The Harrisville Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at the town office building located on Chesham Road.
Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm.
Members present: Ryan Stone Co-Chair, Noel Greiner, Courtney Cox, Peter Thayer, Don Scott Alternate, Kathy Scott Selectboard Alternate
Members absent: Lisa Anderson Co-Chair,Ned Hulbert
Members of the public and town officials: Wendy Pelletier, John Hoogstrate, Winston Sims
Attendance and voting members
Ryan Stone stated that the voting members present were himself, Noel Greiner, Courtney Cox, Pete Thayer and Don Scott.
Approval of agenda
Noel Greiner moved to approve the agenda as written. All voted in favor.
Minutes of previous meeting 2/13
Noel Greiner moved to approve the minutes as written. All voted in favor.
Lot-line adjustment – John and Carol Hoogstrate, 89 and 93 Nelson Road, Map 60 – Lots 18 and 19
Ryan Stone confirmed that, following initial review of the application by Ryan Stone and Don Scott, the applicant submitted the needed additional information and the board was ready to hear it. The applicant then explained to the board that he seeks to adjust the boundary line between the two lots he owns on the west side of Nelson Road to create a buffer between the lot closer to the road, to which he and his wife plan to move, and the upper lot, where they now live but which they plan to sell. Mr. Hoogstrate described the lots using the site plan on the projection screen. With the adjustment, the existing lot 18 would change from the current 7.3 acres to approximately 20 acres and the size of lot 19 would change from 18.4 acres to approximately 5. The application states that no additional construction is planned at this time. The group discussed the location of the septic on lot 18, confirming that, though close to the boundary, it meets the setback. Also mentioned was the utility right of way running through both lots. The applicant noted the attorney would handle this in the paperwork on any property transfer.
With no additional comments or questions from the board. Noel Greiner then moved to accept the application as complete. Courtney Cox seconded. All voted in favor. Following this, Noel Greiner moved to approve the application as submitted. Pete Thayer seconded. All voted in favor.
The group discussed that the all proposed ordinance amendments passed by a wide margin at Town Meeting. They subsequently discussed how the amendments would be incorporated into the existing document and how land use board members and prospective applicants and the public would have access to the changes. All agreed it made sense to reprint the ordinance booklets for 2020 and, in the meantime, insert hard copies of the approved amendments into the books now available at Town Offices and ensure all land use boards and committee members and the Select Board have copies. The amendments also will be posted on the website where the Zoning Ordinance is posted.
Ryan Stone commented that the goal in the coming months is to tackle the sections that board members feel are most in need of updating. He reminded members to re-read the document and to bring their suggestions to the April meeting, when the whole board will prioritize the sections to be worked on.
Planning Board Annual Review Process
Mr. Stone explained how the process has evolved in previous years, and that the goal is for the board to make improvements to process and/or functionality where members feel it is needed. Discussions in past years were held in public, non-regular meeting work sessions. The idea was raised about incorporating the process into a regular meeting on a night when the agenda was light. The board will continue the conversation in April.
Winston Sims then addressed the board about his written inquiry immediately prior to Town Meeting. He had written to the co-chairs and Mr. Hulbert, concerned that the zoning ballot, approved by the PB, contained language misleading to voters, in his opinion, on proposed zoning amendment #4, related to impervious cover. Mr. Sims did not believe the synopsis, or purpose, as described on the ballot accurately reflected the proposed language in the actual ordinance amendment. Mr. Sims believed the proposed ordinance effectively removes the maximum 20% ceiling for impervious cover, without imposing a new ceiling. He is deeply concerned about this and feels it is the focal point of the amendment, though the ballot only contained wording encouraging the use of water infiltration techniques.
Mr. Stone explained that the recipients of his inquiry weren’t exactly clear on Mr. Sims’s request and had consulted with the town attorney on the matter. Given the last minute timing of Mr. Sims’s letter, board members’ schedules, and the occasion of Town Meeting, Mr. Stone hadn’t had a chance to respond to Mr. Sims, but offered to summarize the attorney’s comments. The attorney’s interpretation was that the purpose of the narrative on the ballot is to offer a summary of the change but implies that voters need to read the complete ordinance amendments to ascertain the actual language of what is being proposed. Mr. Sims replied that this was the only ballot question for which the description, he thought, significantly varied from the amendment itself and he thought this was deceptive.
Don Scott explained the revision process undertaken by the Ordinance Review Committee and the discussions held at the December 12 public hearing when the 20% threshold was discussed at length. After much debate in the committee but no final resolution on the language following the public hearing and at the January PB meeting, the committee in the end proposed on the ballot what was presented to the public at the December 12 hearing. There was agreement, however, that the goal was to maintain the 20% limit while encouraging water infiltration methods for storm water management.
Mr. Sims stated he didn’t feel the views of the Conservation Commission were ever sought but board members disagreed, noting that the discussion was presented at the ConCom sometime in the fall before the Community Conversation on the zoning amendments occurred. Mr. Greiner suggested that, if the ConCom is unhappy with the ordinances passed by the town, it should propose a revision for next year. To Mr. Sim’s frustration with the process, members believed that lay within the ConCom and was not a Planning Board matter. The point also was raised that there were several public hearings at which the Con Com was welcome to voice its concerns, and where it did. The PB emphasized that it was a very open process all along. Kathy Scott added that a ConCom member sat on the ordinance revision committee and was part of the process and continually updated the ConCom on developments; she also disagreed that it was the ConCom’s job to officially vote on proposed ordinance amendments and that, instead, it was the Planning Board’s position to decide. She reaffirmed the previous comments of PB members that the both the Ordinance Review Committee and the PB had a very open and public process, presenting to the public numerous opportunities to comment and provide feedback.
Ryan Stone expressed his hope that harmony and positive communication between the boards and committees continue and sought any suggestions from members to ensure this moving forward. Mr. Sims thanked Mr. Stone for this, stating he didn’t believe the Con Com understood that it wouldn’t be consulted on a topic that related to steep slopes, wetlands, shorelands, etc.
Local Officials Workshop on April 16 in Peterborough and Right to Know Workshop in Derry on March 26. Mr. Stone encouraged members to check the NHMA website for other information. Also noted was the March 20 hearing in Peterborough on MacDowell Dam.
Discussion will take place in April, though Mr. Stone asked Mr. Greiner for assistance as liaison with the Select Board. Mr. Greiner agreed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:14 pm.