The Harrisville Planning Board held a special meeting on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, at the town office building located on Chesham Road.
Members present: Lisa Anderson Co-Chair, Ryan Stone Co-Chair, Jonathan Miner Selectman, Courtney Cox
Members absent: Ned Hulbert, Noel Greiner Alternate, Pete Thayer Alternate
Members of the public and committee members: Andrew Maneval of the Cell/Broadband Committee; Carol Ogilvie of both Cell Broadband and Ordinance Review Committees; Anne Howe; Kathy Scott; Winston Sims; Lisa Sieverts of Cell/Broadband Committee; Lee Garland of Cell/Broadband Committee, Don Scott of the Ordinance Review Committee; and Harry Wolhandler of Ordinance Review Committee
Meeting called to order at 7:07 pm.
Lisa Anderson reviewed the agenda, noting that no voting would take place during the meeting. She added that two committees have been working on proposed amendments: the Broadband/Cell committee and the Ordinance Review Committee, a subcommittee of the Planning Board.
Draft Ordinance Amendments from the Ordinance Review Committee (ORC) and Cell/Broadband Committee
Ms. Anderson distributed copies of proposed amendments drafted by the Cell / Broadband Committee and the ORC. She noted that the ORC is focused on five areas for the March 2019 Town Meeting. She explained that other, longer- term issues will take more work but will remain on the committee’s radar. The five potential amendments for 2019 include: 1) Article V – Nonconforming Uses, Lots and Structures; 2) Home Occupations and Home-Based Businesses; 3) Amend certain entries in the Definitions Section (e.g., non-conforming, in-law apartments, hardship); 4) Delete certain Definitions that are either not referenced in the Ordinance or are obsolete for current zoning purposes; and 5) Clarify impervious cover.
Carol Ogilvie, who has offered expertise to both committees as an outside consultant, explained the process and timeline for bringing the proposed amendments forward. She noted that any proposals would be presented at a public hearing and filed with the town clerk no later than the fifth Tuesday before Town Meeting. She noted that the town should anticipate the need for more than one public hearing and, by statute, a minimum of 14 days has to pass between public hearings. Ms. Ogilvie recommends thinking about scheduling hearing dates as soon as possible, to allow for feedback and the interruption of holidays. Public hearings are allowed to occur right up to the evening before the final filing date with the Town Clerk.
Andrew Maneval noted that the draft Wireless Facilities Ordinance reflects nearly three years of work by the committee following the town’s nearly universal recognition of the need for improved telecommunications services to maintain a diverse town and allow for economic development, a fundraising effort involving individuals, businesses and the town, as well as a Community Conversations to get additional input. Mr. Maneval stated that the committee feels the proposal is the most appropriate one and state of the art and he welcomed input and questions from the Planning Board. Lisa Sieverts added that the money allocated went to a feasibility study and the proposed ordinance change was the first step. She noted that the feasibility study identified possible locations that would be more ideal for locating infrastructure equipment and, though the ordinance is not limited to those places, they include the higher elevation areas of Cobb Hill, Aldworth Manor, and Wellscroft Farm. The landowners were contacted and feedback was solicited from them. While all were supportive, they also expressed interest in protecting their properties and the interests of the town.
The only feedback from PB at this time was a question about the header “Performance Standards” for 19.5, a section which addresses requirements related to the potential visual impact of wireless equipment, wondering if the title implied issues related to performance of the technology itself. Mr. Maneval suggested combining 19.5 and 19.6 under “Application Requirements.”
Ms. Anderson thanked the committee for its extensive work over the past few years. In response, Mr. Maneval recognized Lisa Sieverts and Carol Ogilvie for their extraordinary contributions. He then asked what the PB foresees as the next step. Lisa Anderson noted that the Community Conversation on proposed ordinance changes is scheduled for October 29, from which the PB would take feedback, make any further modifications to the proposed language and schedule a public hearing or hearings.
Ordinance Review Committee Proposals
The group took time to review and discuss eachsection, beginning with Article IV General Provisions, 4.1.18 and 4.1.19 related to Home Occupations and Home-Based Businesses. The group discussed the different standards required for each, the principal difference being that home occupations are characterized as having no external impact, including no adverse effect on the environment or surrounding properties.
Home Occupations– Concern was raised that the registration requirement of residents starting new home occupations was overly intrusive and the committee responded that it was a minimal requirement that puts the property owner on notice of the restrictions involved with home occupations and allows the town to keep track of and plan for the number and type of occupations. All agreed that the overall goal is to support and allow businesses while protecting neighbors and the town.
It was noted that more than one resident may conduct a home occupation or business but that each would be subject to separate restrictions and/or site plan review. Anne Howe recommended that residents with home occupations be required after a specified time to update the town on the status of their business.
Home-Based Businesses– Mr. Maneval suggested that 188.8.131.52, mandating site plan review by the PB, be removed given that it constitutes double oversight, given that the home-based business is already required to seek a special exception from the ZBA. Jon Miner asked if the proposed parking setback provision, 184.108.40.206, should be removed given that there is no existing setback requirement for parking. Further discussion surrounded the number of employees that should be allowed and whether language about part- or full-time should be added to the provision 220.127.116.11, or whether it should be up to the ZBA to make the determination. The ORC and PB will take these suggestions up at its upcoming meetings. Mr. Maneval suggested the word “nuisances” in 18.104.22.168 might be reconsidered given its legal connotation.
Article XXVI – Definitions…The goal here is to clarify the definition and make it more comprehensive. While all agreed the proposed specifications were very helpful, the group wants to make sure it doesn’t miss anything and that all aspects of nonconformity are included. The question was raised whether the word ‘building’ or ‘structure’ should be removed, using just one given their similar meaning, and/or adding the word dwelling.
Article V – Nonconforming Uses, Lots, and Structures– Ms. Anderson reminded everyone that the goal is to make the ordinances more user friendly for applicants and boards. Further on in the discussion, all noted references throughout the ordinances to the terms structures, buildings and/or dwellings and that it would help to ensure the application and meaning of the terms are consistent. All agreed ‘structure’ is all encompassing.
5.1.2under Intent, Mr. Maneval questioned the word “use” in the second sentence, given the provision addresses uses, lots and structures, and suggested broadening it, perhaps, to “nonconformities”.
5.2.2– The group couldn’t agree on the interpretation of the wording accompanying “change or expansion” and wondered what exactly the ZBA was charged with and what was required of the applicant. Ms. Ogilvie explained the test under NH case law that allows “natural but limited expansion” without oversight of the ZBA as long as the applicant makes the case to the code enforcement officer. She will add language specifying the three required criteria allowable without review. Discussion also focused on the wording “may be allowed”. The ORC will consider the matter further, possibly adding more specific language about the caselaw and offering examples of natural but limited expansion. Again, reference to the word “use” here not only involves how the property is altered but should account for the activity that goes on there (e.g., a residential property that wants to add a garden, which is natural but adds a new use).
Returning to examples of more general issues, Jon Miner mentioned the various applications of twelve months, twelve consecutive months and one year. The ORC will revisit.
5.4.Group discussed possibly moving up the language from 5.4.1 to the opening of 5.4. Ms. Ogilvie noted that lots do not enjoy the same protections under the law as uses.
Impervious cover – The goal of revising the language is to account for technological and engineering advances. Don Scott noted the difference between techniques to manage stormwater runoff vs. materials that make impervious surfaces pervious. He suggested including language addressing this in both the definition of impervious cover and in 4.1.14. The group noted the proposed language allows for exceeding the 20% threshold as long as the property owner demonstrates that proper is being employed. Mr. Sims suggested removing the double negative of “not impervious.”
The group discussed whether it made sense for jurisdiction should reside with the ZBA or the PB through a Conditional Use Permit. Ms. Ogilvie believes it makes more sense for the PB to oversee this issue. Mr. Miner raised the point that non-conformities require ZBA review.
Definitions Section– The ORC will propose removal of certain definitions and modification of others and will present these at the next PB meeting.
The next meeting of the PB is October 10.
The next ORC meeting is October 8 at 5:30 pm.
Community Conversation is scheduled for October 29 at Granite Mill from 6:30 – 8pm.
Meeting adjourned at 9:10 pm.