Zoning Board of Adjustment
Wednesday, December 20, 2023
Meeting Minutes

The Town of Harrisville Zoning Board met on Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at Town Hall, 705 Chesham Road.

Members present: Rex Baker Vice Chair, Andrew Maneval Alternate Select Board Representative, Hal Grant Alternate, Mary Ann Noyer Alternate, Edward Tibbetts Alternate
Members absent: Charles Sorenson Chair, Jeffrey Trudelle and Patrick Gagne.
Attendees: Sarah Tibbetts, Don Scott

The Vice Chair called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.

The board deferred a vote on the minutes of the previous meeting until a quorum of attendees from that meeting were present to vote.

Mr. Baker noted that, for the first matter before the board, ZBA Alternate Member Edward Tibbetts was recused and the voting members would include Hal Grant, Andrew Maneval, Rex Baker and Mary Ann Noyer.  With an even number of board members voting, Mr. Baker offered the applicants the opportunity to continue the hearing until such time as an odd number was present. The Tibbettses stated their preference to proceed.

Sarah M. & Edward Tibbetts, 19 Morse Road (Map 30 – Lot 3), appealing under RSA 676:5 an administrative decision of the Code Enforcement Officer and Select Board to withhold an Occupancy Permit, pending review by the ZBA for compliance with the ZBA’s prior granting of a special exception to replace a dwelling on the parcel.

Andrew Maneval, in attendance at the Select Board meeting at which the Code Enforcement Officer and Select Board discussed the withholding of the Occupancy Permit, explained that, while the information presented to the Select Board by the Code Enforcement Officer was correct, the Select Board hadn’t determined at that point that there was a condition, or if there was a condition, associated in the granting of the special exception.  The Select Board and Building Inspector did, however, agree on the temporary withholding of the permit based on the circumstances described.

Mr. Maneval then moved that the ZBA note it hadn’t applied a condition to the special exception granted for replacement of the structure, and that the Building Inspector and Select Board be directed to issue the Certificate of Occupancy assuming all building code requirements are met, thereby granting the property owner’s appeal of the administrative decision.  Rex Baker seconded. The board voted unanimously in favor.

To prevent such a scenario in the future, regarding board decisions and approvals, ZBA Alternate Mary Ann Noyer encouraged the board to express very specifically the basis for its decisions, and that it cite within the motions themselves any conditions, evidence or testimony presented, upon which votes are based. This way, the Code Enforcement Officer and all other Administrative Officers of the town, as well as all applicants, have the clearest understanding possible what has been approved or disapproved. The current statutory requirement that the ZBA issue a separate Notice of Decision on each application, in addition to having written meeting minutes, establishes a further level of clarity.

Mr. Tibbetts rejoined the board for subsequent items of business, as follows:

Jesse and Regina Dixon, 241 Skatutakee Road (Map 20 – Lot 57), applying for a special exception under Articles 5.3.2. and 5.3.3. to replace and expand an existing nonconforming one-story camp with a two-story dwelling, moving the structure 7 feet further from Skatutakee Lake.

Don Scott, authorized agent for the property owners, described the proposed project, referring to submitted site plans, floor plans, photographs, and survey. Existing conditions include a lakeside property of 4.21 acres with the one-story structure of 1286 square feet located approximately 25 feet from the shoreline.  The lot is entirely wooded other than impervious surfaces, and contains more than 700 ‘ of waterline frontage.

The existing camp’s location renders the structure non-conforming due to the required 75’ setback from the lake; however, the proposed location of the replacement dwelling, 7 feet further, or 32’, from the waterline, would make it less non-conforming, allowing the avenue for relief under Article 5.3.2. The property owners also propose to increase the size and volume of the house, adding a 2nd story and an additional 452 square feet of living space, thereby seeking relief under Article 5.3.3.

Addressing impervious cover, Mr. Scott cited existing impervious cover calculations of 9.3% or 17,106 square feet, comprised of the existing camp, driveway, access road, deck, day house, patio, fire pit and shed.  Proposed impervious cover would total 9.7% of the lot, well under the 30% maximum allowed under town ordinances.  Mr. Scott noted that the impervious cover numbers take into account the former section of the railroad bed at the end of Skatutakee Road, which is owned by the applicant. Additional proposed property improvements include two 24” wide infiltration beds along the house’s driplines and a 315 square foot stone infiltration bed along the lakeside facade.

Article 5.3.2. states A non-conforming structure may be replaced or relocated on the property to a more conforming location by special exception of the Board of Adjustment. Nothing herein shall prevent the replacement or relocation of a non-conforming structure to a completely conforming location on the property.

Article 5.3.3. states By special exception, a non-conforming structure may be expanded in either volume or area. This expansion must be in a direction away from the non-conforming aspect of the structure. For the purposes of this ordinance, open decks are not considered expansions; however, roofed porches are.

Mr. Scott reiterated that the proposed location reduces the non-conformity and that the proposed expansion also is in a direction further from the non-conforming aspect.  The height of the new structure would be 31’.

An application will be submitted to DES for a Shoreland Permit. A Shoreland Permit was previously issued to the owners for a perched beach and a 320 square foot day house.  Rex Baker moved to require that a revised set of plans show the updated impervious cover calculations based on the railbed. Andrew Maneval seconded. All voted in favor.

Mr. Scott stated a new septic system would be installed, increasing capacity from the existing 2- bedroom system/dwelling for the proposed 3-bedroom structure. The board confirmed that the basement of the structure is crawlspace only, most of which is in-ground, and no more than 5’ in height.

Addressing the special exception criteria under Article XX, considering the applicant’s justification for satisfying each, the board proceeded as follows: The specific site is an appropriate location for such use.  Members agreed that the existing and proposed uses remain residential with the new structure moving 7 feet south, and thus was appropriate. The use as developed will not adversely affect the adjacent area.  Given the similar use, addition of dripline beds and improved water filtration, members felt that, even with expanded volume and footprint by 452 square feet, the project would not adversely affect the adjacent area.  They further confirmed the parking area would not change. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians. With the location at the dead end road, the section of which was not a public way, the ZBA agreed the proposal would pose no nuisance or hazard. Adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use. The board agreed given that a new septic system will provide for the increased living space and additional bedroom. 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 applicant confirmed there would be no disturbances within the 20’ setback from the lake and is applying to the state for the needed permission to locate the new structure within the 50’ buffer.  The board confirmed the only waiver being applied relates to a special exception for the town’s 75’ setback requirement from the lake, but that the proposed replacement structure is less non-conforming than the existing structure.

Andrew Maneval subsequently moved, based on the conditions stated and on the proposed more conforming location, to grant a special exception under Article 5.3.2. Rex Baker seconded. The board voted 5-0 in favor.

Mr. Maneval then moved that, based on the criteria reviewed relative to the proposed expansion in volume and area, the board grant a special exception under Article 5.3.3. Hal Grant seconded. The board voted 5-0 in favor.

Mr. Scott confirmed he would submit the revised site plan based on the final impervious cover calculations.

Village Road Rebuild Project – As requested by the Road Rebuild Committee, ZBA members reviewed and discussed the town’s draft plans to rebuild Church and School Streets, and possibly Church Alley.  A warrant article will be proposed at Town Meeting to discontinue Church Alley as a town road and reclassify it as a Class B Trail for public but non-vehicular use.

The plan includes improved drainage structures, including culverts, catch basins, swales, granite curbing along a section of Church Street, road regrading, and repaving.

ZBA members discussed the need for expanded parking in town and the challenge of already increased traffic volume in the historic district, concerned that a rehabilitated St. Denis Church as a community venue would only cause further strain.

Rex Baker requested consideration by the Road Committee for a deeper bottom step or curb when granite curbing is installed, to allow for safe pedestrian access to and from the existing staircases on abutting Church Street properties.  Mr. Scott will share these concerns.

With business concluded, the meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.