ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT

June 22nd, 2011

 

Members Present:   Dan Beers, Dave Carney, Ken Chester, Hunt Dowse, Jon Grosjean, Linda Renna, Jeff Reder, Alison Rossiter, and Linda Coughlan, Recording Secretary

 

Others Attending: Jonathan Gibson, Don & Rita Klug, Steve Fillebrown, Marcia Neuhardt, Andy Peterson, Bobbie Coffin, Scott Manning, Kathy Hatab, Michael & Georgiann Fallon, Betty Sweeney, Dennis Rossiter, John Jordan, Dave Anderson, Mark Ellingwood

 

7:00 P.M.-  Alison Rossiter called the business portion of the meeting to order. She welcomed and introduced Jeff Reder, the new alternate member of the Board. The minutes of the November 10th, 2010 meeting were accepted as presented.  

 

Other Business:

Alison began by saying the annual election of officers for the Zoning Board takes place in April. Since this was the first meeting of 2011, the election has not been done for this year.  After brief discussion, the Board voted to have Alison stay on for another year as Chair and for Hunt Dowse to stay on as Vice-Chair. Alison mentioned the Spring Planning and Zoning Conference held on June 11th. She said Steve Froling from the Planning Board had attended and brought back information relative to changes in NH Land Use Change Law. Copies of the information will be made for the Board. It was noted that there is now only a "variance" not a "use" or "area" variance. There was also a change on how alternate members may participate at meetings as non-voting members. Hunt suggested that the Board discuss these changes at the business portion of the meeting on July 27th prior to the scheduled hearing.

 

7:15 P.M. – Gibson Hearing

Alison called the hearing to order and introduced the Board. She said voting members for the hearing would be Hunt Dowse, Ken Chester, Jon Grosjean, Dan LaPlante and herself. Alternate members would be Linda Renna, Dave Carney and Jeff Reder.  Alison read the published notice which stated this was a hearing for an application by Jonathan & Camille Gibson for a Home Based Business under Article 15.6.9. She noted that fees had been paid and the notice had been published, posted and sent to abutters. Alison referenced a note from abutter Jean MacFarlane who said she was in favor of the business. She explained the procedures that would be followed during the hearing beginning with the applicant's testimony, followed by Board comments or questions, and then the hearing would be opened for public comments or questions. She advised the public that any comments or questions should be directed through the chair. Alison explained that that if all of the conditions for the article are not met, the Board cannot grant the application. If they are all met, they are required to approve the application. 

 

Applicant's Testimony:

Jonathan Gibson came forward to begin his testimony. He said he and his wife are under contract to purchase the Sweeney house at 14 Main Street. He said they would like to live and work there. Jonathan said in the beginning they plan to use one room in the dwelling as a showroom for his pewter work and the fiber art work of his wife which includes quilts. He said the business which is 45 years old, was started by his father. Jonathan said there are no employees; it's just he and his wife. Jonathan said they would like to renovate the barn which would take a year or two and have that as their workshop and studio space. He said the barn at 14 Main Street is about the same size of his existing workshop, about 16 x 45 feet.

 

Jonathan said he is on the Historic District Commission in Hillsborough and is aware that if he were to make any changes to the exterior of the buildings, the Hancock Historic Commission would need to be consulted. He said he thought the parking would not be a problem since it's a big driveway and on the day of the house inspection, 7 cars had easily fit in the driveway. He presented a picture with the 7 cars as they had been parked in the driveway. Jonathan added that a typical day might involve 2 to 3 cars but they have had visits by school children or seniors that came by a van or a bus. He finished by saying that he thought his business was a good fit for the village with minimal impact.      

 

The Board moved on to review the testimony as provided by the applicants in their application:

15.6.9.1) The proposed Home-Based Business is of a type which is customarily incidental to the principal use of a Lot for residential purposes:

The proposed home business will be secondary/incidental to the dwelling aspect of the subject property. One room in the house (front parlor) will be used as a showroom. Workshop to be built in barn.

 

 15.6.9.2) The proposed Home-Based Business shall be owned and operated strictly by the owner or owners of the principal Dwelling on the Lot which shall be the principal and ordinary Dwelling of said owner or owners. Should the owner or owners move his/her/their residence, the owner or owners must obtain a new Special Exception or discontinue the Home-Based Business within three (3) months.

We will be living at the proposed business location.

 

15.6.9.3) There shall be no changes to the exterior appearance of the buildings which alter the character of the Dwelling unit or Accessory Structure unless specifically approved or required by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

We are not planning exterior changes to the dwelling or barn at this time. We may want to add or two windows to the barn in the future and understand that requires Historic Commission approval.

 

15.6.9.4) The proposed Home-Based Business shall normally be operated on or from the Lot of the resident's Dwelling unit, but the ZBA may expressly approve the use of an abutting Lot owned by the resident for this purpose.

We intend to operate the business on our lot only.

 

15.6.9.5) The proposed Home-Based Business shall be operated in or from the owner's Dwelling and existing or new accessory buildings, or such new Structures as may be expressly approved by the ZBA. New Structures constructed for use by the business shall not exceed two stories, and their height, area, design, and appearance shall not alter the character of the neighborhood. In the Residential District, the height of new Structures shall not exceed that of the residence by a significant amount, and the footprint of the building shall be compatible in scale to the residence. Trailers may not be used for storage or as accessory Structures other than a mobile home used as the primary residence.   

The proposed business will be run from within the home (1 room) and ultimately, in the barn. No new structures are planned. There will not be any outside storage, trailers of any kind.

 

15.6.9.6) In the Residential District, no more than three (3) non-resident persons employed in a Home-Based Business may be on-site at one time. In the Rural and Agricultural District, no more than 6 (six) non-resident persons employed in a Home-Based Business may be on-site at one time.

My wife and I will run the proposed business with no employees. (Jonathan said at some point he wished to teach one, two or three apprentices his craft which the Board said should be noted in his testimony).

 

15.6.9.7) The use shall not result in excessive increases in traffic. No business traffic or heavy equipment activity shall occur before 6:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. except for situations when trucks are used for snow or ice removal. The ZBA may further limit the hours or days of operation to such an extent as it deems necessary to prevent adverse effects on the surrounding properties:

Traffic to proposed business location will not be excessive. Two or three cars per day are average at present location in Hillsborough Center (Historic District). We have two customer parking places and this is ample. Thurs. M-F-Sat 9-5 pm. Jonathan amended this to up to 8 vehicles could be parked in the driveway.

 

15.6.9.8) One truck up to 20,000 lb. GVW, which is used in the business, may be parked on the premises. More than one truck or larger trucks and other equipment may be permitted only if the ZBA finds that they shall not violate any of the conditions for the proposed use.

No business vehicles on premises. They only have the one Subaru which is their personal as well as business vehicle.

 

15.6.9.9) Outdoor storage of good, materials, or equipment shall be screened from roads and surrounding properties by natural or structural means or a combination of both to such an extent and in such manner as may be required and approved by the ZBA.

No outdoor storage of equipment or goods.

 

15.6.9.10) There shall be no window displays or other additions or changes made to the property which are normally associated with business or commercial use.

No window displays or changes to property.

 

15.6.911) Signs shall be permitted for a Home-Based Business provided they comply with other applicable sign requirements, except that they may not be illuminated and may not exceed an area of 3 square feet per side.

We will want to have a professionally made sign which will not exceed 3 square feet per side, as per ordinance. Jonathan showed the Board a printed out picture of his sign. He said it could be made smaller if he needed to.

 

15.6.9.12) The Special Exception shall become void if any significant changes in the business occur, if any conditions of approval of the use are violated, or when the business ceases operation. If the business is proposed to continue following sale or transfer of the property where the business is located, a new application for Special Exception must be approved before continuation of the business use.

 We fully understand section 12.

 

The Board then reviewed the applicants' responses to 15.5 Special Exceptions – General Conditions:

 

  1. The proposed use is similar to one or more of the uses already authorized in the District.

Other businesses exist on Main Street. We feel that our high quality hand crafted pieces, i.e. pewter ware, quilts, etc. would blend wonderfully with Hancock's Main Street.

 

  1. The specific site is an approved location for the proposed use.

The house and barn at 14 Main Street provide good visibility for the proposed home-based business.

 

  1.  The proposed use would not adversely affect property values of neighboring properties:

My wife and I are nationally recognized artists. We'd like to think there are no adverse effects to our proposed use.

 

  1.  The proposed use and the associated plans for parking, access and egress would not create a nuisance or serious hazard to pedestrian or vehicular traffic or excessive traffic congestion nor create excessive wear and tear on public streets.

There are approximately 6 parking spaces available at 14 Main Street. That is more than enough as we only have one car. Visibility is fine so entrance and exiting to Main Street is safe. (This was amended to up to 8 parking spaces)

 

  1. The proposed use, following installation of visual and noise screening measure by natural or structural means to the extent and in the manner as may be specifically determined by the Board, would not create a nuisance to neighboring properties by reason of noise, odors, fumes, smoke, dust, vibrations, light, sound, or electromagnetic or communications interference or the storage or dissemination of hazardous materials or otherwise be injurious, obnoxious or offensive:

The proposed use will not create noise, odors, fumes, dust, vibrations, light, sound, and no hazardous materials will be stored on site. Hunt asked what material was used in his pewter work. Jonathan said the material used was mostly tin with a little of copper. He said there is no lead and no scrap since he recycles all of the shavings.

 

  1. Adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation of the use, including (where applicable) facilities for potable water and disposal of waste:

We're planning on using the front parlor for a showroom to start. Eventually, the showroom will move out back to the barn when same is insulated and heated.

     

  1. The proposed use is consistent with the purposes and intent of the Zoning Ordinance and the Hancock Master Plan, after having given due consideration to recommendations if any, received from the Planning Board; and

We feel the proposed use is consistent with Hancock's Zoning Ordinance and Master Plan. The use will be secondary to the dwelling function and we promote the arts.

 

  1. The proposed use falls within and meets all of the conditions of a Special Exception hereinafter listed.

We believe we meet all of the conditions of a Special Exception.  

 

Alison asked the Board if they had any questions or comments relative to the testimony. She asked if there were any fumes or odors involved in the process. Jonathan said there were fumes but he will have an exhaust fan at the back of the barn. He said he uses an electric casting furnace that runs around 550 degrees. He said the material is sent to him already milled and ready to put on his lathe. Jonathan said the pewter is poured into the molds and immersed in the casting furnace.   

 

Dan Beers asked if the material came in on pallets and Jonathan said he receives 9 or 10 50 lbs. boxes by UPS once a month.

 

Dave Carney asked what the noise level of the exhaust fan was like and Jonathan said it sounded like a window fan and he could put a hood over the casting furnace as a condition of the decision. Jonathan said the exhaust fan would be at the back of the barn, facing out to the back yard. Dave asked if the 3 square foot size of the sign included the base or was it just the sign portion. It was determined that it was main part of the sign.

 

At this point Alison asked Jonathan if he had any additional comments which he said he did not. She then opened the hearing to the public for comments or questions.

 

Scott Manning said as an abutter he was concerned with what he has heard in the testimony regarding the exhaust fan, the lathe, and parking.  He said the Main Street Committee had working on calming traffic on Main Street and after looking at the picture of the 7 cars parked in the driveway, he was concerned with people backing in and out into traffic. He said it appears that this is a retail business that would be in the residential district. Scott said he would be sandwiched between two commercial properties and that he felt he had to object. He added he feels bad because he has patronized the business and he also feels bad for the Sweeney's who wish to sell the property but he is against the proposal.

 

Georgiann Fallon said she was confused. The notice said it's Gibson Pewter and Gibson Fiber Arts. Does that mean there are two businesses involved and would that mean additional cars and employees.  Jonathan answered by saying his wife would have her fiber art work for sale and the number of cars he had mentioned was from both he and his wife's customers.  He said there were no employees; except in the future he would like to have up to three apprentices.

 

Linda Renna asked if a lot of his business was mail order and Jonathan said about half of it was mail order.

 

Betty Sweeney,  the owner of 14 Main Street, said as far as business is concerned, her house had been a livery stable one generation ago and other houses had also been businesses in the past.

 

Mike Fallon said he would like to have it made clear for the record whether the application was for one business or two.  And he questioned if the answers covered one or both businesses. Jonathan said it was for Gibson Pewter but his wife's fiber art would also be sold.

 

Mike went on to say that when Jonathan had considered the Manning house for the pewter business, he had been supportive since that property was to be included as part of the commercial zone. He said he doesn't think this use is an approved use for the residential district and it's not in conformity with the residential district. He added that the driveway is for residential use and retail use should require a driveway that meets commercial requirements.

 

Betty Sweeney noted that her house had also been a filling station and the house next door had been a tea house.

 

Kathy Hatab said her feelings echo's the feelings of the Fallon's. She said she lives across from the house in question and thinks parking will be a problem. She said she believes people will park where they shouldn't and it would be dangerous for people backing out into the street and dangerous for pedestrian traffic as well. Kathy said it seems to be more of a retail business than it is a home based business and she feels it doesn't belong in the residential neighborhood. She said since this location is more visible than where the business is located in Hillsborough and there will be more traffic especially during the fall foliage season.  Kathy said she is afraid cars will park in front of her house and she is not in favor of this location for the business.

 

Rita Klug said she is a next door neighbor and she has no opposition at all to the business. She said she was satisfied with the answers given regarding noise and although parking is an unknown, she thought it was a good business to have in town.

 

Don Klug said he agreed with his wife and felt that any open issues that have been discussed could be put in the final statement as conditions.  

 

Dennis Rossiter said the Main Street Committee had put a lot of time in considering parking on Main Street. He said there are multiple cars parking and backing out into the road on Main Street at the store, at Fiddleheads, and the library. Dennis said the number of cars involved with the business is speculative and he doesn't see that it would present a problem.

 

Ken Chester said trying to back out into Main Street at the store or Fiddleheads can pose a problem when you're parked next to a SUV with tinted windows. He said this proposed business site has a long site line which isn't the case at either the store or Fiddleheads at times.

 

Mike Fallon said he would he would like to underscore the commercial requirements for a parking lot. He said if this were a vacant lot they would have to meet commercial construction requirements as well as ingress and egress requirements. He added that having been in real estate investment for 40 years, he has found that there is a delicate balance between residential and commercial districts and a residential district can be changed forever when a commercial enterprise moves in. He added once that happens, you can't get it back.

 

Linda Renna asked if there was public parking behind the Library and was told that it was. She said there seemed to be adequate parking back there where customers could park and walk to the business.

 

Bobbie Coffin said she thought it was a great fit for the neighborhood, a very tasteful business.

 

Hunt asked select board member John Jordan about parking on Main Street and he said there is no parking on either side of Main Street until you reach the Lord property and the old post office building. Parking on Main Street is being closely enforced by the PD at the request of the Selectboard.

 

Dennis Rossiter said he thought it was a great business for the village and would benefit the Inn, the store and Fiddleheads Café by drawing in customers.

 

Andy Peterson said he was impressed with the orderly hearing process and the ordinance with its clear criteria. He said he was here to support the proposed use and thought it would add to the vitality of Main Street. Andy said the application was for a husband and wife who were both fine artisans and manufacture fine products. He said he thought it would have less impact than other businesses might have such as a workshop. He did not feel the business would reduce property values. Andy said he thought it would benefit the community and they only wish to be good neighbors.

 

There being no further questions or comments from the public, that portion of the hearing was closed and the Board would move into their discussion portion.

 

Hunt said parking seems to be one issue they should discuss further. He asked Jonathan how he would deal with parking on Saturdays or during foliage season. Jonathan said the average number of cars now is 3 or 4 per day but he doesn't have a real solution. Ken Chester said maybe the sign could have an arrow indicating that parking should be in the driveway to keep people from parking on the street.

 

Hunt said the town says you can have a home-based business if all of the criteria are met. The ordinance doesn't distinguish between home-based business and retail. He said they have to go by the ordinance and any change would need to be brought to the Planning Board.

 

Dave Carney asked if there are similar businesses in the district and Linda Renna said Woody Huntington had his carpentry business on Depot Road but it was noted that this is not on Main Street.   Dave asked if it should be considered to be two businesses.

 

Jeff Reder said the Board needs to nail down if it's one business or two. He asked how the taxes are filed and Jonathan said they file separately under Schedule C.   Jonathan said the business is Gibson Pewter but they will also sell his wife's quilts and other fiber art.

 

At this point, Jonathan said he had told his wife if there were abutters who were not happy with the proposed business, he would withdraw the application. He said he would now like to withdraw the application. He said with the abutter objections regarding property values diminishing and parking issues, he didn't want to be adversarial and cause problems. Therefore, he wished to withdraw the application.

 

Alison said it was his right to make that decision and asked him if he wanted to withdraw the application and Jonathan said yes, that's what he wanted to do.  He thanked the Board for meeting with him.

 

Mark Ellingwood –

Mark Ellingwood came forward with a question on deer fencing. He said the Fish and Game Dept. provides fencing for people in the community with orchards to keep deer out.  He said the fence can be as minimal as 3 strands of electric wire or up to 8 feet tall wire fencing. He said the fencing varies from site to site.  Mark said he was here to ask if there are any fencing restrictions regarding height or setbacks. 

 

Alison said she had found nothing in the town ordinances. The Board did find however, that at 8 feet tall, a fence fell under the definition of a "structure" and Mark would need to meet the setbacks for the site and be aware of the state and town right of ways from the road.  The setbacks for the Residential District were 30 feet back from the front and 20 back from the rear and side. In the Rural District the setbacks were 50 feet back from the front and 30 feet back from the side and rear. They noted the fence might fall under an agricultural use which might preclude town requirements. They suggested he speak to Kurt Grassett and check with the Building Inspector, Charlie Stevenson.

 

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:00 P.M.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Linda Coughlan

Recording Secretary