Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Oct 24, 2017

Draft Zoning Board Minutes - October 24, 2017

6:00 PM





PRESENT:  Chairman Jessica Daine, Vice Chair Eddy Moore, David Rochefort, Ralph Hodgman, Jerry LeSage, Jim McMahon, and Guy Harriman


Chairman Daine called the meeting to order at 6:00.  The Board will continue their deliberations of the rehearing for 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. Public input was closed at the last meeting. There will be no additional testimony. 


Ralph offered to make a motion and then discuss it after a second to the motion.  Ralph read the following:


Littleton Zoning Board of Adjustment, October 24, 2017.  For the reasons which follow, I move that the Littleton Board of Adjustment reaffirm its original denial for Mary Chase-Smith and Paul J. smith, case 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 Home Occupation is to have a Hair Salon at their home located at 231 Birchcroft Drive, tax map 92-27, in the R-II zone. 


  1. A.    Introductions
    1. 1.    All documents and submissions for this case are included in the case file, so many of the details stated or submitted during the hearings will not be fully reiterated in this decision.
    2. 2.    The Board finds that it’s denial is consistent with the purpose clause in Article VIII which reads as follows “8.01 Purpose – Home Occupations may be conditionally allowed through the process described in order to allow diversity employment available to town residents, to support the variety of uses characteristic of small towns, and to allow reasonable growth.  At the same time, the ordinance intends to protect the character of the Town’s residential neighborhoods and keep neighborhood residents free from nuisance.”
    3. 3.    Also applicable to this application are the standards listed in Section 8.03.01 under Article VIII – Home Occupations, which include the following:


“No Home Occupation shall be permitted that….

B.Generates traffic… excess of what is normal in the residential neighborhood;

C.Creates a hazard to persons or property,….or becomes a nuisance;…”

Under Section 2.01 – Interpretation of Certain Terms and Words, the use of the word “shall” is mandatory.  Therefore, the Standards in Section 8.03.01 are required to be met, to the same extent as the Standards contained in Section 14.01.


  1. B.    Key findings of Facts:
    1. 1.    Is the specific site an appropriate location for such a use and why?


Applicants Answer – Yes.  Due to my health issues, working part time from home allows me the freedom to continue to work and provide the safety and security I need.  My home occupation is part time and does not alter the exterior of my home.


Boards Finding – The site is not an appropriate location for such a use.  The home itself would be an appropriate facility to allow the applicant to work from home as a hair salon.  The home has an adequate area for this home occupation as well as a proper entrance and parking and meets the conditions for a home occupation.  However, the location of the home in an R-II zone, abutting neighbors, and the travel route to get to the home does not allow this to be an appropriate location.  See Board Finding in 3 below.


  1. 2.     Will property values in the district be reduced by such a use and why?


Applicants Answer – No.  Due to the hard work my husband and I have invested in the property, it is more appealing.  There will not be any signs near the roadway advertising my occupation.  The “flavor” of our property and neighborhood will not change.


Board Finding – The Board agrees with the applicant.  Although some comments were made during the hearings that property values in the area will be negatively affected, there is no hard evidence to show this and the Board feels property values will not be appreciably affected.


  1. 3.     Will a Nuisance or Unreasonable Hazard result and why?


Applicants Answer – No.


Boards Finding – A nuisance and unreasonable hazard both exist and shown by comments from abutters, neighbors and visits by Zoning Board of Adjustment members.  This finding is also supported by the Littleton Zoning Ordinance Section 4.02.03; Residential II – Suburban Residential (R-II), 8.04; Permitted Home Occupation, and 8.03.01; Prohibited Activities.


During the hearings, abutters and neighbors spoke against the application and the Board finds their concerns to be justified.  The home occupation is located on a dead end town street running approximately .6 miles one way.  The applicant’s home is located approximately .4 miles from the beginning of the road more than halfway up the hill adjacent to the Mt. Eustis Ski Area.  There are currently no known home occupations or businesses on this road or the two dead end side roads.  The applicant states that the business will see up to 18 clients per week.  This will generate vehicle traffic in excess of what is normal for this residential neighborhood which consists of only 16 homes (including the side roads) before getting to the applicants driveway. 


Ordinance 8.03.01B specifically denies any Home Occupation generating traffic in excess of what is normal for that neighborhood.  The street to the applicant’s home creates an unreasonable hazard due to the curves, steep hills, driveways (some difficult to see), trees covering a good portion of the road, narrow lanes with no road markings or lines, and side ditches immediately on road edges.  According to the abutters and neighbors living on the road, numerous vehicles have slid off the road into the ditches primarily during wet and stormy conditions.  One neighbor said that he pulled the applicants family member out of a ditch on that road and that the applicant himself has pulled some neighbors out of the ditch.  Three abutters and/or neighbors and a town plow driver (who went into the ditch on this road while plowing and had to be towed out) have said this is a hazardous road.  The Home Occupation will share a long driveway with another abutter.  The abutter on the other side of the driveway whose home overlooks the driveway and home occupation location has a concern with the number of vehicles and people traffic that he will be observing and hearing whenever the home occupation is open.  The Board finds that such a concern is justified. His home is one of the oldest in the neighborhood, abuts the driveway, and this additional traffic will interfere with his use and enjoyment of his property and his life style of working in his garden and spending time in his yard.  Based on these facts and comments, as well as site visits by Board members, the Board agrees with the abutter that having an additional 18 vehicles per week, more than is used by the two homeowners who share the driveway, will rise to the level of a nuisance. 


  1. 4.     Will adequate and appropriate facilities be provided for the proper operation and maintenance of the proposed use and why?


Applicants Answer – As stated in my letter (see applicants packet), the part time occupation will not affect town sewer, the water use is minimal and traffic will only be increased by approximately five cars a day, 3 days a week.


Boards Findings – For a street (including two side roads) consisting of approximately 16 homes before the address of the home occupation, this amount of additional generated traffic creates an unreasonable hazard for the neighbors and abutters.


  1. 5.     Key Finding of Facts for Article 8.03.01 – No Home Occupation “shall” be permitted that:


  1. a.    Changes the outside appearance of the dwelling or is visible from the road;


Board Finding – there will be no structural or visible changes to the property.  The areas where the home occupation would exist is not visible from the street.


  1. b.    Generates traffic, parking, sewerage, or water use in excess of what is normal in the residential neighborhood;


Board Finding – Additional traffic of approximately six vehicles per day in both directions of the road will occur.  As detailed above, the Board finds this to be in excess of what is normal for this residential neighborhood which currently has no home occupations or businesses in the entire neighborhood and sits on a .6 mile dead end road.  The Board feels that the failure of the proposed use to meet this standard would require us to deny this application, regardless of our conclusion on the “nuisance or unreasonable hazard” standard.


  1. c.    Creates a hazard to persons or property, results in electrical interferences, or becomes a nuisance;


Board Finding – As detailed above, according to information from abutters, neighbors, a town plow operator, and personal visits by Board members who made personal observations, the Board finds the hazard would exit with the additional traffic, if this application were to be granted.


  1. d.    Results in outside storage or display of anything;


Boards Finding – the Board agrees with the applicant when they stated there would be no outside storage or display of anything at this property.


Chairman Daine second the motion.  Ralph informed the Board that he wrote the entire motion.  A lawyer was contacted to assist with legal terms. The content of the motion was written by Ralph. 


David asked Ralph if he thought any of the objections and the raised issues could be addressed or mitigated through conditions, such as install signs for traffic to inform of turns ahead.  Ralph suggested the Town making the road safer, but doesn’t see that happening.  Ralph doesn’t feel this road could be made safer without redoing the entire road.  Many abutters have called this road hazardous. There are 12 roads in this town found to be in dire need of repair.  This road is one of them. Ralph detailed the problems with this road.  David noted that above the house is the worst.  Ralph said there are driveways that are not very visible.  Jim stated that improving the road would be an unrealistic condition. David stated he is not convinced this road is hazardous.  Jim added that he would be more concerned about a hazard if the proposed was a commercial development.  He is more concerned with this being a nuisance.


Vice Chair Moore asked if there were 16 houses on Birchcroft Drive.  Ralph clarified that there are 16 houses prior to the applicant’s driveways including the two side roads.  Eighteen additions cars are being requested.  Vice Chair Moore stated that in this district, all residential and there are no other home occupations or businesses in that area.  Ralph confirmed that there are no known home occupations or businesses in that area. Vice Chair Moore asked the other members if the Board is allowed to permit businesses in this area.  Doesn’t see why the Board should allow this.  Vice chair Moore stated that years ago, the Board was asked to allow a mobile home at the end of South Street.  Mobile homes were not allowed, but manufactured home were.  The Board was not allowed to start permitted mobile homes in that district. He compared that denial to the request before them now.  The Board is not allowed to start permitting businesses in the residential zone. People will be coming to the house for service.  Home Occupations do not always have people coming to the home.  Vice Chair Moore stated he does not see why the Board should allow this. 


Jim suggested a condition to appease the neighbor that would be most affected. Chairman Daine confirmed that the applicant was willing to plant trees and shrubs. There was discussion about whether or not anything could be done to mitigate any nuisance and whether or not there would be a hazard by the increased traffic.  Ralph’s interpretation is that there cannot be a business on this road.


Chairman Daine’s opinion is that the road creates a nuisance.  Birchcroft Drive is not a thru road for anyone to use getting somewhere other than a specific location.  Her concern with adding conditions is that the conditions might not be effective. 


Guy stated that there is potential for a nuisance, but the Board does not know for sure.  Chairman Daine stated that abutters have voiced concerns when they noticed an increase in activity at the house.  This concern is what caused an inquiry with the Town on whether or not there was something going on there. 


David asked Vice Chair Moore asked if a home occupation or business has been the first in its neighborhood.  Vice Chair Moore said they have been allowed, but this one is for a residential neighborhood where none exist. Other cases have discussed traffic.  Ralph stated the Board does not consider past cases.  Can’t compare to cases the current Board was not part of.  Each case is based on its own merits. 


Ralph asked if there were any suggested changes to his motion.  Vice Chair Moore thought the motion was thorough and complete.  Jerry said he did not like the whole thing.  He said it was too complicated and written by Ralph and a lawyer.  Ralph confirmed that the wording is all his own.  Many hours went into it.  He received help with terminology. 


Chairman Daine said there is a motion to deny on the table.  Ralph clarified that the motion is to reaffirm the Board’s original denial.  David, the motion is long and understands why he did it that way.  It is comprehensive.  Wishes they could have compromised.  The motion to deny was passed 3-2.  There is a 30-day appeal period to the Court.  A letter will be sent to the applicant. 


Minutes for review:

September 26, 2017 – Jerry made a motion to approve as written.  Ralph second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.

 October 10, 2017 – Jerry made a motion to approve as written.  David second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.

September 12, 2017 – David made a motion to approve as written.  Jerry second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.


At 6:45, Jim made a motion to adjourn.  Jerry second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.


Minutes submitted by Joanna Ray from a recording during the meeting.