Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Aug 28, 2018

Approved Zoning Board Minutes - August 28, 2018



PRESENT:  Chair Jessica Daine, Vice Chair Jerry LeSage, Jim McMahon, David Rochefort, Ralph Hodgman, and Joanna Ray (recording secretary)


EXCUSED:  Eddy Moore and Guy Harriman


OTHERS: Neil Wittet, Atty. Jody Hodgdon, Willie Thompson, Tom Smith, Mike Yeargle, Louisa Whiting, Mary Doherty, Roger Merrill, Don Merrill, Winston Merrill, and Zoning Officer Milton Bratz


Chair Daine called the meeting to order at 6:00.  A full Board was present.


Littleton Meadow LLC, Owner / WJP Development LLC, Agent – ZBA18-08 – Request for a Variance relating to Article V, Section 5.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a side setback less than the required 25’ on Meadow Street, tax map 82-19, in the C-I zone. The hearing fees were paid, the notice was in the newspaper and abutters were notified.  The application was accepted as complete.


Jody presented.  The original submission showed the neighboring building with a potential expansion.  That has been removed from the plan since it does not involve the case. Jody informed the Board that the character of the neighborhood would not change.  This is a retail development in the commercial zone.  The welfare and safety of the neighborhood will not be threatened. The proposed is consistent with the current uses in the neighborhood.  The general public and abutting properties will benefit from this approval. The variance is a partial infringement into the side setback.  The general public will not even notice if it is within the setback. Jody added that the property values in the neighborhood will be increased with this building. This property is narrow for the commercial zone and it has a shared entrance with the abutting property. Jody stated that he feels this is the most reasonable and productive use of the property and might not happen if the variance is not granted. There is a tenant ready for this site and it has been developed to meet their requirements. 


Jody showed the Board that it is the southern side of the property that encroaches into the required 25’ side setback.  The 50’ wide ROW was also identified.  Jody explained that the location of the ROW is why the building is not able to meet the setback.

Jim asked when the lot was subdivided.  Jody replied April 2012.  Jim asked if buildings were shown at that time.  Jody stated that the Agway buildings and greenhouses were on the lot at that time.  Jim asked why the building needed to be 10,000 sq. ft.  Jody replied that the size of the building relates to the proposed use of the building.  Neil added that the tenant originally wanted a larger building and the proposed is the smallest they can do.  Jim asked about the pitch of the roof.  This question was to address snow coming off the roof and onto the abutting property.  Neil replied that there are no building design plans at this time, but will take that into consideration.


Winston asked if the ROW could be used for access, at a later date, for his property out back that is landlocked.  Jody replied that it would be up to the property owners.  Prior plans did not reserve that right for the access.  The deed for Winston’s access is further down Meadow Street and indicated on a different plan. 


David asked to confirm that the 50’ ROW is not for the other property’s access.  Jody confirmed that the 50’ ROW is only for this parcel and the one that was part of the 2012 subdivision. The design was intended to allow trucks to pull in and have room to turn around.  Jim asked if the abutter was in agreement with this proposal.  Jody stated that this is a mutual easement with TTD to benefit both.  They work in conjunction with each other.


Chair Daine stated that the challenge is proving hardship.  The reason cannot be financial.  The lot size is small, but eliminating some parking on the side would allow the building to move over some.  Jody replied that the proposed tenant requires a certain number of parking spaces to fit their need.  Any viable project on this site will need parking to support the development.           


Roger asked how far it is from the southern boundary line to the existing structure on the abutting Merrill property.  The map does not indicate the distance to the barn.  Roger estimated 25’, but Jody and Neil could not confirm.  Roger asked what would happen when the lot is paved and where would the runoff go.  Jody replied that runoff would certainly have to be engineered into the plan.  That level of detail is not on the plan being currently presented.


Ralph asked if there were any plans, at this point, for the actual building. Neil replied there is no design yet.  Neil added that if this request is not approved, then the tenant will probably not build here.  Jim stated that it is difficult to approve a plan without seeing the particulars.  The presented plan does not have details. Questions included storm water plans, snow coming off the roof, and how the building would be maintained with the 9’ side setback. Neil replied that those items would be considered if the request was approved. Jody added that the variance could be approved and the details could be reviewed during the building permit process.  If the footprint changes, they would come back before the Board.


David asked how far the previous greenhouses were from the property line.  Jody did not have that measurement.  Jim added that he would be more comfortable with the setback if there was more room to get around the building.


Chair Daine closed the public input to review the submitted findings of the facts. Chair Daine agreed that the proposal fits with the neighborhood.  Jim stated that he did not have a problem with the retail aspect.  It was noted that Fire Chief Mercieri did not state any concerns about the setback. David asked if the encroachment would affect storm water.  David added that runoff could be affected whether the building was in the setback or not.  Other noted concerns included the pitch of the roof and how tall the building would be. Chair Daine asked the Board if they thought granting the request would be contrary to the public interest.  Without site plan review, the building permit could address certain issues.  David agreed that a new retail business would not alter the character of the neighborhood.  Jim also agreed and Ralph added that it is a good fit. Ralph would like to see a business on this lot, but they are asking for a 17’ adjustment.


David stated that substantial justice would be done even without a lot of detail on the plan.  Chair Daine stated that retail will add to what Littleton has to offer and increase the tax base.  The public would gain from this. Ralph stated that he was concerned with the use.  The Commercial-I zone has a long list of permitted uses.  Ralph wanted to know how the Town would benefit.  Chair Daine stated that her biggest concern was with proving hardship and asked if the building could be put in a location that meets the Zoning Ordinance. She did not see a hardship if a different business comes in that would require less parking and could meet the requirements.  The lot is not perfect, but it is buildable. Chair Daine added that the variance request is for a significant adjustment and the Town voted for a 25’ side setback for a reason. Jim stated that the applicant could have come in with details of reasons for the variance without discussing the financial reasons.  Ralph added that inside details would be good too.  David stated that a lot of good points have been made, but he did not see any unnecessary hardship. Vice Chair LeSage agreed with the others.  This is not a slight encroachment.  Ralph stated that the applicant needs to come back and show what the business is going to be and explain the hardship.


Ralph made a motion to deny the request. Vice Chair LeSage seconded the motion. Jim stated that another option was to continue the hearing.  Ralph withdrew his motion to deny and Vice Chair LeSage withdrew the second.


Chair Daine opened up the public input portion.  All attendees were still present.  Chair Daine informed Jody and Neil that the Board would like to see them address the drainage concerns, how to get around the building for maintenance, and present a more detailed plan.  The Board needs to be presented with significant reasons for the 17’ variance that do not involve a financial concern


Milton spoke about permitted uses in the building.  He informed the Board that a retail business might be going in now, but any of the permitted uses in the C-I zone could replace it.  The Board should be focusing on where the building is going.  The type of business is irrelevant.  Chair Daine replied that she understood what Milton was saying.  The need for a 17’ variance was Chair Daine’s biggest concern.  Ralph agreed that it was a big issue. 


Vice Chair LeSage made a motion to continue ZBA18-08 until September 11, 2018 at 6:00 in the Community House Heald Room.  Ralph seconded the motion.  The motion passed.   


Louisa Whiting, Owner / Thomas S. Smith, Surveyor & Agent – ZBA18-09 – Request for a Variance relating to Article V, Section 5.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow non-conforming lot dimensions on proposed subdivided lots and non-conforming setbacks to current buildings located on the proposed lots at 1987 North Littleton Rd, tax map 9-20, in the Rural zone.  The hearing fees were paid, the notice was in the newspaper and abutters were notified.  The application was accepted as complete. 


Chair Daine read the following statements from the application.  The 3 buildings currently exist.  The subdivision is for the family’s existing business and residences.  There are currently 2 dwellings on one lot.  This variance would allow each dwelling to be on a separate lot. The variance would make a non –conforming lot more conforming.  It would create a single residence on its own lot and a business on its own lot. There will be no new proposed uses. The current family business and residence is on the lot and the family wishes to replace the existing house for a new one.  The bank will not approve the loan if the house is not on its own lot.


Tom Smith presented. Tom explained that the Planning Board would deny his subdivision request for lots that did not meet the Zoning Ordinance requirements. Therefore, he is starting the process by presenting to the Zoning Board.  The property is 15 acres with 2 dwellings and a business of rubbish removal.  This has been there for 20-30 years.  The 2 dwellings were approved by the Planning Board.  The applicant is looking to replace one of the houses, but the bank will not finance it unless it is on its own lot.  This request will put each house and the business on individual lots.  By doing this, each lot is lacking the required lot width. The lender is fine with the issuance of a variance.  Mrs. Whiting needs a new house.  


Chair Daine asked if the new home would be in the same location.  Mike replied that it would be as close as possible and basically the same size. Willie Thompson stated he is in support of this request.  Ralph asked why there would be 3 lots instead of 2.  Tom replied that putting each house on its own lot will be more conforming to the Zoning Ordinance. 


Ralph asked what the distance was between the garage and the house.  Tom replied that it is not quite 50’.  Mike said it was closer to 30’.  Tom added that he is trying to split the difference. David asked if the driveway would stay the same.  Tom replied yes, but the owner might need to apply to NHDOT if any lot is sold off.  Vice Chair LeSage asked if there would be changes to the septic.  Tom replied no.  Ralph asked if there would be changes to the well.  Tom stated an easement might be needed for the utilities.  Mike added that there will not be any expansion to the facility.  The home to be replaced is in terrible condition and a new one will improve the neighborhood.


Jim stated that he did not have an issue with the subdividing of the property, but wanted to make sure there are wells on the neighboring properties. Tom stated that easements will be drawn up for those items that the bank requires.


Chair Daine noted that the applicant will need to go to the Planning Board and if that Board changes the scope of what is presented tonight, the applicant will need to come back to the Zoning Board.


Ralph suggested a condition that they have equal setbacks on each side.  Tom stated that they need the maintenance room around the buildings.  Each lot will have no less than a 20’ setback.  The new building can be shifted over to meet the minimum 20’.  The current house has a setback less than 20’.


Chair Daine closed the public input portion of the hearing. There were no abutters opposing the request. The Board reviewed the submitted findings of the facts. There will be no changes in the current use of the property.  The variance will make the property more conforming.  Values will not be diminished because there is no change of use.  The bank will not finance without the lot separation.  The house is deteriorating.


Ralph stated that the building must have an equal setback on either side of the buildings.  Anything closer will require the applicant to come back before the Zoning Board.


Vice Chair LeSage made a motion, based on the submitted findings of the facts, to approve Louisa Whiting, Owner / Thomas S. Smith, Surveyor & Agent – ZBA18-09 – Request for a Variance relating to Article V, Section 5.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow non-conforming lot dimensions on proposed subdivided lots and non-conforming setbacks to current buildings located on the proposed lots at 1987 North Littleton Rd, tax map 9-20, in the Rural zone with the following conditions:

  • All three lots must be no less than 150’ in width
  • The property line will be equally split between the two current structures on the property
  • The proposed replacement home on lot #2 will set no closer than the existing building
  • The applicant must comply with all Federal, State, and Local regulations


Ralph seconded the motion.  The motion passed by all.


Review of minutes

June 12, 2018.  Ralph made a motion to approve them as written.  Vice Chair LeSage seconded the motion.  The motion passed by all.

July 24, 2018.  Ralph recommended a grammar correction. Chair Daine made a motion to approve the minutes as amended.  David seconded the motion.  The motion passed by all.


At 8:05, Chair Daine made a motion to adjourn.  Vice Chair LeSage seconded the motion.  The motion passed by all.


Submitted by,

Joanna Ray