Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Oct 11, 2019

Draft Zoning Board Minutes - September 10, 2019


 

LITTLETON ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
LITTLETON COMMUNITY CENTER
120 MAIN STREET
LITTLETON, NH 03561
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2019
6:00 PM
DRAFT

 

PRESENT:  Vice Chair Jerry LeSage, Ralph Hodgman, David Rochefort, George Morgan, and Joanna Ray (recording secretary)

 EXCUSED:  Chair Jessica Daine and Jim McMahon

 OTHERS:  Zoning Officer Milton Bratz, Andy Smith, Jason Cape, Robert Clark, and Yvonne Clark

Vice Chair LeSage called the meeting to order at 6:00.  George was designated a voting member for tonight.

 Robert & Yvonne Clark, Owners / Peabody & Smith Realty, Agent – ZBA19-11 – Request for a Variance related to Article XI, Section 10.01.04, of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a 4th dwelling unit at 17 Union Street, tax map 79-32, in the C-I zone.

No conflicts of interest were noted.  The hearing fees were paid and the hearing was properly noticed.  Vice Chair LeSage read the submitted facts from the application:

Granting the variance will not be contrary to the public interest because the neighborhood the house is located in consists of mainly multi-family units, most of do not meet the minimum sq. ft. requirement in Section 10.  Littleton needs more affordable housing located in walking distance to town center and this would be a positive for housing needs.

If the variance were granted, the spirit of the ordinance would be observed because the current tax card has the house situated on 15,682 sq. ft., or 98% of the required plot size per the zoning criteria.  Because the house would not need to expand the footprint to add a fourth unit, no real changes will be necessary.  The house would be returning to an earlier configuration that had 4 units.

Granting the variance would do substantial justice because the home has had a 4th unit in the past and is among homes that are being used as multi-family residences.  The additional unit will provide more affordable housing in the downtown area.  There are no negative impacts.

If the variance were granted, the values of the surrounding properties would not be diminished because homes on both sides are multi-family residences currently and the change would not result in any significant change to use than the current 3 family residence.  No bedrooms or kitchens are being added, only separating a larger residence into 2 smaller units.

Unnecessary hardship

Owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area, denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship because:

No fair and substantial relationship exists between the general public purposes of the ordinance provision and the specific application of that provision to the property because the ordinance is meant to preserve the current quality of life of Littleton citizens by limiting large developments from crowding onto land not sufficient for the purpose. Granting the variance will have minimum impact on Littleton citizens.  No new bedrooms are being added.

The proposed use is a reasonable one because the return to a 4th unit only adds to more housing options and the property is 98% in compliance with the zoning requirement.

The hardship exists for the Clarks, who have raised a family in the home, and would like to sell the home and downsize to another residence.  With multi-family homes on either side, not having the variance limits the pool of buyers for the house.

Andy Smith presented the application. The building had 4 units in the past.  It was also a group home.  The last 20 years have had the same density but a different combination of units. Adding the fourth unit back in will only require adding some walls. Most of the homes around this one do not meet the minimum density requirement.  This property is very close.  Based on the Zoning Ordinance’s definition of the purpose of the commercial zone, this is a very reasonable request. This meets the intent and spirit of the ordinance.  There is plenty of parking onsite and has a garage to park four.  No on-street parking is needed and will not add to the burden of parking in Town. This is basically blocking off a couple doors.

George noted the property card stated there were only three bathrooms.  Robert confirmed there are four full bathrooms.  The last ten years, there have been three units.  One of the units has two bathrooms. Prior to 1985, there were four units.

Vice Chair LeSage asked if granting this variance would make the building better to sell.  Robert replied that it would allow the new owner to have better rental income.  Andy added that the size of the main unit is very big. The new unit will be a one bedroom.

Andy identified the location of the ingress and egress for the apartments. There is a fire alarm system.  The application erroneously identifies that Planning Board approval and a building permit will be needed for this project.  These are not required.

George noted that this use is similar to the apartment building next door.  David added that this use is classic to downtown Littleton.

Nobody was present to comment.  The public input was closed. All Board members agreed with the findings of the facts.  David stated the applicant did a good job summarizing the project.  There were no abutters present to dispute the fact that this will not diminish property values. David noted that the previous 4-unit building did not need permission to be reduced to 3 units, but returning it back is a hardship to the owners. The ordinance is to curb large developments on similar size lots.  This proposed change will not change the density of the lot.  Ralph added that Littleton is full of multi-family homes that do not meet these requirements.  A variance will get them back to where they should be.

David made a motion to approve Robert & Yvonne Clark, Owners / Peabody & Smith Realty, Agent – ZBA19-11 – Request for a Variance related to Article XI (corrected to Article X), Section 10.01.04, of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a 4th dwelling unit at 17 Union Street, tax map 79-32, in the C-I zone.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment agree with the submitted findings of facts and found that there was no fair and substantial relationship existing between the general public purposes of the ordinance provision and the specific application of that provision to the property because the Zoning Ordinance is restricting the applicants from returning the property to a state of four dwelling units that it originally held for many years.  Because the criteria of unnecessary hardship was answered in section A, section B was not considered.

The applicant must comply with all Federal, State, and Local requirements.

Ralph seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Review of minutes:

August 13, 2019. David made a motion to approve the minutes as written.  George seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Other business

Zoning Officer Bratz gave the Board an update on various building permits, violations, and upcoming court hearings.

At 7:00, Ralph made a motion to adjourn.  David seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

Submitted by,

Joanna Ray