Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Jul 24, 2018

Approved Zoning Board Minutes - July 24, 2018

TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2018
6:00 PM


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: James Ramsey, Gail Ramsey, and Zoning Officer Milton Bratz


Chair Daine called the meeting to order at 6:00.  All voting members were present.


The Board reviewed an appeal letter submitted by Paul Smith and Mary Chace-Smith regarding the following case:


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.


The case was appealed within 30 days of the approval.  No public input will be allowed for this meeting.  All Board members had read the appeal and the letter will be part of the original case file.  The Board discussed each of the points made in the appeal.


The appeal states that section 6.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance was violated.  “A fence shall not be more than 3.5 feet in height along a front property line and may project into the required front yard when it is not situated on a corner lot.”  The Smith’s claim the proposed fence is situated along their front property line. 


Chair Daine stated that this fence height restriction is related to the property the fence is located on.  The fence is not in the Ramsey’s front yard, therefore it can be over 3.5 feet high.  The fence is not in the Smith’s front yard. Jim McMahon read the Zoning Ordinance definition of “frontage”.  The length of a lot at its front lot line; which borders on a public street or a private street that has been approved by the Planning Board in a subdivision. Chair Daine stated that this concern does not warrant a rehearing.  No Board members objected.


The appeal states that the proposed fence is in violation of State Statute 476:1 Fence as Private Nuisance and is considered a spite fence.  Chair Daine stated she read the minutes from the meeting and noted that the Ramsey’s stated they would like a fence over 6’ high to allow them privacy.  This is a 2’ extension of what the Zoning Ordinance allows.  Ralph stated that, according to the RSA, the fence could be a spite fence or as the Ramsey’s indicated.   Chair Daine stated that spite fence concerns would go to court and not the Town.  That would be a civil issue.  Jim McMahon recalled blue tarps installed indicating privacy is requested by the neighbor as well.  David added that the neighbor never stated concerns about this being a spite fence during the original hearing.  David also stated that the description of the proposed fence does not fit the description of a spite fence.  Ralph asked for the original response to the application regarding whether or not this fence would be a nuisance.  The application said no.  Chair Daine replied that the minutes did not reveal additional information, but the Board thought there would be no nuisance.  David read RSA 476:1 and it stated that the purpose of the spite fence was to annoy the owners or occupants of adjoining property.  Vice Chair LeSage agreed that spite fences were not mentioned during the original hearing. Ralph replied that this is why there is an appeal period.  Ralph added that if the Board denies a rehearing, it is up to the courts to decide.  Chair Daine stated the Ramsey’s explained that the slope of the property is the reason they need the fence to exceed 6’.


The appeal states that research indicates a privacy fence in the front yard reduces property value and/or curb appeal and that the fence would be located along the appellant’s front yard. 


David replied that the fence would not be on the appellant’s property.  Vice Chair LeSage stated that the original hearing did not contain any concern regarding property values.  Ralph added he did not feel the Smith’s front yard was facing the fence.  David agreed.


The appeal states that fence installation is not clearly defined by ordinance, state or federal statutes nor are they regulated in the State of New Hampshire.


Chair Daine stated the minutes reflect that the Board went above and beyond to address the secure installation of the fence.  Vice Chair LeSage added that the applicant would get a reputable company to install the fence.


The appeal states there was no evidence proved to the Board to demonstrate the fence would “require minimal maintenance” other than a statement from the applicant indicating the fence would be cedar.


Chair Daine stated the minutes reflect that the Board discussed the minimal maintenance for cedar fences and that this did not justify a rehearing.


The appeal states that no suitable plans of the proposed fence were presented for the Board for review. 


Chair Daine stated her opinion was that the Board went above and beyond to address the abutters concerns for safety.  If the fence was to be no taller than 6’, the applicants could have a group of friends over to build a fence without a special exception.  The Ramsey’s will be hiring a company with experience.  Ralph stated this was not justification to grant a rehearing. 


Vice Chair LeSage made a motion to deny the request for a rehearing.  Jim McMahon seconded the motion.  The motion to deny the rehearing request passed 4-1.


At 6:50, Vice Chair LeSage made a motion to adjourn.  David seconded the motion.  The motion passed by all.


Submitted by,

Joanna Ray