The Harrisville Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, at the town office building located on Chesham Road.
Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm.
Members present: Ned Hulbert, Ryan Stone, Jonathan Miner Selectman, Noel Greiner Alternate, Lisa Marie Anderson
Members absent: Craig Thompson Alternate, Courtney Cox, Pete Thayer Alternate
Members of the public and town officials: Kathy Scott, Don Scott, Winston Sims, Carol Ogilvie, Charlie Sorenson
Attendance and voting members
Mr. Hulbert announced that the voting members present were himself, Ryan Stone, Jon Miner, Lisa Anderson and Noel Greiner.
Minutes of previous meetings 4/11, 4/30 and 5/2
Noel Greiner moved to approve the minutes of all three meetings as written. Jon Miner seconded. All voted in favor.
Approval of agenda
Ryan Stone reviewed the agenda and all voted in favor to approve.
Election of Officers
Ned Hulbert noted for the group that the Select Board had voted Lisa Anderson and Ryan Stone as voting members. He added that Mr. Stone and Ms. Anderson had been preparing to take up, alongside Mr. Hulbert, the positions of co-chairs, and that Mr. Hulbert would step down as co-chair at the September meeting. Mr. Hulbert subsequently moved to nominate Ryan Stone as co-chair. Lisa Anderson seconded. All voted in favor. Mr. Hulbert then moved to name Lisa Anderson as co-chair. Noel Greiner seconded. All voted in favor. As a final matter, Mr. Hulbert moved to nominate Pete Thayer as Secretary. Mr. Greiner seconded. All voted in favor.
Lisa Anderson stated that consultant Carol Ogilvie would present her initial assessment of the current Harrisville zoning ordinances, recommendations which would serve as the basis for the work to be undertaken by the ordinance subcommittee with Ms. Ogilvie’s guidance. Ms. Anderson noted that, at present, subcommittee members include Charlie Sorenson, Don Scott, Lisa Anderson, Jon Miner, Mary Ann Noyer and, potentially, Mike Wilder and Angela Hendrickson.
In Ms. Ogilvie’s opinion, the current ordinance is in good condition and covers all the typical bases for zoning ordinances. Her question is what the current issues are in town, such as broadband. She would also like to look more closely at the conservation subdivision ordinance and to find out from the ZBA the types of requests for variances it is receiving. She also would like to address the Definitions section, believing it may include too many definitions for uses which aren’t permitted and are therefore unnecessary. The bigger and tougher question, she believes, is how the ordinance aligns with the Master Plan. Looking at the Master Plan’s vision statement and land use objectives, Ms. Ogilvie noted that the issue of housing is most relevant to the Planning Board’s mission, particularly how, and if, the ordinance prevents sprawl and encourages more housing density. Also, the question of infrastructure and if it fosters the ability to live and work in the town. Ms. Ogilvie envisions looking at these questions, as well as issues such as lot size, housing size and frontage and other requirements, maintaining the goal of not establishing unreasonable obstacles. She noted that the Subdivision and site plan regulations would be the place to address questions that aren’t part of zoning.
Overall, Ms. Ogilvie does not see the need to start from scratch redrafting the whole ordinance. When asked her thoughts about Mr. Maneval’s draft ordinance, she agreed with the attempt to make it more user-friendly but argued that some of the substantive changes, such as eliminating the village district, may not be desirable as this district allows for an area of town with smaller lot sizes and mixed uses. Both Lisa Anderson and Ryan Stone recommended that the subcommittee use Mr. Maneval’s draft as a resource for potential ideas and suggestions.
On the matter of a potential grant opportunity from NH Housing Finance Authority, Ms. Ogilvie noted that the deadline is June 1st and an application could involve the exploration of how ordinances in a rural town such as Harrisville could be amended to accommodate a variety of housing types without having infrastructure for water and sewer. It was Ms. Ogilvie’s opinion that preparing the application would be too difficult to do for this round, but that the work accomplished this year could bolster the town’s position for a grant opportunity next year.
Lisa Anderson then reviewed that the subcommittee initially was established to address Article V, non-conforming uses, lots and structures, at the request of the Select Board and the ZBA. Charlie Sorenson explained that Article V is the single most addressed Article by the ZBA and that consistent interpretation by the ZBA of Article V, in particular, can be challenging given how the regulations are written, given lack of clarity in some areas, and given how Article V relates to other sections, such as the Definitions section. Mr. Sorenson recommended pulling all the ZBA meeting minutes of the last ten years to review where the minutes note the problematic sections for the ZBA. Mr. Hulbert noted that these issues never got brought to the PB, which is why the effort is being made to improve communication between boards. Mr. Sorenson added how difficult variances are because there is so little wiggle room in light of the state regulations. He agreed with Ms. Ogilvie that tweaking the ordinances, rather than a large-scale rewrite, was the recommended approach.
It was agreed that the PB would finalize its strategy for the ordinance revision working group in the next month, with Ms. Ogilvie recommending the particular areas of focus. Ms. Ogilvie offered to draft a memo outlining the proposed scope of work, possibly involving four distinct areas, such as variances, housing, definitions and conservation subdivision sections. Discussion of a possible Broadband ordinance and the June 19 Community Conversation on the topic, was also considered and deemed to be separate but also related. Charlie Sorenson asked the group also to consider the general ordinances and whether the basic requirements for setbacks in the various districts, and for standards such as impervious cover, realistic and desirable to maintain given their strictness? He wondered if increasing opportunities for special exceptions makes sense so property owners don’t have to apply for variances as often as is necessary under the current ordinances. Impervious cover calculations and new technologies and materials allowing for more permeability were cited as examples of reasons to be less strict.
The subcommittee agreed it would meet Monday, June 18 at 3:00 pm at town offices to further define its scope of work in the year ahead. Ms. Ogilvie stated she would send her suggestions for recommended starting points in writing tomorrow, May 10, to Lisa Anderson.
Worden Voluntary Merger update
Mr. Hulbert noted he had received two letters indicating that the attorneys for both sides are communicating with each other and that the PB will receive a copy of the correspondence. The PB reiterated that no action would be taken until it hears from Ms. Worden.
Broadband / Cell Study group: Community Conversation June 19
Mr. Hulbert noted that Carol Ogilvie had started working with the group, which wants to vet the tower ordinance suggested by Interisle with the larger community. He added that four possible locations have been proposed for cell sites. The broadband group will meet a couple of times before June 19 to finalize its proposed design. Mr. Hulbert asked for two volunteers to help with logistics, such as posters, email letter, sound system, and food. Lisa Anderson offered to help with the planning and Ryan Stone will arrive early to help on the night of the event. Babysitting is included in the $5 fee.
Report on Hillsborough Aggregates site visit of May 2: Map 10 Lot 6, re: Reclamation Plan
Ryan Stone summarized that attendees to the site visit were shown the pit area, work areas and the areas of the property to be reclaimed. The site plans are available for viewing by the public and the owners are filing the paperwork with the state for their AOT (Alteration of Terrain) Permit. The group reviewed the locations of the test pits and the 15-acre area that is grandfathered, and it was noted that the excavation is occurring three feet above the water table.
Brief Updates: other current activities and resources
NHMA courses available – Mr. Hulbert noted that PB members should notify him, Ryan Stone or Lisa Anderson if they want to attend in order to get enrolled and reimbursed.
PB resources – Co-chairs hope to have a vertical file of all applications and available materials installed and available in the meeting room in the coming months. A white board is also coming for ease of presentation and visibility by attendees.
Transportation committee – Ned Hulbert noted the committee would meet with the SB next Thursday 5/17 to discuss Safe Routes to School, potential crosswalks and radar signs, the intersection of Route 137 and Hancock Road and the No Left Turn from Main Street into the General Store parking lot. The group is working with the school, the DOT, the Police Chief and the Road Agent. Additionally, Mr. Hulbert noted the town is eligible for a cut of a MAST implementation grant.
HCC – Harry Wolhandler requested that the ordinance subcommittee and Carol Ogilvie look at opportunities for groundwater protection, surface water protection and wetlands protection as they review the regulations for possible changes.
Meeting adjourned at 8:35 pm.