Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Jun 12, 2018

Approved Zoning Board Minutes - June 12, 2018

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2018
6:00 PM


PRESENT:  Vice Chair Jerry LeSage, Jim McMahon, David Rochefort, Ralph Hodgman, Eddy Moore (alternate), Guy Harriman (alternate), and Joanna Ray (recording secretary)


EXCUSED:  Chair Jessica Daine


OTHERS: James Ramsey, Paul Smith, and Mary Chase-Smith


James & Gail Ramsey, Owners & Applicants – ZBA18-07 – Request for a Special Exception relating to Article VI, Section 6.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a fence over 6’ high at 249 Birchcroft Drive, tax map 92-26, in the R-2 zone.


Vice Chair LeSage identified the hearing on the agenda.  The hearing was properly noticed and the fees were paid.  Eddy Moore was designated as a voting member for this hearing.  Guy Harriman will be an alternate. The Board did not note any conflicts. 

Jim Ramsey presented a request for a fence over 6’ high.  Jim Ramsey stated that the neighbors have done some landscaping on their property, up to the property line, and it has reduced his privacy. The taller fence will give him the privacy he wants. The fence will be at the rear of his property which is the front of the neighbor’s lot.  There is surveyor tape showing the location of the property line. Jim Ramsey stated his land slopes up and he needs a tall fence because of that.  Jim Ramsey added that a fence will allow him avoid seeing traffic at the neighbor’s property. 


Eddy Moore asked how tall the fence would be.  Jim Ramsey replied that it would be up to 8’ tall and 35’-40’ long.  Eddy Moore asked how far the fence would be from the property line.  Jim Ramsey replied that it would be about 3’ from the property line.  The fence will be installed without anyone walking on the neighbor’s property.


Vice Chair LeSage noted that the application states a 7’ tall fence.  Jim Ramsey replied that he measured wrong, but the request is still for a fence over 6’ high.  Eddy Moore added that the application usually states the requested height.


David Rochefort asked about the need for an extra 2’ in height.  Jim Ramsey explained that the land slopes and that 8’ will also cover the driveway.  Ralph Hodgman added that at 7’, he could see from the porch but not while on the ground.  The extra foot will give more privacy.


Jim McMahon asked what type of fence.  Jim Ramsey replied that it would be a cedar fence that will be stained instead of painted.


Ralph Hodgman asked if there would be gaps between the boards.  Jim Ramsey replied that there is no plan to make spaces, but some shrinkage happens over time.


Mary Chase-Smith asked how the fence could be installed when there is a shed in the way that does not meet the required setbacks. Mary stated that the fence would be in her front yard and that there has been a lot of landscaping done in her front yard.


Mary Chase-Smith read a letter into the record.  The letter was from a friend that had visited her.  The letter discussed how the neighbor, Jim Ramsey, was watching them from his yard.  Mary added that she had put up tarps for privacy, but was asked to remove them.  She also stated that the 8’ fence will still allow Jim Ramsey to see her. Mary concluded by saying she saw Ralph Hodgman doing a site visit at Jim Ramsey’s, but had refused to visit her property when she had a hearing scheduled with the Board.    


Paul Smith stated he was opposed to the fence for many reasons and then asked if there was a plan for the Board to review that showed how the fence would be anchored.  He added that he has seen many fences over 6’ tall that are tipping over.  Paul also asked if the Board would require a bond for the fence or if there would be conditions regarding maintenance. Paul inquired about the fence ordinance and its reference to being in the front yard. The fence will be shading his front lawn.  Paul asked how the Board would be protecting him and his property.


There was a brief discussion between the Smiths and Jim Ramsey regarding Mary’s denied special exception and the events that followed between the two neighbors. Ralph Hodgman stated that the Board is here to listen to the facts of the case.


Paul Smith requested the Board postpone making their decision until they get an opinion on the front yard status and have a plan they can review. 


David Rochefort stated that Jim Ramsey can install a fence up to 6’ tall.   The Board is here to talk about the additional 2’.  Paul Smith asked about the setback.  Ralph Hodgman replied that there is red string so that Jim Ramsey will not be interfering with the neighboring property.  The fence will not involve the shed. Mary Chase-Smith added that she will deal with the shed at another time and that the red string is from a survey that had recently been done for their property.  


David Rochefort asked Mary Chase-Smith if she wanted a fence between properties that would provide privacy.  Mary replied that they have been working very hard on the lawn and do not want it shaded.  David added that he was trying to weed out the emotions of this hearing and look at what would be beneficial and provide privacy for both parties. 


Vice Chair LeSage closed the public input and added that he appreciated the comments from both sides of the issue.


Vice Chair LeSage read the facts submitted by the applicant.

  • The specific site is an appropriate location because a privacy fence is needed due to the close proximity of the neighbor’s property line.
  • Property values will not be reduced because it allows privacy for both landowners.
  • No nuisance or unreasonable hazard will result.
  • All proper precautions will be observed and maintenance free.


Jim McMahon stated that the site is appropriate, provides some privacy, and the fence will be away from the property line. 


Ralph Hodgman stated that he does not feel the fence is the issue.  However, it is an appropriate location for providing privacy.


David Rochefort agreed with Ralph’s statement.  A fence between properties is appropriate.  The fence is in Jim Ramsey’s back yard.  


Ralph Hodgman stated he did not think property values would be decreased.  Other fences could be in the area.


Vice Chair LeSage stated the application did not indicate how the fence would not be a nuisance, but he did not feel it would.  David Rochefort stated that some good points have been brought up, such as the life span of the fence.  Vice Chair LeSage added that the fence foundation was asked about.  Ralph Hodgman added that the fence must be put in by a contactor following all Federal, State, and Local requirements.  David added that there should be anchors.


Vice Chair LeSage stated that there will not be much maintenance after the fence is up and the life span of the fence is hard to tell.  Eddy Moore added that paint would peel and need repainting.  Jim McMahon added that eventually there will be maintenance.  The fence is far enough from the property line to allow Jim Ramsey to maintain the other side.


Ralph Hodgman made a motion to approve James & Gail Ramsey, Owners & Applicants – ZBA18-07 – Request for a Special Exception relating to Article VI, Section 6.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a fence over 6’ high at 249 Birchcroft Drive, tax map 92-26, in the R-2 zone.  Vice Chair LeSage second the motion. 


No Board member voiced disagreement regarding the findings of the facts.


After discussion, the following conditions were made:


  • The applicant must comply with all Federal, State, and Local regulations
  • The fence must be a minimum of 1-foot back onto Ramsey’s property line
  • The fence must be installed by a qualified contractor that will follow Federal, State, and Local regulations
  • The fence is not to exceed 8’ in total height
  • The applicant will submit the completed invoice to the Planning & Zoning Office along with the building permit application


The motion to approve the request passed 4-1.  Vice Chair LeSage stated he would like to see the neighbors work it out.  There is a 30-day appeal time. 


The Board reviewed the meeting minutes from May 29, 2018.  After a typographical error was corrected, David Rochefort made a motion to approve the minutes.  Ralph Hodgman seconded the motion.  The motion passed by all.


AT 7:00, Eddy Moore made a motion to adjourn.  David Rochefort seconded the motion.  The motion passed by all.


Submitted by,

Joanna Ray