APPROVED

 

TOWN OF PELHAM

ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT MEETING

September 9, 2013

 

The Chairman David Hennessey called the meeting to order at approximately 7:00 pm.

 

The acting Secretary Chris LaFrance called roll:

 

PRESENT:

 

 

 

ABSENT:

David Hennessey, Svetlana Paliy, Peter McNamara, Chris LaFrance, Alternate Pauline Guay, Alternate Darlene Culbert, Alternate Lance Ouellette, Planning Director/Zoning Administrator Jeff Gowan

 

Bill Kearney, Alternate Kevin O’Sullivan

 

ELECTION OF OFFICER – Secretary

 

Mr. McNamara nominated Mr. LaFrance to be Secretary.  Ms. Paliy seconded the nomination.

 

MOTION:

(McNamara/Paliy) To appoint Mr. LaFrance as Secretary.

 

VOTE:

 

(4-0-0) The motion carried. 

 

 

HEARING(S):

 

Case #ZO2013-00024

DOHERTY, Timothy  -  29 Wood Road  -  Map 30 Lot 11-373 (26 Wood Road)– Seeking a Variance concerning Article III, Sections 307-8, 307-12, Table One and 307-14 to permit the construction of a 26ft.x44ft addition, to raze and rebuild the existing dwelling to a ranch style home and add a 26ftx8ft farmer’s porch to the front.  Total proposed living space is 2028SF to also include exterior stairs (front, side & rear) at door locations.

 

Mr. Ouellette was appointed to vote.

 

Mr. LaFrance read the list of abutters aloud. There were no persons present who did not have their name read, or who had difficulty with notification.

 

Mr. Timothy Doherty came forward and read aloud a prepared statement that provided an explanation as to what he proposed and the reasons he felt a variance should be granted.  In summary,  he was seeking to construct a 26ftx44ft addition, raze and rebuild the existing dwelling with a farmer’s porch (26ftx8ft) along the right half of the house front.  The new home would be a 2028SF ranch style structure that would meet all of Pelham’s building setbacks.  The applicant’s property is a preexisting nonconforming lot of record located in the residential district containing .58 acres.  The lot has 179ft. of frontage on Wood Road.  A Shore Land Protection permit will be needed to proceed with the project.  Mr. Doherty said while having a new Department of Environmental Services ‘DES’ approved septic system installed they were faced  with the characteristics of the land unlike the neighboring lots, such as steep embankments and poor visibility entering/existing the lot.  The proposed home design addresses the uniqueness of the lot by allowing safe access and creates an opportunity to control the velocity and treatment of water before it left the property. 

 

In the interest of transparency, Mr. McNamara recused himself from hearing the case because he served on the Planning Board with the applicant.     Ms. Guay was appointed to vote. 

 

Mr. Doherty submitted photographs of the house and the neighborhood.  He confirmed that the Board had received the charts showing the comparison of lot usage of neighbors (by percent) and the comparison of lot usage of neighbors with garages.  Mr. Hennessey acknowledged that the charts had been submitted with the application package to the Board.   Mr. Doherty then read aloud the variance criteria answers as submitted with his application package to the Board.  He received approximately eleven letters of support from  abutters and submitted copies of such to the Board for review.  Mr. Hennessey read a portion of each letter aloud ; all were in support of the requested variance. 

 

Mr. Doherty reviewed the comparison charts of lot usage by neighbors showing lot sizes (in SF.), building percentage and footprint.  This chart compared the neighbor’s lots to Mr. Doherty’s lot.  The average building percent of neighbors was 11.43%; Mr. Doherty present home represented 4.07% and with the requested variance (after construction) would represent 8.85%, putting them in a realistic average, but remaining less than the surrounding properties.  In comparing his lot to others in the neighborhood with garages, the percent of lots used is 10.7% and with the variance, Mr. Doherty’s lot (with a garage) would use 8.85%.  Mr. Doherty reviewed a depiction of the proposed home and the topographic map of the lot.  He noted because of the sloping on the lot they would need to meeting with DES Shore Land Protection who would ultimately decide the location of the driveway. 

 

Ms. Guay asked for the date of the certified plan.  Mr. LaFrance saw that the as-built plan was done January, 2006. 

 

PUBLIC INPUT

 

Mr. Pete Badger, 21A Wood Road , owner of parcel diagonally across the street from the property to be developed, came forward to voice his concern for the water quality of Little Island Pond (pre- and post-development).   He noted that the drainage culvert across the street from Mr. Doherty was on his property.  He had installed it approximately twenty years ago when he purchased the property because the existing pipeline underneath the roadway was inadequate.   Mr. Badger said his concern was that the facility was done correctly during construction to protect the quality of water in the pond.  And in the long term that the water runoff from the facility was also treated as such to protect the quality of water.  He also wanted to know that the on-site septic system would support the proposed use. 

 

Mr. Doherty responded stating one reason they proposed the plan in the manner it was presented was to slow the velocity of water coming off the site.  The plan would need to go through review by Shore Land Protection because they were within 250ft. of the water and present a plan showing the impervious surface.  He said they wouldn’t be able to obtain permits from the State or Town until showing drainage.  He noted that the work would have to be done in accordance with how the State wanted it done.  Mr. Doherty said abutters would be notified of the comment process (through DES); abutters on each side of the water would have the ability to make comments.  Mr. Gowan confirmed that there would be a comment process through DES; however the Town didn’t get involved with the State’s process very much.  He told the Board during any construction erosion controls would have to be in place to prevent any runoff or contamination to get to the other side of the culvert.   

 

Mr. Hennessey questioned if the runoff and speed of runoff fell under the Planning Department’s purview.  Mr. Gowan said it would when a building permit was being issued.  Mr. Doherty said there was a possibility of adding a man hole in front of the culvert.  There was a possibility the State may require a closed culvert, which would bring the storm drainage further away from the leach field and go into a catch basin.  He said there were a number of things that could be done, but at this point it wasn’t known definitively what the State would want done until they reviewed the site. 

 

Mr. Hennessey explained to the public that the Zoning Board didn’t get into Planning Board issues.  He said they could place conditions on a variance, but in the absence of State review the proposal couldn’t take place.  He recommended if any abutters had issues, they should provide input and their opinion to the State. 

 

Mr. Gowan said Mr. Doherty was a member of the Planning Board and therefore understood the types of issues that were discussed, such as erosion control and not exacerbating conditions.  He said the construction process would be verified through the Planning Department. 

 

Mr. LaFrance commented that he had done research on the case and found it easier to vote in favor of the variance based on the fact that it met all setbacks and other criteria. 

 

Mr. Hennessey said the application was very complete and the answers to the five variance criteria were extremely well prepared.  He felt the thing that stood out in the application was the reason why the applicant’s lot was unique and stood out from the other lots.  He appreciated the charts showing the comparison  of use between the applicant’s lot and the neighboring lots.  He commended Mr. Doherty for the information contained in the application, which helped the Board toward making their decision. 

 

BALLOT VOTE

#ZO2013-00024:

 

Mr. Hennessey – Yes to all criteria

Ms. Paliy – Yes to all criteria

Mr. LaFrance -  Yes to all criteria

Mr. Ouellette – Yes to all criteria

Ms. Guay – Yes to all criteria

 

VOTE:

 

 

(5-0-0) The motion carried.

 

 

VARIANCE GRANTED

 

Mr. McNamara returned to the Board. 

 

Case #ZO2013-00025

CIAMPA, Paul & Kelly -  3 Colonial Drive -  Map 21 lot 3-101-7 – Seeking a Variance concerning Article III, Section 307-12 to permit the existing playhouse to remain 2ft. from the property line. 

 

Ms. Culbert was appointed to vote regarding the case.

 

Ms. Paliy said she knew the applicant from speaking with them in the Town, but felt there was no conflict and she could remain unbiased when making a decision.  There was no objection to Ms. Paliy remaining seated. 

 

Mr. LaFrance read the list of abutters aloud. There were no persons present who did not have their name read, or who had difficulty with notification.

 

The applicants Paul and Kelly Ciampa came forward to discuss their application for variance.  Mr. Ciampa said the playhouse in question was permitted, constructed and gone through inspections by the Town in 2010.  He explained that they were notified of a complaint received by the Planning Department approximately 2.5 years after the structure had been built.  The structure has electricity but had no water or heat.  It was not a viable dwelling for living.  The playhouse was built for the applicant’s adult children.  Mr. Ciampa said they had a plot plan done and found that the building in question was 2ft. from the boundary line.  He said the character of the building mimicked the shape of the home dwelling, but at a smaller scale.  He believed the playhouse brought value to the property because it was a similar use to that of other neighborhood properties. 

 

Mr. Ciampa reviewed the variance criteria as submitted with the application noting that the structure met all other requirements except setback.  He noted that there was a large wooded buffer between his property and the direct abutter’s property.  There were restrictions on the other portions of the property that precluded them from constructing the structure elsewhere.  Mr. Ciampa said it would be a substantial hardship to move the structure back to the setback requirements given it had been in existence for approximately three years and it was wired for electricity. 

 

Mr. Ouellette asked for the size of the structure.  Mr. Ciampa said the structure was 12ft.x16ft. ; it is not on a foundation. 

 

There was clarification made regarding the setback; one corner of the existing playhouse structure was 2ft. from the lot line.  Mr. Hennessey wanted to know how the building was constructed in its present location.   Mr. Gowan said when he reviews an application for a permit he reviews a sketch of the proposed structure to determine where it sat in relation to property lines, wetlands, easements, etc.  He didn’t believe the applicants realized where the property line was when they filled out the application.  Mr. Ciampa said using a street map and septic design map he went to the street and sighted down what he thought would be the property line.  He said there is a slight variation in the way the map is turned; he looked straight instead of looking at an angle.  Mr. Gowan said an abutter was concerned, which led to the Planning Department becoming involved (through Code Enforcement).   He advised the applicant that going to the Zoning Board would be appropriate.  At first it was believed that the structure was over the property line, but later learned when a plot plan was done that the structure was within the setback and 2ft. from the property line. 

 

Mr. Ouellette asked how the abutter reacted when finding out the structure wasn’t over the property line.  Mr. Gowan told the Board that the Zoning Compliance person in his office communicated with the abutter.  He didn’t want to speculate on the exact verbiage, but noted the abutter was aware through notification of the meeting and through follow up by the Zoning Compliance person that a hearing was scheduled .  The abutter was also given general advice regarding how the processed worked.  Mr. Hennessey said the Board couldn’t read into the abutter’s absence that they were fine with the variance request. 

 

Ms. Guay saw there was a good sized buffer between the applicant and the abutter.  She was curious as to how often the playhouse was used, the hours it was used and how many teenagers at a time used it.  Mr. Ciampa said there was only one teenager that used the playhouse during hockey season.  He commented that he wasn’t allowed to watch the Bruins games in the house.  He said the playhouse was all insulated and was mostly used between 4pm and 9pm.  He said their neighborhood was quiet and they maintained a quiet neighborhood. 

 

Ms. Paliy asked if the abutter was concerned that the playhouse may be on their property.   Mr. Gowan said the abutter believed that the playhouse could possibly be encroaching upon their property.  He said it was odd that the complaint was received a couple years after permits being pulled and construction was done.  He couldn’t speak to why; it simply came to the Planning Department’s attention.  The action caused the Ciampas to investigate and learn they needed relief.  The lot had some slope issues that caused the structure to be placed where it was. 

 

Mr. McNamara wanted to know how far away the abutter’s house was to the property line.  Mr. Ciampa believed it was roughly 40ft-50ft.  Mr. McNamara asked how thick the buffer was.  Mr. Ciampa said he couldn’t see the abutter’s property unless the leaves were off the trees; it consisted of approximately 15ft. of hardwood and pine.  Mr. McNamara asked why the playhouse couldn’t have been located in the area where the shed was shown on the plan.  Ms. Ciampa said on the right side of the property there was a Town easement of water (seasonably wet) where the Tennessee Gas Line went through.  She explained their lot was altered when the pipeline was put in; the terrain became sloped and water ran toward their yard.  What had been a flat dry parcel was now contoured and seasonably wet; they’ve been since experiencing water in their basement.  Tennessee Gas had a company come to their parcel and attempt to fill and re-grade the area.   Mr. McNamara was concerned with the structure being so close to the line in the event the buffer was to go away in the future. 

 

Mr. Hennessey said variances ran with the property. The Board had to look at the parcel, not the particular situation of the applicant.   Ms. Guay questioned if the variance  could be conditional.  Mr. Hennessey said variances ran with a property and couldn’t be terminated.  Mr. Gowan disagreed.  He received comment from Town Counsel that the Board could condition virtually any variance and special exception granted.  Mr. Hennessey asked if they could have a variance terminate upon change of property.  Mr. Gowan answered yes.  He didn’t suggest doing it very often and believed they would need a special reason to do so.  Mr. Ouellette believed the case to be special because the structure was already in place versus a request for a structure that wasn’t yet constructed.   Ms. Paliy felt one of the issues was the structure being called a playhouse.  She believed the structure to be nothing more than a shed.  Mr. Hennessey understood that the playhouse wasn’t habitable overnight, but it commented it was being used for more than a place to gather garden tools.  Mr. Ciampa said he used it as a place he could relax.  Ms. Paliy also noted that the Board wasn’t discussing use, they were discussing area. 

 

Mr. McNamara said he would feel more comfortable limiting the use to the current tenants.   Mr. Ciampa said he would like to know if he would have to tear the structure down if one day they decided to sell the property because it would then become a detraction instead of a benefit. 

 

The Board entertained a site walk by making the following motion:

 

MOTION:

(Guay/LaFrance) To conduct a Site Walk. 

 

VOTE:

 

(5-0-0) The motion carried. 

 

A site walk was scheduled for October 5, 2013 beginning at 9am.

 

The case was date specified to Thursday, October 17, 2013.

 

SITE WALK – October 5, 2015   9am

Case #ZO2013-00025 - CIAMPA, Paul & Kelly -  3 Colonial Drive -  Map 21 lot 3-101-7

 

 

DATE SPECIFIED PLAN -  October 17, 2013:

Case #ZO2013-00025 - CIAMPA, Paul & Kelly -  3 Colonial Drive -  Map 21 lot 3-101-7

 

 

MINUTES REVIEW

 

MOTION:

(McNamara/LaFrance) To approve the August 12, 2013 meeting minutes as amended.

 

VOTE:

 

(4-0-0) The motion carried. 

 

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

MOTION:

(LaFrance/McNamara) To adjourn the meeting.

 

VOTE:

 

(4-0-0) The motion carried. 

 

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:10pm.

Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                                Charity A. Landry              

                                                                                                Recording Secretary