Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Jun 3, 2020

Draft Zoning Board Minutes - May 26, 2020


LITTLETON ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
 
In accordance with Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order #12, this public body is authorized to meet electronically
 
TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020
6:00 PM
DRAFT

 

Present via phone: Chair Jessica Daine, David Rochefort, Jim McMahon, Ralph Hodgman, George Morgan, and Joanna Ray (recording secretary)

Excused:  Eddy Moore, alternate

Others present via phone:  Zoning Officer Milton Bratz,Jeff Winn, Val Poulsen, and Don Bouchard

The public had access to this meeting by calling 1-929-205-6099 and entering meeting ID 529 062 8549.

Chair Daine called to order at 6:08. All Board members identified themselves as present.

Jeffrey L. Winn, owner & applicant – ZBA20-07 – Request for a Special Exception relating to Article IV, Section 4.02.03 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a Group Care Facility at 77 St. Johnsbury Road, tax map 56-1, in the R-2 zone.  

Chair Daine confirmed with Joanna Ray that the application was posted in the newspaper, abutters were notified, and the hearing fees were paid.  The application was accepted as complete.

Jeff Winn informed the Board that the application is for a recovery home for women. The other homes in Town are for men only. The property has 9 acres with a large farm house.  There will be no medical care or counseling offered on-site. The women will reside there while working on recovery.

Ralph asked for confirmation of the number of bedrooms.  The property card indicates there are three bedrooms.  Jeff replied that there are four bedrooms.  An office on the first floor was turned into a bedroom. There are three large bedrooms upstairs and a second floor living room. The property is served by Town water and sewer.  The house can fit eight people.  Six will be the residents and two will be the house manager and an assistant manager.  Jeff confirmed that there are 2.5 bathrooms.  Ralph stated he did not feel that was enough square footage for everyone.  Ralph also asked about the barn on the property. Jeff replied that there are no current plans to do anything with the barn.

Jeff asked if another approval would be needed to use the attached large garage for more living space. Ralph replied that a remodel would require more consideration.

Jim asked about privacy issues and whether or not the women would be sharing bedrooms. Jeff replied that private space is available, but the bedrooms will be shared and only intended to give them a place to sleep. They will live in the common areas and feel like a home.  There is not enough space for them to have individual bedrooms.  Jim noted that there will be life safety codes to be met and that no floor plans were submitted to the Board.  Jeff replied that the tax card shows the footprint of the building.  Jeff added that there are three large common areas in the house.  He wants to fill the need of women needing a home.  Jim added that based on the information presented and the current floorplan, an increase would need to come back.

David asked how this would be any different than if a couple with six kids buys the property and keeps it as a residence. Ralph replied that this is a residential zone asking for a special exception to something other than a private residence. David responded by asking why the square footage per person is ok for a family but not this group home. Ralph replied that a group home has requirements per the Zoning Ordinance.  Ralph asked if the home had sprinklers. Jeff replied no. Ralph asked if that was State law and noted that there are already people living on site without the State and Town requirements being met. Jeff stated he did not have any problems with their being conditions regarding the number of occupants. David stated the special exception changes the use of the property and that the Board cannot enforce the State building codes.  Ralph replied that the Board has the right to restrict the number of residents to six in this group home.

George asked if private home building codes would be different for a group home.  There are safety improvements to consider and asked Milton if he could answer that.  Milton replied that the Fire Chief knows the home is being put in place and he will have questions for Jeff.  The building codes are not part of the Zoning Ordinance. Milton added that there will be different codes because it is a group home. David replied that it is not the Board’s job to enforce those codes. George asked if there could be a condition that the home needs to be inspected by the Chief before occupancy.  Chair Daine replied that the regular condition the Board attaches to decisions will cover the need to comply with State building codes.  There were no department comments regarding this application. There were no abutters present to comment. There were no members of the public wishing to comment.

Jeff stated he did not have an issue with putting a restriction on the number of occupants based on the current configuration.  There is a large need, but packing them into the building would not be helpful.  Additions and renovations would get the necessary permits.

Jim asked Jeff is the women would be dropped off or if they had their own car.  Jeff replied that very few have a car. They get rides through the church. There will be no unregistered vehicles on the property.

Chair Daine closed the public input and the Board reviewed the answers on the submitted application.

  • All Board members agreed that the specific site was an appropriate location for the proposed use. There is plenty of room and is set off the road.
  • All Board members agreed that property values in the district would not be reduced by the proposed use. The house is invisible to the public and improvement are happening there.
  • All Board members agreed that no nuisance or unreasonable hazard would result. This is good fit for the large parcel with very few neighbors.
  • Adequate and appropriate facilities would be provided for the property operation and maintenance of the proposed use because it is a large parcel and a good fit.

 

Ralph added that this is a three bedroom home because a bedroom must have a closet. Chair Daine replied that the Board has not seen inside the home. 

Chair Daine stated that the application indicated six women would reside there. Once approved, a building permit would be needed to do changes. Jim asked if Jeff could build another ten units in it.  David replied that a building permit application would be submitted for Milton to review.

David made a motion, based on the above stated facts, to approve ZBA20-07 with the condition that the applicant comply with all Federal, State, and Local regulations. Ralph seconded the motion. Per roll call, the motion passed 4-1.  Jim voted no.

Granite Senior Services LLC, owner & applicant – ZBA20-08 – Request for a Special Exception relating to Article VI, Section 6.01of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow retaining walls exceeding 6’ in height on St. Johnsbury Road, tax maps 74-2 & 74-3, in the Rural zone.

Chair Daine confirmed with Joanna Ray that the application was posted in the newspaper, abutters were notified, and the hearing fees were paid.  The application was accepted as complete.

Don Bouchard presented.  The ZBA voted in March 2020 to allow the Nursing Care Facility and related Medical Offices.  Now that the plan are more finalized, a special exception for retaining walls over 6’high is needed. Don identified the location of the walls.  The type of wall has not been decided on yet.

Ralph asked what “NHHD Concrete Monument Found” meant.  It is noted on the top of the plan. Tom Smith noted that it was identifying the boundary. Don confirmed that the walls would be a minimum of 1’ from the property lines. There might be some disturbance in that 1’ during construction, but would be cleaned up. The distance from the property line might even be 10’.

Jim noted a ditch could be addressed by the monument near the interstate.  Jim asked if some wetland were being avoided. Don replied that avoiding the wetlands is part of the reason for the walls. 

George and David did not have any comments or questions.  There were no comments or questions from abutters or others present.  Chair Daine closed the public input and the Board reviewed the answers on the submitted application. 

  • All Board members agreed that the specific site is an appropriate location because it will be preserving the wetlands and structural integrity.
  • All Board members agreed that property values in the district would not be reduced by the proposed retaining walls.
  • All Board members agreed that there will be no nuisance or unreasonable hazard with the proposed retaining walls. They will be designed in accordance with engineering standards and will be stamped by a professional engineer.
  • All Board members agreed that adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation and maintenance of the proposed retaining walls. There will be full and part time professionals maintaining them.

 

Ralph made a motion, based on the above stated facts, to approve ZBA20-08 with the condition that the applicant comply with all Federal, State, and Local regulations. Jim seconded the motion.  Per roll call, the motion passed 5-0.

Poulsen Rentals LLC, owner & applicant – ZBA20-09 – Request for a Variance relating to Article IV, Section 4.02.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow an Office Building at 249 Dells Road, tax map 76-24, in the R-I zone.

Chair Daine confirmed with Joanna Ray that the application was posted in the newspaper, abutters were notified, and the hearing fees were paid.  The application was accepted as complete.

Val Poulsen presented. The property is in the R-I zone, but surrounded by commercial businesses that have received ZBA approvals.  The previous owner passed away and put in her will that the property can no longer be used as a residence.  Val is proposing to honor her final wish and use the property as an office building such as an insurance company or bookkeeper.

Ralph noted that flooding in that area is a concern and asked if the bottom of the building would be used for anything. Val stated it would most likely be storage. Ralph asked about parking. Val replied that the abutting lot that was merged to the one with the building will be filled in some to allow for a couple parking spots. Joanna let the Board know that Doug Damko, Public Works Director, has been in touch with Val regarding the area to be filled.  Due to the flooding history, the fill should be placed to a level equal to or higher than the height of the existing berm so that the same level of protection remains for the residence as it undergoes a change to commercial use.  Val was agreeable to this.  Jim asked if Doug would be issuing a permit for the fill. Val replied that he was not sure.  Val and Doug will be meeting tomorrow.

There were no comments or questions from abutters or others present.  Chair Daine closed the public input and the Board reviewed the answers on the submitted application.  

Chair Daine stated this is what the neighborhood has become. David suggested it might be worth looking at the area to rezone it.  Joanna will bring the idea to the Planning Board. David stated that the restriction put in the will should not force the hand of the Board, but agreed that the neighborhood has changed since the house was built.  The residential use is not reasonable anymore due to the growth.

All Board members agreed with the following statements submitted by the applicant:

  • The variance will not be contrary to the public interest because it is surrounded by commercial businesses.
  • The variance is consistent with the spirit of the ordinance because lot 17, 18, and 25 all have variances for commercial use.
  • Substantial justice is done because this area is all commercial.
  • The values of surrounding properties will not be diminished because this property is in very good condition and is well maintained.
  • This property was originally in a residential area but all of the properties around it are now commercial.
  • This use will fit in with properties around it.

 

David made a motion, based on the above stated facts, to approve ZBA20-09 with the condition that the applicant comply with all Federal, State, and Local regulations. Ralph seconded the motion.  Per roll call, the motion passed 5-0.

Jim informed the Board that he will be resigning from all Boards and Committees to focus on his family. He has enjoyed his time with the Board.  The Board expressed that he will be missed.

At 7:30 PM, George made a motion to adjourn. David seconded the motion.  the motion passed by all.

 

Submitted by,

Joanna Ray