TOWN OF PELHAM
PLANNING BOARD MEETING
January 3, 2001
The Chairman, Victor Danevich, called the meeting to order at approximately 7:30 pm.
The Secretary, Bill Scanzani, called the roll:
PRESENT: Victor Danevich, Bill Scanzani, Jeff Gowan, Peter McNamara, Paddy Culbert, Henry DeLuca (arrived at approximately 9:15pm), Alternate Gael Ouellette, Selectmen’s Representative Deb Casey (arrived at approximately 7:38pm) , Interim Planning Director Clay Mitchell
ABSENT: Alternate Carl Huether, Alternate Richard Foote, Alternate Michael Soby
Mr. Danevich informed that Ms. Ouellette would vote for Henry DeLuca for the review of minutes.
OPEN SPACE PLANNED DEVELOPMENT ZONING ORDINANCE
Mr. Scanzani began by noting the changes discussed at the previous meeting. He provided the Board with an economic impact study of various housing types. He then reviewed the handout. ATTACHMENT #1.
Ms. Casey questioned Line 67, Adult Housing. She wanted to know if it were noted in the deed that children were not allowed. Mr. Scanzani said that was the intent. Ms. Casey said there were no restrictions noted. Mr. Scanzani said he didn’t have a problem clarifying the wording.
Mr. Dave Hennessey provided a handout from Mr. Mark Archambault of NRPC. ATTACHMENT #1. He noted that trying to restrict to age fifty-five, with no children might be difficult. He informed that there are good arguments to raising the age to sixty-two.
Ms. Holly Saurman suggested that adding the word ‘occupied’ might help clarify.
Mr. Scanzani went back to explaining the economic impact study he compiled. He summarized by saying the Town would not have a positive impact until an open space with incentives was in place. He said in the past when open space was reviewed it was not to keep the number of units as neutral, but to keep the number of bedrooms neutral because they determine the size of the septic and leach fields. He said the key was being able to have the property to tax, but not have to provide as many services. He said if more of an incentive given, the more positive impact the Town would have.
Mr. Gowan wanted to review the reasons for incentives and what value the open space would have with no incentive. He didn’t want open space to fail based on including incentives.
Mr. Scanzani said that by including the word 'shall' in line 27 it would give the Board the option to review plans of 10-lots or more as open space. He noted the need for developers to make money. He felt if there were no incentives there wouldn’t be many developments. Mr. Culbert said he was never for the mandatory piece. He felt that once a plan came in and if the Board wished to view it as open space, then it could be required.
Ms. Casey said at the start of the process the point was to view the community and what to preserve for twenty years from now. She said maybe the problem was everyone has an opinion of what they would like to see preserved. Ms. Casey said her understanding was the developments were set up to be able to sustain on their own. She would rather see the conservation of land versus forcing the Town to be a development for fifty-five and older persons with two bedrooms. Mr. Scanzani said his view didn’t differ much from hers, but the concern was the lack of large parcels (of 10 or more) left in Town. Mr. Danevich noted there were 46 parcels left. Mr. Scanzani said he felt that the majority would be four bedroom homes. He said there were currently no alternative living in Town. He said there needed to be an incentive to create such alternate housing. Ms. Casey said it could be done through the current elderly housing regulations. She said it was originally designed to preserve open space and provide for recreational facilities. Mr. Culbert disagreed. Mr. Scanzani said this type housing was being done in every other community. He said the discussion was at what age to have the adult living. Ms. Casey felt there were many unanswered concerns.
Mr. Peter Zohdi commented that mandatory was not a good deal. He felt that the option should be given to the developer and landowner to do either. He thought that an article could be added to the subdivision regulations that if the subdivision was not beneficial to the Town then they had to do open space. He said when it’s mandatory for zoning, the only body with authority would be the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Mr. Danevich asked his opinion if the wording was changed to conceptual, so a standard plan and conceptual of open space could be reviewed and a direction could be given. Mr. Zohdi agreed with the idea. He said that with the Town’s road system open space wouldn’t work in all areas. He used Valley Hill as an example. Mr. Scanzani said Valley Hill was based on a conventional plan, he asked what would happen if open space were currently on the books. Mr. Zohdi didn’t feel it would be an attractive development. Mr. Danevich confirmed that Mr. Zohdi preferred an option to replace the word shall in line 27.
Mr. Dave Mendes agreed with Mr. Zohdi. He said he believed in open space, but also felt that certain developments should be completed the way they were started.
Mr. Gowan said he would like to see developments conceptually proposed both ways, and then advocate which way the Board would like to see it done, instead of open space being mandatory.
Mr. Hennessey suggested leaving the word ‘shall’ in line 27 and then remove the sentence that begins on line 29.
Mr. Culbert suggested adding the words “conventional zoning and in accordance with open space development”. Ms. Casey asked if the discretion would be left to the Planning Board. Mr. Culbert answered yes. Mr. Scanzani said if those words were added, that line 29 should be deleted.
Mr. Zohdi felt the bottom line was the amount of money made. He felt that an option should be given. He informed that he did 90% of the work in Windham of which 70% was open space because the Planning Board prefers it. He said that not all subdivision could be done in open space because of the road designs. He ended by saying he didn’t mind Mr. Culbert’s wording suggestion as long as it was at the preliminary stage.
Mr. Gowan asked if Mr. Mitchell saw any legal pitfalls with the proposed new wording. Mr. Mitchell said the only potential pitfall was that the statute says the applicant may elect to forgo preliminary review. Mr. Scanzani felt with the proposed language the Board would see plans both ways. Mr. Gowan said if the sentence beginning on line 29 was deleted, he would like to see a reference to the Master Plan somewhere on the document. Mr. Mitchell felt that it could be done be saying that open space was a permitted use, then, in accordance with 674:21, a standard subdivision was required to get a conditional use permit. He felt that the ordinance set out the basic, fundamental framework and the regulations would implement it. Mr. Scanzani asked for clarification on the special use permit. Mr. Mitchell said he was proposing two scenarios, 1) special use permit, and 2) going with the way it’s written and add a sentence to adopt regulations. Mr. Culbert pointed out that over the years it would be fine-tuned.
The Board discussed the proposed changes to lines 26-32. The possibility of requiring waivers in line 32 was then discussed. Mr. Mitchell was concerned what criteria would be used if the section were going to change from being mandatory.
Mr. Mendes wanted to clarify that if a conventional plan were presented, an open space would also be required. He also wanted to know if it were the Board’s decision which way the subdivision would be done, even if the parcel were a continuation of a previous subdivision done conventionally. Mr. Danevich answered yes. Mr. Mendes pointed out that some of his clients prefer one acre lots with more expensive homes and wanted to know if it were solely up to the Board which way he would be required to build. Ms. Casey answered yes. Mr. Mendes said that would put him out of business. Ms. Casey said there were three ways to be exempt, 1) have the lots over 5 acres, 2) have under 10 lots at a time and 3) come before the Board and explain why open space wouldn’t work.
Mr. Hennessey suggested word smithing so certain exemptions would be allowed.
Mr. Zohdi said the majority of the larger parcels would be open space, but felt that options should be given. He said that waivers gave the Board all the authority and felt that the landowner should have some authority. He believed in surrounding Towns open space was not mandatory. Mr. Scanzani felt that the Town should have adopted open space ten years ago. He believed that the ordinance should be stricter than some surrounding Towns and in order to try and preserve what was left some towns do require open space development.
Mr. Danevich asked the Board to give their perspective on how they would like to see the ordinance read.
Mr. McNamara, Ms. Ouellette, Mr. Gowan, Mr. Scanzani, Ms. Casey, and Mr. Danevich were in favor of keeping the word ‘shall’ (and viewing both types of plans), as long as criteria was included (as Mr. Mitchell had previously discussed). Mr. Culbert was in favor of viewing both types of plans, but not make it mandatory.
Ms. Ouellette asked if the only way to have a developer bring in two plans was to have one be mandatory. Mr. Mitchell felt the only way the developer would bring both, is if they did not want to do open space.
Ms. Saurman wanted to know if the requirement remained mandatory for open space, unless it was a sensitive piece of land, who would decide what a sensitive piece of land was. She inquired whom the land was more sensitive to. Mr. Gowan said it came down to the argument of money. He felt that something had to be in place to protect the few areas in Town that were left in its natural state. Ms. Saurman agreed, but felt that when a Board impedes based solely on preservation without strict identification of criteria that people would fight the ordinance and find a hole. Mr. Scanzani said the purpose for open space was spelled out in lines 11-22. Ms. Saurman said the ordinance stated the reasons to want open space, but the Board had been discussing mandating it. She said wanting and mandating were two different things.
Mr. Hennessey agreed with Ms. Saurman regarding the need for criteria. He felt that there were certain exceptions that required waivers and exemptions.
Mr. Mitchell wanted to know what prevented people from building $500,000 homes onto one-acre lots. Mr. Culbert said that if 40% was to be taken out (for roads and wetlands), the lot may not be one acre. Mr. Mitchell didn’t see the requirement for taking out 40% for open space. Ms. Casey asked if counsel covered it. She recalled that section e(i) was discussed by Attorney Bernie Campbell who pointed out that if the 15,000 SF was tied to 40% and a developer wanted to build on 20,000 SF they wouldn’t have to give 40%.
Ms. Saurman felt if it was reviewed as mandatory it would fail at vote.
Mr. DeLuca arrived. He was in attendance at the Municipal Building meeting earlier.
Mr. Scanzani suggested that “of one dwelling unit per 15,000 SF” from line 105 and lower the percent to 30%. Mr. Hennessey suggested adding the words “at least” before “30%”. There was a consensus from the Board that the proposed changes were acceptable. Mr. Hennessey then suggested adding the words “total area of the development”, which would include everything.
Mr. Mitchell gave a wording suggestion for line 31 and 32. He said that the sentence beginning on line 29 could be lined out. Ms. Casey suggested referencing the Master Plan under 3 (line 11).
Ms. Saurman clarified that the Board was asking voters to vote based on regulations not yet drafted. She clarified further that voters would be voting on an requirement for open space development, which would only be waivered, based on certain criteria yet to be developed. Ms. Casey said a public hearing would be held to craft the criteria. Mr. Danevich said a draft could be crafted prior to the vote in March.
Mr. Mitchell said that the provision of the state statute says that the Building Inspector could not issue a building permit that conflicted with a zoning ordinance. He said that during the period from which the ordinance was posted, developers could bring both plans (in anticipation of the vote). He explained that whatever plans were brought in between the last public hearing and the vote, even if approved, would not have vested rights. Mr. Gowan reiterated the need for having the criteria in place.
Ms. Casey suggested that the words ‘may either’ be deleted and replaced with the word ‘shall’ in line 74. She also suggested that in lines 75-76 the words ‘or otherwise demonstrate the possible number of conventional lots in’ be deleted. Mr. Culbert suggested adding ‘acceptable to the Planning Board as outlined in the subdivision regulations’ in place of the words deleted by Ms. Casey. There was a consensus that the proposed language was acceptable.
Mr. Culbert noted that the intent of the committee regarding adult housing was empty nesters. Ms. Casey asked Mr. Mitchell what some of the incentives were that Stratham included in their ordinance. Mr. Mitchell (who helped draft the Stratham ordinance) noted adult housing, public access to open space, preservation of frontage along existing roadways, identified agreements with farmers for agricultural uses of properties, incremental increases over the minimum requirement and they also permitted multi-family units (of up to four units per structure). He felt the policy decision should be based on issues.
Mr. Danevich asked the Board’s opinion regarding the incentives. There was a brief discussion regarding the limitation of children and how to ensure restrictions, which moved to into a discussion of how to target the age group most in need of housing. Mr. Danevich said the Board would adopt a deed restriction. Ms. Saurman said in her experience, age 55 was the average age of people who retire. She said if the age were set at 62 it would limit developers to the number of people they could attract to certain homes. Ms. Casey asked if the Board was suggesting having two tiers of incentives. Mr. Danevich said maybe there should be.
Ms. Alicia Hennessey informed that the ordinance mirrored Hollis’ in which the age was 55, but when it is put on the ballot the age would read 62. She said they were having a problem limiting children, which was difficult to enforce. She also noted that more people later in life are willing to take on debt to live in a larger home.
Mr. Scanzani said he felt that the Town was missing the opportunity to provide housing for younger professionals but who want their amenities and toys.
Mr. Danevich took a consensus from the Board if they preferred adult housing to be age 55 or age 62.
Mr. Scanzani, Mr. DeLuca, Mr. Culbert and Mr. Danevich preferred age 55. Mr. Gowan, Mr. McNamara and Ms. Casey preferred age 62. Mr. Danevich asked how to restrict school age children or subleasing. Mr. Mitchell said it could be done with a deed restriction. He said a condition of approval would be the final recording of the deeds in the registry.
Ms. Casey asked if line 60 eliminated wetlands and roads. Mr. Danevich and Mr. Scanzani felt it was already covered in e(i). Ms. Casey then asked if line 95 would include the words ‘or a reasonable buffer’ after the words “200 feet of open space”. Mr. Danevich said he was comfortable with adding the same words as previously added to line 32. Mr. Gowan suggested adding a period after the word ‘subdivisions’ in line 95 and delete the remaining sentence. He said the deleted sentence would then be replaced with the words previously added to line 32. The Board was all in agreement with the proposed changes.
Mr. Culbert suggested that in line 43, the word “may” be replaced with the word ‘shall’. The Board was in agreement with the proposed change.
Ms. Casey left the meeting.
Mr. Mitchell read the changes as follows:
1) Under 3, add: j. To assist in meeting the goals and objectives of the Master Plan;
2) Under 4a, delete the sentence beginning on line 29;
3) Under 4a, line 30, delete the word ‘unsuited’ and replace with the word ‘inappropriate’;
4) Under 4a, line 31, delete the word ‘waive’ and replace with the word ‘exempt’;
5) Under 4a, line 32, at the end of the sentence/paragraph, add the words ‘The Planning Board
shall adopt regulations to administer this exemption as part of the subdivision regulations’;
6) Under 4c, line 43, delete the word ‘may’ and replace with the word ‘shall’;
7) Under 5a(i), line 71, the sentence beginning with the words ‘Such age...’ will now read ‘Such
age restriction shall be a recorded deed restriction for the units within the development and
shall be acceptable to the Planning Board and enforceable by the Town of Pelham’;
8) Under 5a(ii), line 74, delete the words ‘may either’ and replace with the word ‘shall’;
9) Under 5a(ii), line 75, delete the following portion of the sentence ‘or otherwise demonstrate the possible number of conventional lots in a manner’;
10) Under 5c, line 95, put a period after the word subdivsions and delete the remaining sentence and replace with ‘The Planning Board shall adopt criteria as part of the subdivision regulations to administer this section.’
11) Under 5e(i), line 105, delete the words ‘of one dwelling unit per 15,000 SF’;
12) Under 5e(i), line 105, delete the words ‘40%’ and replace with ‘at least 30%’
13) Under 5e(ii), line 114, after the words Planning Board, add the words ‘in consultation with Conservation Commission’.
December 4, 2000
MOTION: (Scanzani/Gowan) To accept the minutes of December 4, 2000 as read.
VOTE: (5 - 0 - 0) The motion carries. Mr. DeLuca abstained.
December 18, 2000
MOTION: (Scanzani/McNamara) To accept the minutes of December 18, 2000 as read.
VOTE: (5 - 0 - 0) The motion carries. Mr. Culbert abstained.
A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting.
The motion was adjourned at approximately 10:28 pm.
Charity A. L. Willis