The Harrisville Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at the Fire Department building located on Chesham Road.
Members present: Ryan Stone Co-Chair, Lisa Anderson Co-Chair, Kathy Scott Select Board Alternate Representative, Courtney Cox, Pete Thayer, Don Scott Alternate, Ned Hulbert, Noel Greiner
Members of the public: Carol Ogilvie, Doug Norman, John Miner, Andrew Maneval, Judy Martin, Guy Pettis, Jenn Pettis, Sherry Sims, Winston Sims, Kathy Bollerud, Erin Hammerstedt, Christine Destrempes, Harry Wolhandler, Mary Day Mordecai, Charles Foucher, Pamela Worden, Donna Sprague, Alison Weber, Richard Lavatori, John Cucchi, Anne Cucchi
Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm.
Attendance and voting members
Co-Chair Ryan Stone stated that the voting members were himself, Lisa Anderson, Kathy Scott, Courtney Cox and Ned Hulbert.
Approval of agenda
Following review of the agenda and the proposal to add two additional items under new business, all members voted in favor to approve.
Minutes of previous meeting 10/9/19
All voted in favor to approve the Planning Board Minutes of October 9th, with Kathy Scott abstaining due to absence.
Public Hearing on Proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendments for 2020 Town Meeting
Following explanation of the Public Hearing process and the process of preparing the draft amendments, Co-Chair Lisa Anderson introduced Carol Ogilvie to present them. Ms. Ogilvie explained the PB’s mandate regarding priority articles, and the effort to gain public input on proposed amendments via the November 5thCommunity Conversation and two public hearings. Following consideration of suggested changes stemming from these meetings, the committee will prepare the final Zoning Amendment ballot for the March Town Meeting.
Ms. Ogilvie explained that the committee could not change any language between the time of the Community Conversation and this evening’s public hearing as the Public Notice with the draft amendments had already been posted; however the committee would be able to incorporate feedback and/or revise language suggested at the November 5th gathering and this first public hearing in time for the second public hearing on December 11th,if the committee feels the suggested changes are in the town’s best interest.
Subsequently, Ms. Ogilvie explained the proposed revisions related to the Definitions Section:1) To revise the definition of the term “dwelling” to bring it more in line with the state’s building code. Ms. Ogilvie explained that, at this time, no further changes related to defining dwellings would be proposed, as the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance is still new and the ORC is disinclined to make substantive changes prior to giving adequate time to assess what might be warranted; 2) To revise the definition of “structure” to further distinguish between permanent and temporary structures, as these are treated differently throughout the ordinance. Andrew Maneval suggested further clarifying the language related to permanent and temporary as he sees an overlap in its current writing. Mr. Maneval also recommended adding specificity to the existing phrase “designated time period”, and outlining who would designate such time. The committee will consider these; and 3) To amend the definition of “impervious cover” by striking the last line to make it consistent with the proposed amendment to the provision (see below).
For Article XX, a housekeeping item, the ORC proposes removing the Special Exception requirement before the ZBA since the new Personal Wireless Service Facilities Article adopted at the March 2019 Town Meeting now requires a Conditional Use Permit process before the Planning Board;
On the ADU ordinance, the ORC proposes to strike the word “existing” to allow the possibility of ADUs on new construction and to be consistent with the intent of state law. Secondly, the committee proposes to condense the purpose statement and to include in it a reference back to the Master Plan;
The draft amendment language for the Impervious Cover provision aims to simplify the process for applicants and for the ZBA by outlining a threshold allowance of 30%. This is higher than currently allowed, but eliminates the potentially subjective language about various infiltration techniques and surfaces designed to reduce the impact of runoff. Sherry Sims expressed concern that increasing the impervious cover allowance won’t offer the same protection that exists now. She emphasized particular concern about runoff on shoreland properties. Don Scott explained the difficulty of trying to assess and manage various infiltration systems without adequate staffing or resources. He also pointed to the state’s oversight of the shoreland permitting process. Winston Sims asserted there is no science undergirding the committee’s proposal and that the proposal lacked provisions to address off-property runoff. The committee again noted it maintains a list of all suggested revisions for consideration.
Ms. Ogilvie then reviewed a proposed new ordinance for Solar Energy systems that would serve residents or businesses. Having reviewed several examples of other towns’ regulations, the ordinance committee settled on a simple approach, which would allow by right an accessory system to a house or business. Any proposed commercial system, involving the sale of energy, would require a two-tier review process by the PB and ZBA. The ORC is still considering feedback from the public and working on language related to setbacks, square footage limitations, and orientation. Comments and questions surrounded the concept of net-metering and the sale of energy back to a utility company in different ways. Attendees also asked about size restrictions, adding a special exception requirement for the lakeside district, and making consistent, or removing language around “associated roof-mounted hardware”. Mr. Maneval questioned whether, based on the proposed language, commercial solar activities would have to be in a commercial or industrial zone or whether the committee feels existing language regulating commercial activities in general covers this. He also asked about consistency between the chart and the provision requiring a special exception for a 1,000 square foot system. Mr. Maneval expressed that his biggest concern was the wording “Site Plan Review Approval’ rather than Site Plan Review accompanying the special exception requirement, such that approval or decision would come from one board and not two.
For the Sign Ordinance– Lisa Anderson and Mr. Maneval explained that this ordinance was being revisited in light of the Supreme Court decision surrounding free speech and municipalities’ inability to discriminate based on the content of signs. As ordinances related to signs must be content neutral, the ORC proposes eliminating all references to the word “advertising”; separately the committee also proposes restructuring some of the existing language for clarity and proposes allowing certain types of internally illuminated or externally illuminated possibly by Special Exception. In addition, they propose to reduce setback requirements from side property line. Discussion surrounded height and dimensional restrictions. Separately, Mr. Maneval recommended adding “residents” to the purpose statement, 17.1, which the committee will do. He also addressed the language in 17.2.9, asking if the committee means that as literally as it states that temporary signs are not subject to the regulations. The ORC will review.
The next ORC meeting will be scheduled prior to the next PB meeting. Twelve days are needed to post the public hearing notice, and the next Public Hearing will be on Dec 11th at 7:00 pm.
The PB Chair moved to amend the agenda to allow committee updates as the applicants for the next agenda item hadn’t yet arrived. All voted in favor.
Broadband– Mr. Maneval noted the BB committee is close to proposing to the SB a draft RFP designed along lines of the Chesterfield and Dublin models, but not limited to those. The committee hope to meet with the SB tomorrow. The RFI response from Consolidated shows a served rate of 22.8% served rate, far below an upper limit for submitting an SB170 application, and possibly more underserved than alleged. The committee is proposing to address the needs of the whole town, while considering providers’ needs. It hopes the PB will support the recommendation of the BB committee, especially before the RFP goes out. Because of the tight timeframe, it appears a Special Town Meeting may be required. Subsquently, Noel Greiner moved to support the Broadband Committee’s recommendations and plans to proceed with an RFP and to move forward with the Select Board. Ned Hulbert seconded. All voted in favor.
Transportation Committee – Mary Day Mordecai briefed the PB on 3 projects: 1) the crosswalk; 2) the school safety zone; and 3) improving visibility at 137/Hancock Road.
On the crosswalk, the engineering study will happen, and the committee hopes for a grant from the Harrisville Community Fund to help defray the cost. The TC also will request additional funds via Common Threads The committee hopes the whole study is completed by the end of December so that potential construction costs can be included in the 2020 budget.
On the subject of Route 137 and Hancock Road, Sargent Camp residents asked about potential signage and TC activity. Ms. Mordecai and the committee will meet separately with these residents to collaborate.
Subdivision Application of John and Anne Cucchi (Loyd Lane)
Following an explanation of the review of the Cucchi’s application for completeness by herself and Peter Thayer, Courtney Cox moved that the PB vote to accept the subdivision application as complete. Ned Hulbert seconded. All voted in favor.
Subsequently Noel Greiner restated he recused himself from the application hearing proceedings, as he is an interested abutter. Then Co-Chair Ryan Stone restated that the voting members present include himself, Lisa Anderson, Courtney Cox, Ned Hulbert and Kathy Scott. In response to a letter submitted to the PB by John and Anne Cucchi requesting recusal of various members, Lisa Anderson explained her consultation with the New Hampshire Municipal Association on the subject. Ms. Anderson explained the lack of statutory requirement on recusal; instead that it is a personal decision by members whether they feel they have a conflict of interest, such as a personal or financial stake, regarding the outcome of a project. The RSA referenced is 673:14. Ms. Anderson then read aloud the letter submitted by the applicants:
Dear Planning Board,
Per RSA 673:14, we are respectfully requesting that Kathy Scott, Don Scott, Andrea Hodson and Ned Hulbert recuse themselves from voting and participating on the board in our subdivision application. We certainly welcome their participation; against or for anything we do, but out in the audience, not sitting as a voting member on the board.
The reasons are as follows:
Anyone affiliated with Historic Harrisville Incorporated or Harrisville Conservation Committee has had a monetary interest in our property and not developing it, as well as devaluing it. This request also goes with anyone associated with Historic District Commission.
Someone impersonated John Cucchi in an appraisal done by Historic Harrisville Incorporated with Winston Sims. Also Ned and Les LaMois are Trustees, and although we are not accusing them of anything, we feel it appropriate for Ned and Andrea to recuse themselves due to some audio recordings we have that are part of an Attorney General investigation and some civil aspects we are forced to deal with.
Kathy and Don Scott recently took it upon themselves to deny a building permit and ignored 2 engineering reports we did on our property that were part of a condition placed on it. They attempted to even expand it beyond anything imposed on us, with following “Don’s” designs.
We want it on record that we have been forced to do multiple engineer tests that are being ignored. Why is that? Because as Winston Sims states in an audio recording in an HCC meeting regarding us, “that’s an easy way to drive the applicant to the ground.” We understand through the local government center’s attorney that people who ignore professional engineer reports and are not actual professions themselves can be held personally liable.
We feel we have been completely against by certain members of certain boards over the years due to them attempting to devalue our property and intimidate us from our property rights, due to the illegal drinking water source, the “town spring”. We do not want to get into details unless requested to, but sincerely hope our request is considered and we can move forward with our subdivision application in an untainted way.
We respectfully feel is best that these individuals recuse themselves. Their recusals may also help prevent legal costs to the town.
John & Anne Cucchi
Courtney Cox requested the Cucchis to redact the last sentence, which the Cucchis agreed to do. The PB then moved and voted in favor to accept the letter into the record as amended.
In an effort to clarify, Mr. Hulbert stated he was very briefly a Trustee of HHI, but is no longer. He also was curious what the audio recordings would say about him, as he feels he has bent over backwards to help the Cucchis. Mr. Cucchi and Mr. Hulbert discussed claims of the Cucchis related to past applications but Mr. Hulbert did not agree with the statements and stated he would remain a voting member. Subsequently, Mr. Greiner, an abutter, restated his decision to recuse himself. Mr. Scott did not recall denying Mr. Cucchi’s building permit. He disputed Mr. Cucchi’s claim.
Lisa Anderson then further clarified reasons why an individual might recuse him/herself.
Mr. Scott felt he could be completely impartial, as did Ms. Anderson. Mr. Stone did not comment as he was not named. Kathy Scott disagreed with the Cucchis’ claims in the letter, that there was no denying of a permit; instead she attempted to work with the Cucchis to help their project move along, which is what ‘s happening. Using the juror’s standards, Ms. Scott also feels she’s impartial. Ms. Cox and Mr. Thayer also stated they would sit and hear the application. Mr. Greiner subsequently removed himself from the table to sit with the public. The voting members remained as previously named.
Ryan Stone exhibited a digital version of the plot plan and Anne and John Cucchi displayed the drawings on the table for the board and public to view. Anne Cucchi showed the existing lot proposed to be subdivided, which totals 7+ acres. The lot fronting Dublin Road will contain 4.32 acres, with frontage of 250 feet. The 3.02 acre parcel will have frontage of 204 feet on Skatutakee Road. The plat depicts the well radius, delineated wetlands, septic area, driveway, and proposed house location, yet to be finalized. Members and the public viewed the plat drawings prior to questioning the applicants.
Mr. Hulbert asked the Cucchis to clarify the current lot configuration. Board members confirmed compliance with all setbacks, including from the lake, well and septic and wetlands. They further determined the lots contain adequate road frontage, and comply with steep slopes and wetlands regulations. Anne Cucchi reminded the board of the high intensity soils survey prepared for their previous application.
Ned Hulbert asked if there is any current thinking, or change in thinking, regarding baseline environmental data around stormwater runoff that would affect this application. Kathy Scott explained the engineering and drainage work done to address this when the road was regraded and brought up to specification to meet the town’s conditions for approval. Regarding the wetlands ordinance and inability to use very poorly drained soils to meet minimum lot size, board members were comfortable that this was not an issue given the sizes of the proposed lots.
Winston Sims mentioned a hydrogeologic study on the feeding of town spring and an important aquifer, that the spring is not just a single source, and wondered if the board has considered this and was aware of the study. Following additional discussion of the exact location of the spring and the more than 10 acres of undeveloped land surrounding it, members did not feel the proposal poses a risk. Pamela Worden and Kathy Bollerud asked additional questions expressing concern about additional development near the aquifer and which town body is responsible for protecting the Spring. PB members pointed to the Master Plan and their responsibility to help address the protection of clean water should that be a priority voiced by the town, but that the board could merely advise. Ultimately the Select Board, as owner of the property on which the spring sits, and the town would need to vote on any specific initiative to protect the spring itself. An additional comment was made that a condition was placed about no clearing on an earlier subdivision, and it was confirmed that this was because of the spring.
As there were no additional questions, Ryan Stone closed the public hearing. Courtney Cox then moved to approve the subdivision application as submitted. Ned Hulbert seconded. The vote was 5-0 in favor. A Notice of Decision will be forthcoming from the PB, after which signed plats will go to the Cheshire County Registry of Deeds. The Cucchis submitted the payment balance for application fees and noticing.
The PB then continued with the following matters:
Ned Hulbert discussed a new initiative underway to permit Community Power aggregation. Clean Energy NH is leading the way to promote this concept in the Monadnock Region, whereby municipally controlled power companies, which can buy their own power, (transmission cost is separated from the energy supplier cost could be formed. Mr. Hulbert will attend a meeting in Concord on the subject. Mr. Hulbert noted that in California, 40% of the state is covered by community power entities, allowing for more local control and reduced use. Hanover and Lebanon are working on doing this in the next two years. Erin Hammerstedt requested that Mr. Hulbert ask how this would work with power generators, whether solar or hydro. Mr. Maneval noted another bill in the legislature that would allow regional approaches, this for Broadband, SB 386.
With no further business, members moved to adjourn at 9:25 pm.