Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

May 10, 2016

Approved Zoning Board Minutes May 10, 2016

TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2016
6:00 PM

PRESENT: Chairman Eddy Moore, Vice Chair Art Tighe, Jessica Daine, David Rochefort, Guy Harriman, Jerry LeSage, and Joanna Ray (recording secretary)

OTHERS: Mike Clafkin (AHEAD), Ed King (Littleton Food Coop), and Ron Wareing (Horizons Engineering)

Chairman Moore called the meeting to order at 6:00. Guy Harriman was designated a voting member until Jerry LeSage arrives.

New Board member, David Rochefort, was introduced.

Hurry Om, LLC – Owner / Horizons Engineering, Inc. – Agent – ZBA16-04 – Request for a Variance relating to Article V, Section 5.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a lot depth less than the required 250’ at 335 Cottage Street, tax map 93-41, in the Commercial I zone.

Chairman Moore reviewed the application file. The fees were paid, department comments were submitted, the hearing was posted in the newspaper, and the abutters were notified. The case was considered complete. There were no conflicts noted.

Ron Wareing presented. The parcel is currently used as a motor lodge. There is another one on the adjacent lot. The presented plan shows a parcel of approximately one acre. The location is on the slope just beyond the dining room. There is a R.O.W. on the lot. The adjacent lot has the right to use the R.O.W. Ron explained that there is no current request for curb cut on Cottage Street. Along with the shared driveway, this area has a utility easement explained in a recorded easement. No building will be constructed in this area.

Ron identified the property line along Cottage Street as the front property line. The Zoning Ordinance requires new lots in the C-I zone to have 250’ in depth. The proposed lot includes a portion of the R.O.W. This is allowed, but Ron explained that there cannot be any construction in it. The application states the proposed depth is approximately 200’. Ron stated the approximate depth is 220’. There are no definite plans for construction, but the application suggests an eating establishment.

Jere Eames explained the properties he owns in the area. They include Exit 41 motel, the Irving’s lot, and the vacant parcel on the corner of Hebert Lane. Jere asked if the existing R.O.W. would change the building setbacks. Ron explained that the Town regulations state the structure must be at least 25’ from the side property line and they would not be building in the R.O.W. There was continued discussion about possible driveway locations.

The retention wall at the corner of Rt. 302 and Cottage Street was discussed. Jere Eames suggested the wall be cut back some for better visibility. This is a dangerous traffic spot and there is a lot going on in this area. Jere stated that, in the future, it is possible that there will be traffic light at this location.

Mike Clafkin asked what the reasoning was behind the origin of the lot dimensions. Mike asked the Board if adding a business in this location would be appropriate with the current traffic issues. There have been attempts to get a crosswalk at the Rt. 302 and Cottage Street intersection. Mike explained that he wanted to raise the safety issue of allowing the adjustment.

Chairman Moore explained that the Town voted years ago to have the specific dimensions in the commercial zone. There is no specific acreage. There has never been any changes to that.
Ed King stated that businesses usually have a back door for receiving. Ed suggested that might be the reason for the depth requirement. Ed stated the he too is concerned with safety in the area. He informed the Board that the Town is working on getting a crosswalk at the intersection. Ed hopes the Board will not approve something that will exasperate the situation.

Jessica stated the applicant still needs to go through the Planning Board and building permit processes. Art stated he did not want to discredit the concerns that have been voiced, but the ZBA cannot do much about the traffic with this variance request. Art also stated that he understands that moving the retaining wall back will be helpful.

Ron told the Board that this is a small area for the variance. Rotating the lot would give it the correct dimensions, but Cottage Street is the front.

Ron read the comments submitted on the application:

  • The request is for a minor dimensional requirement only. This will allow for a subdivision of the parcel in keeping with all other provisions of the district.
  • There will be no change of use or other changes or development not allowed in the district.
  • The unused parcel of land would be converted to a commercial use and provide economic and tax revenue benefits to the community.
  • Surrounding properties are commercial / lodging and would benefit from additional growth, especially if the lot is developed as an eating establishment. 
  • The land is not currently used for any purpose associated with the existing use.
  • This allows for use of the parcel within the confines of the district.

Art read the comments submitted by Town departments. These will be kept in the case file. There was no one else wanting to comment. The public input portion was closed.

The Board reviewed the submitted facts.

  • The application claims this is a minor dimensional request, but the request is for a 50’ variance. The Board asked if the public will be affected by not having that 50’. The size of the lot is not contrary to what is in the area. Safety issues are on the Cottage Street side of the property. Chairman Moore stated that the safety issue is contrary to public interest. Art stated that the request might be for a numerically minor adjustment, but the area is already congested. Art replied that he did not think the request was contrary to the public interest. The two properties that share the R.O.W. can work it out. Jessica agreed with Art. There would be public concern if the ingress and egress are both on the R.O.W. It would look like a U-turn. David agreed as well as Jerry. 
  • Chairman Moore stated the acreage does not matter, but the dimensions do. Art stated that the spirit of the ordinance, with this commercial lot, will be done with a commercial use. Everyone agreed.
  • Chairman Moore explained that substantial justice is being done. 
  • The Board agreed that property values will not be diminished. Chairman Moore said the use will be commercial just like the others around it. David added that there was nobody present to dispute that. The others agreed.
  • The Board discussed what the hardship element was for this request. Art reminded the Board that they cannot consider how this financially affects the applicant. Art stated that the Board needs to see that the applicant cannot use the land if the variance is not granted. The lot is currently being used. The previous owners did not suffer any hardship. Art did not feel that this criteria was met. Jessica discussed the requested dimensions. If the lot was rotated, it would work and they would not need a variance. Art stated the question goes back as to why these dimensions were set. David suggested this land was laid out prior to zoning. Chairman Moore said it has to do with what would be built in the commercial zone.

Chairman Moore opened the public input.

Jere said the Eastgate was built before him and he feels the dimensions were for esthetic reasons. Jere agreed that the building might predate zoning.

Ron explained that the lay of the land is a hardship. It has steep contours. In order to get the 250’ required depth, the dining room would need to be removed. Ed commented that preventing development would be an economic hardship.

The public input was closed again. Jerry stated that the hardship criteria makes sense after hearing Ron’s explanation. Jessica explained that there are many different forms of hardship.

  • Art stated that there will not be any zoning changes and there not any specific restrictions on the property. Chairman Moore did not see any problem with this.

The Board agreed with the findings of the facts as presented.

Jerry LeSage made a motion to approve Hurry Om, LLC – Owner / Horizons Engineering, Inc. – Agent – ZBA16-04 – Request for a Variance relating to Article V, Section 5.01 of the Littleton Zoning Ordinance to allow a lot depth less than the required 250’ at 335 Cottage Street, tax map 93-41, in the Commercial I zone with the following conditions:

  • The lot depth will be no less than 218’
  • The applicant must comply with all Federal, State, and Local regulations.

Jessica Daine second the motion. The motion passed 5-0.

Art Tighe made a motion to approve the February 23, 2016 minutes. Jessica Daine second the motion. The motion passed 5-0.

Jessica Daine nominated Eddy Moore as Chairman and Art Tighe as Vice Chair. Jerry LeSage second the nomination. The nomination passed by all.

Joanna Ray was appointed as recording secretary.

At 7:45, Art Tighe made a motion to adjourn. Jessica Daine second the motion. The motion passed by all.

Submitted by,
Joanna Ray