except where specifically waived by the board, the reasons for such waiver to be set forth in writing by the board. All voted in favor.
126.96.36.199 The proposed use shall maintain the visual and functional character, as well as aesthetic continuity, with the neighborhood. All voted in favor.
Following unanimous agreement regarding the applicant’s compliance, the PB voted yes with two conditions as highlighted above. On the question of impervious cover, Don Scott stated he would share his calculations with the abutter and with the Building Inspector.
Consultation: Earth Excavation RSA 155-E, Hillsboro Aggregates, Route 137, Map 10, Lot 6
As a result of correspondence between the PB and Hillsboro Aggregates regarding compliance with RSA 155-E, Lisa Stewart presented to the PB materials in support of the owner’s position that they hold grandfathered status for 15 acres. Such documentation included several aerial photos of the property and its active portions dating back to 1952, letters from the Harrisville and Dublin Road Agents confirming activity, tax records, current use records, correspondence from the 1991 Planning Board and, recently the Select Board, meeting minutes, excerpts from the town’s Master Plan, and notices of intents to excavate and gravel tax certificates. Lisa and Kris Stewart discussed with the board the records that are available or do not exist for the property and as such records relate to the timeline of previous ownership, how the excavation and tax laws have changed in certain years, and the different roles and responsibilities of the State and local Planning Boards in overseeing excavation activity.
Mary Pinkham Langer of the NH DRA attended to review its oversight responsibilities and to state from the DRA’s perspective that Hillsboro Aggregates has been and continues to be in full compliance with current regulations, confirming that the operator is grandfathered for 15 acres as stated by Lisa Stewart. She also explained how the DRA would enforce regulations in the event of any violation of RSA 155e or excavation requirements and that, if there was a question regarding the period of 1991 to 1998, it was up to local authorities to determine or enforce any abandonment of operations. Ms. Pinkham Langer added that, since 1998, previous owner Robert Ervin had reported continuously with the DRA and that the excavation tax was not established until that year.
Discussion ensued relating to the requirements for Alteration of Terrain (AOT) Permits. Mr. Stewart described the current plan being prepared by Field Stone which will include all the necessary AOT permit and reclamation plan information, including existing and reclaimed areas and landscaping contours. He added that the reclaimed area would include cow pastures. Mr. Stewart stated the work should be complete and the information available by the PB’s April meeting.
Sherry Sims expressed concern that the process has lacked a vehicle for public input and questions. After further discussion on this, Hillsboro Aggregates agreed with Mr. Hulbert to help address any questions or concerns in an informational way. Ms. Langer noted that, should a town decline to sign an intent to excavate, which is a tax document and not a permit, it is up to the town to cite the reasons for its position that the applicant is not in compliance.
Upon completion of discussion, Ned Hulbert moved that Hillsboro Aggregates had properly established its grandfathered status. Craig Thompson seconded. All voted in favor, with Sherry Sims abstaining for the reasons cited above about the lack of public input on the matter.
Thank you to Sherry Sims
Ned Hulbert announced that this was Ms. Sims last meeting as a member of the PB. He expressed deep gratitude for all her work and contributions over the years, and the board subsequently expressed their appreciation as well. Ms. Sims, in turn, thanked Mr. Hulbert for his support.
PB scheduled a work session for Wednesday, March 28, 7-8:30 pm to review roles and responsibilities moving forward in light of Ms. Sims’s departure.
Street light committee
Mr. Hulbert requested that a PB representative serve on the new street light committee, given that the Warrant Article passed and given his concerns that broad input be considered and that all the previous research and god work on the effort not get lost in the initiative now under way. Ryan Stone offered to attend the next meeting with Mr. Hulbert.
Meeting adjourned at 10:00 pm.