ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
April 25th, 2012
Members Present: Dan Beers, Ken Chester, Hunt Dowse, Jeff Reder, Linda Renna, Alison Rossiter, and Linda Coughlan, Recording Secretary
Others Attending: Sharon Monahan, Marcia Neuhardt, Don & Rita Klug, Dave & Kathy Anderson, Mr. & Mrs. Numel Pulido
7:00 P.M.- Graves Hearing
Alison called the hearing to order. She noted that the fees had been paid, the notice had been posted and published and abutters notified. Alison read the notice as it had been published and introduced the Board. She identified the voting members tonight would include herself, Hunt Dowse, Dan Beers, Ken Chester and Linda Renna. Alison said Jeff Reder would be the alternate member and would not be voting but would be able to participate in the hearing.
Alison 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 to the public for comments or questions.
Alison asked if Mary Graves was present to begin testimony. Sharon Monahan, the septic designer, came forward to say Mary was ill and she would be acting as her agent.
Sharon passed out copies of the septic plan. She pointed out the Graves property, which is located across from Hailey's garage. She noted the physical constraints on the property such as the deep ditch and wetlands on three sides. Sharon said there is a storm water culvert which has a state 75 foot setback and they couldn't meet that setback for the new leach field. She said the storm water culvert was part of the reason for the failed leach field. She said the area is also very steep which is another factor that makes it difficult to locate the leach field.
Hunt asked what types of soils were underneath the leach field. Sharon said there were 18 inches of fill and the area was all fill to the back and side of the houses.
Alison asked what type of system was going to be used. Sharon said it was an enviro-septic leaching system, which also would conform to the slope. She added if it were a stone and pipe system the area would have to be level.
Linda Renna asked if there was fill where the system was going to be located. Sharon said there isn't. She added that in working with the topography, there will be a berm to protect the leach field from storm water and the contour of the area will force storm water away.
Alison asked if there were any questions on the testimony so far and there were none.
Alison read through each of the criteria and Sharon read the responses as they were written on the application.
1) Granting the variance would not be contrary to the public interest because:
The existing leach field is in failure. If it is not replaced with an updated system, it could pollute the existing wetlands and groundwater. The new leach field is proposed further away from the wetlands than the failed leach field.
2) If the variance were granted, the spirit of the ordinance would be observed because:
The spirit of the ordinance is to protect ground water and surface water from effluent. The proposed replacement leach field is further away from the failed leach field and meets all NH DES criteria.
3) Granting the variance would do substantial justice because:
It is necessary to have a septic system that meets current standards for occupancy of the existing house.
Sharon added that the house is under agreement and the sale is dependent on the replacement of the septic system.
4) If the variance were granted, the values of the surrounding properties would not be diminished because:
There will be no difference to the surrounding properties. The existing failed system, if not fixed, could diminish surrounding property values. It needs to be fixed in a timely manner. There are no changes to the existing house - septic system only.
Sharon added that the existing tank has been approved for a three bedroom system. They have a waiver to keep the tank as long as it's in good condition.
5) Unnecessary Hardship
A. Owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area, denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship because:
i. No fair and substantial relationship exists between the general public purposes of the
Ordinance provision and the specific application of that provision to the property
This is an existing house with a failed septic system on steep slopes and small lot size. There is no other location for the proposed septic system. There is no portion of the lot 125 feet away from wetlands. The proposed leach field is designed at the furthest point possible.
ii. The proposed use is a reasonable one because:
A state approved septic system must be installed before the house can be transferred to new owner.
B. Explain how, if the criteria in subparagraph (A) are not established, an unnecessary hardship will be deemed to exist, if, and only if, owing to special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area, the property cannot be reasonably used in strict conformance with the ordinance, and a variance is therefore necessary to enable a reasonable use of it.
This is an existing house with steep slopes. There is storm water runoff directed onto this property on both sides and wetlands in the back. The proposed system has been designed in the furthest point possible from the wetlands conservation district and storm water runoff.
Alison asked the Board if they had any comments or questions relative to the testimony in the application. There were none and she opened the hearing to the public for comments or questions.
Numel Pulido asked when the work would be done, where on the property would they be entering to do the work and how long would it take. Sharon showed him on the plan were they would be bringing in the equipment. She said it was the only place they could get in. Mr. Pulido said he was concerned since he teaches art classes and gives workshops at his residence at 6 Forest Road. Sharon said the equipment would be kept where the area was level and it should take approximately 3 days to complete the installation. Sharon said it needed to be completed by the May 17th closing. Mr. Puildo said he was only concerned with work being done on Thursdays, which is one of the days he has classes.
Don Klug said he lives at 8 Main Street and he has no objection.
Dave Anderson asked if a lot of the bushes or trees will be removed. Sharon said they have to clear 10 feet around the area.
Kathy Anderson said she has no objection. She added that she had heard from someone from the Harris Center that the steam back there is really Norway Pond water draining out.
Numel asked if there were any environmental issues. Sharon said the plan has to be approved by the state once the town approves it. She said the plan is done by a state qualified designer and installer. Alison said the board must agree that all of the criteria for the variance have been met in order to approve the variance. Then the state reviews the application and makes their decision regarding whether or not to approve the design - so it is a mix of town and state approval.
Alison asked if there were any other comments or questions from the public. There being none, she closed the public portion of the hearing and the board began their review of the criteria.
1) Hunt said it was clear this would be an improvement over a failed system.
2) Hunt said the spirit of the ordinance was in the interest of public safety and health so it appeared that this criteria has been met.
3) Alison said the ordinance was written to protect the town and groundwater. A variance is allowed for challenged property to be considered in cases such as this one.
4) Alison said values of surrounding properties might be lowered if there were a failed septic system.
5) The consensus of the board was that the criteria were met. The new system can't meet the 125 foot setback requirement on any part of the lot. Sharon added that the state does the inspection and with the stricter criteria now in place, it would be an improvement over the previous system.
Alison asked the board if they had any other questions or comments relative to the testimony. She then asked if any alternative system had been considered such as a chemical type system that is sometimes used on lake properties. Sharon said this was the best system for a steep slope.
Alison asked, after reviewing the variance criteria, did the board feel comfortable voting on them individually or as a whole. Hunt made a motion to see if the board would vote on the five criteria with a single vote. Linda Renna seconded the motion and the vote was unanimous to vote on the five criteria with a single vote.
Hunt moved that the application for a Variance under Article 10.4 be granted given that the applicant has met all five of the conditions as shown by the application, plan and testimony provided. Dan Beers seconded the motion and the board voted unanimously in favor of granting the application.
Alison advised Sharon of the 30 day appeal period and closed the hearing.
The board moved on to unanimously approve the minutes of the March 28th and April 11th meetings. It was noted the next hearing for a variance under Article 10.4 would be held on May 9th. Hunt said he would be away for that meeting.
Alison said she had been contacted by Nahida Sherman, webmaster, regarding terms of ZBA members as they are printed in the town report. Nahida had researched terms from the minutes of the Select Board minutes and found that there should be some corrections made. Hunt suggested that Nahida confirm this with the Select Board for their input and approval". After discussion, it was also the consensus of the board to have the instructions and applications for variances, special exceptions and appeals from administrative decisions posted on the website. Linda Coughlan said she would scan the material to Nahida for posting.
Linda Renna mentioned that she thought it would be beneficial to have a joint meeting sometime with the Planning Board to review issues such as clarification of the size of signs allowed for a home based business, driveway permits on private roads, and the length of time residents may store motor homes on their property.
There being no further business, them meeting adjourned at 8:15 P.M.