Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Oct 10, 2017

Approved Zoning Board Minutes - October 10, 2017

6:00 PM





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:  Paul Smith, Mary Chase-Smith, Atty. Tyler Ray, Bruce Hadlock, Casey Hadlock, Jim Ramsey


Chairman Daine announced that the following case had been withdrawn:


Team O’Neil Motorsports, Applicant – Littleton Learning Center LLC, Owner – ZBA17-17 – Request for a Variance relating to Article IV, Section 4.02.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a General Service Garage in the 4,000 sq. ft. warehouse. The property is located at 648 Union Street, tax map 80-284, in the C-I & R-I & Industrial zones.


Rehearing of:  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 rehearing was noticed in the paper, abutters were notified, and the case fees were paid.  The same five members from the original hearing will vote on this rehearing.


Attorney Tyler Ray, representing the applicant, distributed a memo to the Board.  The memo stated reasons for the application to be granted.  Atty. Ray explained that the Ordinance allows conditional permits and disallows home occupations that “become a nuisance”.  Atty. Ray also noted that the Zoning Board could refer this matter to the Planning Board for review and recommendations.  The purpose of home occupations is to provide economic diversity and the applicant should be given that opportunity.


Atty. Ray reviewed the four criteria for granting a Special Exception.  The one-chair hair salon would not become a nuisance or unreasonable hazard. The Ordinance defines nuisance.  Nuisance suggests a use in which there is a great effect, would interfere, endanger, or be offensive.  The details of the proposed use includes one chair with one resident employee, open on a strictly limited basis of three days a week, open at reasonable business hours of 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, daily clients of three to six, average appointment time of two hours each, and a range of nine to eighteen cars in a seven day week. 


Atty. Ray stated that the Town of Littleton had approved the applicant’s prior hair salon as a valid home occupation.  The location was at 772 St. Johnsbury Rd. and continued for twelve years.  There were no complaints about the business during that time period. 


Atty. Ray stated that the ZBA’s denial of the present application, without sufficient review of her prior business or evidence from the abutters, was denying the applicant her right to work. 


Atty. Ray added that a single chair hair salon would have less neighborhood disruption than other permitted uses.  Other permitted uses could create more traffic and impact. 


Atty. Ray informed the Board that the Ordinance requires conditional use to determine nuisance.  The Board could monitor the use and address complaints as they arise. 


Paul Smith said that the Town does not classify roads as dangerous. Paul added that traffic for the permitted uses would be higher.  Other locations in Town are more dangerous than this.  Paul added, regarding the spirit of the ordinance, the Board needs to rethink their previous decision. 


Jim Ramsey informed the Board that he is a 40-year resident on the hill and it is peaceful there.  Normal traffic for this residential area is for package deliveries or family parties.  The St. Johnsbury Rd. location is not a fair comparison.  That location had a straight shot into the salon.  Ramsey is 40 yards away from the proposed use when he is in his garden.  He can see and hear everything that goes on.  The peacefulness will be disrupted.  Ramsey also claimed that clients are being seen at the Smith property.  Extra traffic would be considered a nuisance to him.  Ramsey described the curves on the road and how difficult it is to walk on the road with those curves.  It will be even more dangerous with additional traffic.  Ramsey stated he gets along with his neighbors, but does not feel that the salon belongs here.


Bruce Hadlock brought David Bowles along with him to the meeting.  David worked for the Littleton Public Works for 15 years and used to plow Birchcroft Dr.  He was in a serious accident on this road while plowing. The accident was just below Cold Spring Rd during a bad storm.  Bruce added that not all accidents are reported. 


Bruce Hadlock mentioned the reservoir at the top of the hill and the subdivision.  The properties were layed out a specific way for residences and not businesses. 


Casey Hadlock commented on Paul Smith’s statement about the Town not classifying roads safe or unsafe.  On May 24th, the Selectmen had a meeting regarding safety on Town roads.  A road adjacent to Birchcroft was discussed at that meeting and considered unsafe.


Paul Smith responded to Casey’s comments by clarifying he said the Town does not classify roads as “dangerous”.  The hearing Casey referenced was in regards to commercial truck traffic causing problems.


Atty. Ray referenced section 8.03.01 of the Zoning Ordinance.  The Board needs to decide if the proposed use is unreasonable or excessive.


Jim Ramsey stated that additional houses in the development would be considered normal additional traffic.  A commercial use is not normal traffic.


Atty. Ray told the Board that if the applicant has met all of the standards, the application should be approved.  It cannot be denied because the neighbors do not like it.


Bruce Hadlock referenced section 8.03.01, part B.  The house has an approved septic system for a 4-bedroom house.  Adding a salon would be an increase in usage and require an upgrade.


Vice Chair Moore asked Atty. Ray if the proposed use was a business.  Atty. Ray agreed that it is a business.  


Atty. Ray presented a traffic study that was done from October 6 through 9.  The applicant replicated the proposed traffic during regular business hours.  No abutters noticed the traffic or made mention of it at this meeting.  Cars were entering and leaving the site as if it was a business day.


Jim Ramsey responded by saying he didn’t feel the need to say that he saw any traffic because he knew the applicant wasn’t supposed to have any customers yet. Atty. Ray confirmed the traffic was only a test and not real customers.


Ralph Hodgman asked Atty. Ray to tell him when he heard the Board say the applicant could not work.  Atty. Ray responded by saying the Board’s denying the request denies the applicant’s right to work.  Ralph responded by saying the Board did not deny the applicant’s right to work.  Atty. Ray said they did because the application fits the criteria.


There were no other comments or questions.  Chairman Daine closed the public input.


Ralph made a motion to postpone until October 24.  There was no second to the motion.  The motion died. 


Chairman Daine noted that each case is looked at individually and there is no guarantee of approval because another case was approved.  The ZBA’s duty is to interpret and consider what is a hazard or nuisance.


Vice Chair Moore wanted the recorded to show that he made an error at the previous hearing when he said the Ordinance did not define nuisance.  At the previous hearing, the word business was not mentioned.  At this hearing, the applicant’s attorney confirmed that the proposed use is a business.


Jim McMahon noted that nuisance was discussed.  Jerry said the term is subjective.


Chairman Daine stated that the findings could all be considered subjective.  It is up to the Board to analyze the responses. 


Jerry stated he could see both sides to this case.


Vice Chair Moore asked if there were any other businesses or home occupations on Birchcroft Rd.  Chairman Daine said she was not aware of any. 


Ralph made a motion to continue deliberations until October 24.  There was no second to the motion.  The motion died. 


David made a motion to continue until October 24 when the Board will deliberate and put forth a motion.  Ralph second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.  Ralph and Jerry volunteered to draft decision letters to bring to the October 24th meeting. 


The Board will review the September minutes at the next meeting. 


At 7:00, Jerry made a motion to adjourn.  David second the motion.  The motion passed 5-0.


Submitted by,

Joanna Ray