Town of Harrisville
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Harrisville Zoning Board of Adjustment held a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at the Town Offices, 705 Chesham Road.

Members present: Hal Grant, Chairman; Charles Sorenson, Vice Chairman; Rex Baker; Patrick Gagne; Andrew Maneval, Alternate; Jay Jacobs; Pegg Monahan, Alternate

Members absent: Jeffrey Trudelle

Members of the public: Applicants Tom and Sue Weller; Charles Michal; Don Scott; Erin Hammerstedt

The chair opened the meeting at 7:30 pm to address the following matter:

Tom and Sue Weller, 124 Main Street (Map 30 – Lot 69-2), applying for a special exception under Article 5.3.3 of the Zoning Ordinances. Mr. Weller explained that twelve years ago they had applied for and received a special exception for this project, which was subsequently put on hold. The applicants have reapplied, proposing to remove a temporary garage and construct a new 3-car garage with an attached woodshed. The property is a non-conforming lot located in the village residential district.

Mr. Weller described the proposed structure as 30 x 40 feet, with 3-bays. One of the bays will be for car restoration and a woodshop, hobbies of Mr. Weller. The lot is non-conforming in that its square footage is 500 square feet less than the 35,000 square feet required; in addition, the lot frontage is 110’, whereas the minimum required in the district is 150 feet. Mr. Weller stated that otherwise he believes the proposal meets all the appropriate setback requirements, as well as coming under the impervious cover limit with 21% of cover compared to the 30% limit now in place. The existing impervious cover is calculated at 19%.

If approved the Wellers will disassemble and remove the following: the currently situated temporary garage, as well as two other temporary structures, a woodshop and hoop house/gazebo. The latter will be used to store materials during construction but then removed. Another temporary structure, used to protect the applicant’s classic car, also will be removed once the new structure is built.

Additional improvements will include infiltration beds to manage stormwater. Currently, water runs off the rear of the property into wetlands that lie adjacent. The Wellers hope now to keep this water on the property with approximately 1500 feet of crushed stone. With these improvements to their property, the applicants also believe the property values in the neighborhood would be increased.

Mr. Well stated that the proposed garage would be 16 feet away from the closest neighbor to the south and 50’ from the road, where 15’ and 25-feet setbacks, consecutively, are required. It will be one-story high, with an asphalt roof, architectural shingles and shiplack siding. Mr. Weller shared views from the street, noting the attempt to scale it back. The 10 x 12 garden shed attached to the back is included in the building calculations.

In addressing the submitted site plan and drawings, Mr. Weller first pointed out the existing conditions, including the locations of the temporary structures which will be removed, the well and the septic, the driveway. He pointed out the surfaces included in the impervious cover calculation and the pervious gravel infiltration surfaces. Mr. Weller then noted the infiltration trenches and drip edges and how the stormwater currently flows and will flow once construction is complete. He added that two catch basins also will be installed by the main house.

Charles Sorenson clarified why the application was for a special exception, not a variance, and confirmed that the reason for the special exception was the nonconforming nature, including the size of the lot and the existing frontage. Mr. Sorenson added that another reason a variance wasn’t required was the Wellers meet the impervious cover threshold. Don Scott asked if the board would consider that the proposal would make the lot less nonconforming. Mr. Sorenson noted the board would look at that in reference to the special exception criteria. Don Scott cited three ways he believes the project leads to greater conformity: first, the fact that the garage will be further from the road; second, the added infiltration measures will treat the water running off surfaces and keep it on site; and third the property will be more visually appealing. Mr. Sorenson noted the points were well taken.

Erin Hammerstedt asked about the fact that the new slab would be 18’’ higher, and how this would look. Using the site plan, Don Scott explained the location of the existing watershed and water flow which is comparable to a bowl with the water having only one exit route. The raised slab will push the water and instead dissipate the water flows into new drainageways. Mr. Weller confirmed the representations submitted were to scale, with topography factored in.

With no further questions, Hal Grant closed the public portion of the meeting. He noted the voting members on the application were Mr. Sorenson, himself, Jay Jacobs, Pegg Monahan and Andrew Maneval. Mr. Gagne and Mr. Baker were recused.

Andrew Maneval turned to Article 5.4.1, which he believed was applicable as it addresses expansions in volume or area of structures on nonconforming lots. Mr. Sorenson agreed there was no change in use, but stated it was a nonconforming building by nature of being on a non-conforming lot. Mr. Sorenson believed Article 5.3 was more applicable and cited the relevant language. He wondered if adding a garage constituted the expansion of a structure. Mr. Maneval restated his opinion that the structure itself isn’t nonconforming, but that the lot is. Mr. Sorenson didn’t believe this mattered and that Article 5.4 takes them back to Article 5.3 anyway. Mr. Jacobs recommended using both Articles. He and Mr. Maneval hope the Planning Board can clarify this distinction. The board agreed the standards are the same and the test is the same. The Chair then asked the applicant if they were in agreement that the application should be for a special exception from Articles 5.3.3 and 5.4.1. They were. Mr. Michal didn’t want the record to reflect that the Wellers had a nonconforming structure, because he doesn’t think this is accurate.

Mr. Maneval then moved that the ZBA approve the application subject to the finding that each of the conditions for a special exception are met. The motion was seconded. Mr. Grant then read through the five criteria for a special exception from Article XX as follows: The specific site is an appropriate location for such use. The board unanimously agreed. The use as developed will not adversely affect the adjacent area. The board unanimously agreed. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians. The board unanimously agreed. Adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use. The board unanimously agreed, reiterating that the applicant would pursue the necessary DES and building permit requirements. 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. The board unanimously agreed, additionally agreeing with Mr. Sorenson who specified that the board was waiving the minimum land area and frontage, but nothing else.

Having voted unanimously in favor on each condition, the board thus approved the application, and the Chair gave a signed copy to the applicants, thanking them for their submission. In addition, the applicants were thanked for sharing all the relevant information well in advance of the hearing.

As there was no new business, the meeting adjourned at 8:20 pm.