Zoning Board of Adjustment
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
The Harrisville Zoning Board of Adjustment held a regularly scheduled meeting and public hearing on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 at town offices.
Members present: Chairman Charles Sorenson, Vice Chairman Rex Baker, Select Board Representative Andrew Maneval, Jeff Trudelle, Patrick Gagne, and Alternates Pegg Monahan and Hal Grant
Members of the public: Don Scott, John Richardson, Erin Hammerstedt, Lee Garland, Suzanne Richardson, and Harry Wolhandler
Agenda and voting members
Mr. Maneval noted that, following his appointment to the Select Board as an interim member, the Select Board named him the Select Board Representative to the ZBA. Chairman Sorenson noted this, subsequently stating that the voting members for the evening were himself, Rex Baker, Andrew Maneval, Jeff Trudelle and Patrick Gagne.
Mr. Sorenson then announced the matter before the board and the process for the public hearing, which would include a presentation by the applicant, comments from abutters, the closing of the public hearing, and deliberation by the board.
Akhil and Lee Garland, 9 Island Street, Map 32 – Lot 24 – applying for a special exception under Article 5.3 to relocate an existing open deck three feet 2 inches further back from Harrisville Pond, to cover and screen in this deck, and, separately, to double the width of the existing driveway to 22’. The lot is non-conforming due to lot size, amount of impervious surface, and setbacks. It is a waterfront parcel in the Village and Historic Districts.
Don Scott, representing the Garlands, showed aerial and street-level photos, and plans of existing conditions. He noted that the property owners propose no changes to the beach or to the 18’ x 18’ dimension of the deck. Additionally, where the existing deck sits will become a pervious garden area.
Mr. Scott then described the proposed removal of the existing concrete patio, with the exception of a 10’ x 10’ section to be reserved for a possible future hot tub. The removal of 515 square feet of patio would reduce the overall impervious surface calculation slightly, when factoring in 425 square feet of additional driveway surface.
Board members asked for clarification on the impervious surface calculations. Mr. Scott stated that existing conditions include an impervious surface percentage of 45.6 %, which would be reduced to 45.4% under proposed conditions. Under town zoning ordinances, the maximum impervious cover allowed is 30%. Members and the applicant discussed that, though a pervious surface is proposed for the new driveway, town ordinances do not recognize pervious materials for calculation purposes; under town regulations, all driveways fall within the definition of impervious. The state, however, does account for pervious technology and, under state calculation methods, the impervious cover percentage would be 38.7. The applicants stated that, even if under local regulations they can’t be credited for decreased impervious cover, they feel the proposal offers an environmental improvement.
Mr. Scott further described that improved filtration through the stone bed driveway would help intercept storm and surface water runoff, which currently sheet flows across Island Street.
Akhil Garland spoke to their current parking situation which causes them to bounce between others’ lots. For this factor of convenience, as well as for aesthetic purposes, they would like to keep their cars off the street, and also to replace the tent they currently use by the pond with the proposed screened in porch.
A lengthy discussion ensued regarding porch design. The applicants had not submitted architectural drawings, as they had not finalized details. They did note that the Historic District Commission and Historic Harrisville, which has preservation covenants on the property, would need to review the proposal, as would DES, but the Garlands first hoped for ZBA review before submitting those applications.
Board members discussed which town ordinances most directly address the proposed project and reviewed Article V related to non-conforming structures; they also considered the potential relevance of Article 9.1.6 but determined that the provisions for the Village Residential district were the applicable provisions.
Conservation Commission Chairman Harry Wolhandler spoke to the proposed changes as positive given the improved water filtration. He noted that Don Scott had presented the proposal, on an informational basis, to the Conservation Commission at its previous meeting.
Abutter John Richardson stated he understood the driveway predicament and didn’t have an issue with this aspect; however, he expressed concern about the height of the proposed screened-in porch given its location in his viewshed as well as its impact on the most private section of his parcel. He also is concerned about the idea of a hot tub in such close proximity to the property line. During discussion, the board agreed that the siting of a hot-tub leads to appropriate questions of appropriate location of expansion.
The board discussed that the subject property is already very much out of compliance with the existing ordinances and questioned whether any modifications were allowable, even if to slightly reduce impervious cover. They also wondered whether convenience was a convincing enough argument to permit the expanded driveway, and whether or not a variance would need to be addressed. Mr. Sorenson and Mr. Maneval stated different opinions on whether or not impervious cover is a condition that can or should be grandfathered, while Mr. Maneval believes that overall lot compliance with impervious cover is what counts.
Board members and the abutter returned to the question of the height of the proposed porch and the visual impact of adding the screened porch to the existing house. ZBA members, looking at the photos submitted, felt that without detailed information and architectural drawings, determining actual visual impact was not possible. Mr. Sorenson pointed to the challenge this presents of meeting the special exception criteria under Article 188.8.131.52, The use as developed will not adversely affect the adjacent area. He stated that more details of the exact location of the porch, specifically regarding its height needed to be provided in order for the board to weigh the impact.
Following additional discussion about whether or not a procedure was in place to modify applications at the board’s and applicant’s agreement, the board concluded the application presented could not be modified during the hearing to remove the request for the screened-in porch. The applicant, however, does have the right to submit a separate application just for the driveway and removal of the concrete patio. The Garlands stated that the driveway was the priority.
At 8:06 pm, the Board Chair closed the public hearing portion to discuss the questions at hand. The board considered further whether or not enough information was presented to vote on the application. All agreed a new application was needed, even if the impervious cover calculations wouldn’t change with removal of the porch proposal. Board member Rex Baker asked the applicants, if they decide to submit a new application for the porch, to please include an architectural impact drawings from the abutter’s perspective.
The board subsequently moved to deny the special exception, advising the applicant that they can reapply for the whole project with more detail or apply for just an expanded driveway if decide just to pursue that. There was no second on the motion. Following additional discussion, the Garlands notified the board of their decision to withdraw the application.
Meeting minutes of November 2021
The board moved and voted in favor to approve the minutes of the November meeting.
Mr. Maneval asked to note a request to the Planning Board to consider the question of whether or not an application can be amended and what the process should be for that.
The meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm. `