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Littleton, NH 03561
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Sep 12, 2017

Approved Zoning Board Minutes - September 12, 2017


LITTLETON ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017
LITTLETON COMMUNITY HOUSE
120 MAIN STREET
6:00 PM
APPROVED MINUTES

 

 

 

PRESENT: Chairman Jessica Daine, Vice Chair Eddy Moore, David Rochefort, Ralph Hodgman, Jerry LeSage, Jim McMahon (alternate), Guy Harriman (alternate), and Joanna Ray (recording secretary)  

 

OTHERS PRESENT:  Paul Smith, Mary Chace-Smith, Bruce Hadlock, Maxine Hadlock, Schuyler Sweet, James Ramsey, James Goudreault, Casey Hadlock, Bryan Hadlock, Robert Blechl, Andrew Dorsett, and Greg Eastman

 

Chairman Daine called the meeting to order at 6:00. 

 

Mary Chase-Smith, Applicant – ZBA17-15 – Request for a Special Exception related to Article IV, Section 4.02.03 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a Home Occupation that is not listed in Section 8.04.  The applicant is proposing to have a hair salon at her home located at 231 Birchcroft Drive, tax map 92-27, in the R-2 zone.

 

The hearing notice was posted, abutters were notified, and the hearing fees were paid.  The application was accepted as complete.  There were five full voting Board members present.

 

Paul Smith presented.  Paul explained that the home occupation is for his wife, Mary.  Mary had the same home occupation at her property on the St. Johnsbury Road, but recently sold the property.  A special exception for the same home occupation was granted for her previous property.  There had been no complaints at that location and Mary did not violate the approval.  Paul stated there will be no environmental issues.  The property has its own septic.  The proposed traffic will be about 5 cars per day for 3 days per week.  There will be no alterations made to the exterior of the building.  There will be no signage.  The interior of the home has been modified.  The salon is in the basement and occupies a small area.  There will be no additional employees.

 

Vice Chair Moore stated that there is a deed covenant the does not allow a business at this property.  The Zoning Board cannot consider this covenant.  The Zoning Board can only consider the Zoning Ordinance.  Paul agreed that the covenant is a civil issue. 

 

Paul added that the water use and neighborhood impacts will be minimal.  The goal is to make sure there would be no change in the flavor of the neighborhood. 

 

Chairman Daine read the submitted responses and letter from the applicant. Paul submitted photos of the exterior of the home as well as the salon area in the basement. The only visible changes to the exterior have been a walkway to the back door.  The home is not visible until the leaves are off the trees in the fall.  The property has a long driveway that is shared with the abutters.  Chairman Daine asked if there would be product deliveries.  Mary replied that she goes to the supply store herself.  Any deliveries made are personal. 

 

Jerry asked how big the shop area is.  Mary replied that it is one chair and station.  It is very small.  Mary added that she will have a State license to operate. A State inspection will be required if the ZBA grants the special exception.  Mary explained that she has cut back her clientele due to health issues. 

 

Ralph asked Mary if she intended to look for more clientele as her current ones dwindle.  Mary replied no.   Ralph asked Paul what he considers low traffic.  Paul replied that 5 cars throughout the day is low.  Paul added that there are about 9 additional lots for development that would create an impact to traffic.  Vice Chair Moore asked what the square footage was for the salon area.  Paul replied that it takes up about 120 sq. ft., or one-fifth, of the unfinished basement.

 

David asked about the shared driveway.  Paul replied that he believes the shared driveway is not an issue.  Paul explained that Jim Ramsey was upset because he was not told about this right away.  The sale of Mary’s house and moving everything in happened very fast.  James Goudreault stated he has no objection to the proposal.

 

Jim Ramsey told the Board that the Smiths have been great neighbors with no issues.  Jim felt that he was blindsided when he heard they were putting in a salon.  He saw a couch being brought in and an entrance sign.  Jim stated he might have overreacted.  Jim has lived at this location for 40 years and bought the lot because it was quiet. He is aware of the covenants.  One issue is about safety.  Birchcroft is a dangerous road because of the curves.  There have been near collisions.  Any increase in traffic will be a real problem.  He has seen Town trucks slide in the winter.  The second issue is property values.  Jim stated that Paul has done a great job with making his house look good, but if Jim tries to sell his house the potential buyer might not like the salon being there.  Privacy was another issue.  The increased traffic is going to hinder his privacy and change the flavor of the neighborhood.  Jim has noticed a car leaving the property at 7:30 at night.  The salon hours are supposed to stop at 5:00. 

 

Bruce Hadlock spoke on behalf of Bryn Mawr Terrace.  This is the corporation that created the development.  Bruce and Maxine are also abutters.  Bruce stated this proposal will devalue the property.  He understood that the Board could not consider the mentioned covenant.  Bruce noted that there can be no parking in the joint driveway.   There will be an increase of cars on Mt. Eustis Rd. and this road was considered unsafe.  Bruce noted the upgraded septic system that the Smiths had installed. It might need a different upgrade to accommodate the salon.  Also mentioned was the fact that the salon will need to be inspected by the State.  Bruce noted that similar proposals have been denied in the past.  This proposal could lower market value for other properties because this development was not designed for business.

 

Casey Hadlock asked what the hours and days of operation would be.  Casey commented on how the road is not safe for drivers that are not familiar with it.  Mary stated the hours would be from 9 or 10 AM until 6:30 PM on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Some clients stay to visit after their appointment.  Mary added that she has not been receiving any payment from clients so that she would not be in violation.  Winter also means cancellations when the roads are bad.  Mary stated she understands the need for safety.  They also have lots of family over to visit. Casey asked the Board if the special exception stays with the property or just with the property owner.  Chairman Daine confirmed that the special exception approval stays with the property.

 

Bruce stated that the salon must comply with the Americans with Disability Act.  Mary responded that it does not have to comply.  She made a call and found out that it is up to the Town.

 

Chairman Daine stated the Board is only looking at the Zoning aspect and not what the State requirements are and if they are being followed.  The Board always tells the applicant that they must comply with all Federal and State laws.

 

Bryan Hadlock stated he was not speaking in favor or against the project.  Bryan agreed that the road is dangerous.  He also commented on the fact he has a well and is concerned with potential toxic salon products contaminating it.  Bryan said the well at the Inn on Mt. Eustis might also be affected.  Mary replied that she uses a safe line of products. 

 

No comments from Town department were submitted.

 

Paul replied to the comments made by the abutters.  The couch being brought in was for the house and not the salon.  Other items were brought in from Mary selling her other house.  If the other bedrooms in the house were full there would be more traffic coming in and out.  There will be more traffic when the rest of the lots up the road are developed.  The Mt. Eustis Rd. concern was in regards to the commercial truck traffic.  Mary’s hair products go in the trash. The septic system has been expanded but not in anticipation of this move.  Mary has purchased trees to be planted to create a border for privacy.  Jim Ramsey’s shed is actually on the Smith property.  Paul felt they should be able to use the property within reason.  This use as a home occupation has happened before in Town.  There was a business operating out of a house that was two driveways down.  There will be no difference if a client leaves their driveway at 8:00 PM or if Mary comes home at 8:00 PM.  There was no testimony about the home occupation lowering property values. Paul informed the Board that he feels all of the special exception requirements have been met. Paul asked the Board to take into consideration that Mary is moving her business here for health reasons.  The photos show no real change to the property.

 

Bruce asked Paul if the new septic system was approved for a 4 bedroom home.  Bruce feels the Board needs to know.  Chairman Daine replied that the septic approval is not relevant.

 

Jim Ramsey added that he did not want to be misrepresented.  He was joking about seeing the couch go into the house.  As for the road conditions, he almost hit a fire hydrant and mailbox one day.

 

Chairman Daine closed the public input.

 

Ralph stated he is a big fan of home business and went to visit the site.  Part B of section 8.03.01 says that the home occupation cannot generate traffic, parking, sewerage or water use in excess of what is normal in the residential neighborhood.  This is a dark, curvy road.  This business will generate traffic. Vice Chair Moore said that there will be additional traffic as the additional lots have houses built on them.  Ralph agreed, but this additional traffic is for a business.  Jerry said it will only be about 15 cars per week.  Ralph feels the applicants have met all of the other requirements.

 

Question 1. The applicant stated that the specific site is an appropriate location for such a use.  Due to health issues, working part-time from home allows the freedom to continue to work and provide the safety and security she needs.  The home occupation is part-time and does not alter the exterior of the home.

 

Ralph stated this is an appropriate home occupation especially as presented without signage. 

 

David stated that this did happen in his neighborhood, but the neighbors were so upset with the approval that the applicants did not go through with it. David also stated the space is adequate and appropriate, but he is hung up on the subjective information that was presented. The driveway is tight, but might not affect the abutters. David stated the testimony about the traffic is a concern and has not convinced him that the site is appropriate.

 

Jerry stated that he had mixed emotions on this because the location is not good for a business.  It is out of the way but he understood that there would only be 5 customers a day. 

 

Jim stated that the safety of the road was looked at when it was developed.  Jim did not think 5 extra cars per day was not a lot to him.  Abutters concerns can be addressed with conditions.

 

Question 2.  The applicant stated that property values in the district would not be reduced by such a use due to the hard work invested in the property.  It is more appealing.  There will not be any signs near the roadway advertising the occupation.  The “flavor” or the property and neighborhood will not change.

 

Jim stated that he would be more concerned if the exterior of the home had been changed. Perhaps a vegetative buffer or fence could be added.

 

David said the Board cannot prove any reduced values unless a realtor had presented some testimony. 

 

Jerry didn’t see any signs for sale in the neighborhood.  It doesn’t appear that people are looking to sell right now. 

 

Ralph said it is inconspicuous up there.

 

Question 3.  The applicant said that there would be no nuisance or unreasonable hazard resulting from this use.  The application did not list a reason why.

 

Ralph stated that the increased traffic would be an unreasonable hazard, but did not see any nuisance.

 

Jim stated there would be a nuisance if the hours were unreasonable.

 

David stated he was hung up on section 8.01 and that the neighborhood needs to be free from any nuisance.  What is the definition of nuisance?  The abutters determine that.

 

Jim voiced concerns over the septic system being a suitable size for the salon. 

 

Jerry noted that a septic inspection should be part of what the State does while inspecting the salon.  What might be a nuisance to one person, might not be to another. David agreed.  Vice Chair Moore said there is no definition for nuisance. 

 

Chairman Daine pointed out that permitted home occupations do not include anything retail or from the service industry.  Home occupations include painting, telephone answering, and cooking.  There are dangerous roads in Littleton, but there are ways to drive on them with reasonable expectations for safety. 

 

Question 4.  The applicant stated there will be adequate and appropriate facilities provided for the proper operation and maintenance of the proposed use.  The part-time occupation will not affect town sewer.  The water use is minimal and traffic will only be increased by approximately 5 cars a day for 3 days per week. 

 

Jerry made a motion to approve, without prejudice, Mary Chase-Smith, Applicant – ZBA17-15 – Request for a Special Exception related to Article IV, Section 4.02.03 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a Home Occupation that is not listed in Section 8.04.  The applicant is proposing to have a hair salon at her home located at 231 Birchcroft Drive, tax map 92-27, in the R-2 zone. There was no second to this motion.

 

Ralph made a motion to deny, without prejudice, Mary Chase-Smith, Applicant – ZBA17-15 – Request for a Special Exception related to Article IV, Section 4.02.03 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a Home Occupation that is not listed in Section 8.04.  The applicant is proposing to have a hair salon at her home located at 231 Birchcroft Drive, tax map 92-27, in the R-2 zone.  Jerry second the motion. 

 

Chairman Daine stated the Board seems to agree that the location is adequate.  David asked about parking for customers.  Chairman Daine replied that it will be one at a time.  Ralph replied that there is plenty of room.  Jerry stated the proposed will not create an unreasonable hazard for additional traffic.  Vice Chair Moore did not see this as a big problem.  Additional houses would be more of a traffic issue.  Vice Chair Moore added that the denial or approval of this case will not set a precedence.  Each case is separate.

 

The motion to deny passed 4-1.  The reason for the denial was because the Board was not convinced that a nuisance or unreasonable hazard would not result. The applicant was informed of the 30-day appeal period.  The applicant asked if they needed to come back to the Board before going to court.  Chairman Daine replied that there needs to be an appeal for a rehearing to the Board before going to court.

 

Rotobec USA, Inc., Owner / Mike Currier, Applicant – ZBA17-16 – Request for a Variance related to Article V, Section 5.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a front setback less than the required 40’ at 162 Rotobec Dr., tax map 91-54, in the Industrial zone. 

 

The hearing notice was posted, abutters were notified, and the hearing fees were paid.  The application was accepted as complete.   There were five full voting members present. No conflicts were noted.

 

Mike Currier, Operations Manager for Rotobec, presented. Rotobec has outgrown their current 23,000 sq. ft. building.  A new warehouse is needed.  It will create about 15-20 new jobs.  The new building will be about 11,250 sq. ft. with Town water and sewer.  The main building will be more manufacturing and the new building will be for warehouse storage. The Zoning Ordinance requires a 40’ front setback.  Due to the steep bank and wetlands behind the proposed building, Mike is requesting a front setback of 25’.  Rotobec is at the end of the dead end street.  There is no building across the street. 

 

Ralph asked if the building meets the side and rear setbacks.  Mike confirmed that they did.  Moving the building further back would mean going into the mountain. 

 

David asked about the lot line adjustment on the map.  Joanna confirmed that the Rotobec parcel was part of a lot line adjustment a few years ago. 

 

Ralph asked if Rotobec Drive was a private road.  Mike replied that the Town maintains it up to his property. 

 

Jim stated he would like to see a plan with the actual location of the proposed building.  Vice Chair Moore said the building will be 15’ short of the required setback.

 

Greg Eastman stated that LIDC is in favor of this project.  There were no others present to comment.  Chairman Daine closed the public input and the Board discussed the findings of the facts. 

 

Question 1.  The applicant stated the variance will not be contrary to the public interest because the building abuts Rotobec land and it is at the end of the road.  Chairman Daine stated that the general public will not be affected.

 

Question 2.  The applicant stated that the variance is consistent with the spirit of the ordinance because the building will not affect any neighbors or well-being of the public.  David added that the other setbacks are being maintained.

 

Question 3.  The applicant stated that substantial justice will be done because there will be no effect on the general public. 

 

Question 4.  The applicant stated that there will not be any effect on surrounding properties. 

 

Question 5.  The applicant stated that the proposed use is a reasonable one because Rotobec will not be able to building without this variance.  Chairman Daine agreed that the request is a reasonable one.  Jim asked if there were any department comments.  Joanna replied that there were no concerns.  The highway department will require a driveway permit.

 

Ralph made a motion to approve, without prejudice, Rotobec USA, Inc., Owner / Mike Currier, Applicant – ZBA17-16 – Request for a Variance related to Article V, Section 5.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a front setback less than the required 40’ at 162 Rotobec Dr., tax map 91-54, in the Industrial zone with the following conditions:

 

  • The front setback will be no less than 25’
  • The applicant must comply with all Federal, State, and Local regulations

 

The decision was based on the following facts:

  • The only property impacted is Rotobec and the proposed building is on a dead end road.
  • The decreased setback will not affect other properties or the general public.
  • The property values will not be decreased because the building is consistent with the Industrial Park.
  • The terrain of the land does not allow the building to be moved further back from the road.

 

Jerry second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.  The applicant was informed of the 30-day appeal period.

 

Review of minutes

July 25, 2017

Vice Chair Moore made a motion to approve the minutes as written.  Jerry second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.

 

August 8, 2017

Jerry made a motion to approve the minutes as written.  Ralph second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.

 

At 8:20, Chairman Daine made a motion to adjourn.  Jerry second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.

 

Submitted by,

Joanna Ray