The Town of Harrisville Zoning Board of Adjustment held a public meeting on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at the Town Offices located at 705 Chesham Road.

Members present: Hal Grant, Chairman; Jay Jacobs; Patrick Gagne; Rex Baker; Jeffrey Trudelle; Pegg Monahan, Alternate; Andrew Maneval, Alternate; Mary Ann Noyer, Alternate

Members absent: Charles Sorenson, Vice-Chairman

Members of the public: Jay Raynor, applicant; Adam Drew, applicant; Erin Hammerstedt; Chick Colony; Don Scott; Anne Howe; Les LaMois; Doug Walker; Harry Wolhandler

The meeting opened at 6:18 pm.

The voting members for the first agenda item were Hal Grant, Rex Baker, Jay Jacobs, Pegg Monahan and Patrick Gagne. Jeff Trudelle was recused.

Jason and Stephanie Raynor – 3 Main Street (Map 61-Lot 4)Following submission of an application to the ZBA for exterior design changes to the property at 3 Main Street, Mr. Raynor appeared before the board to describe the proposal. He referred to architectural drawings displayed for the board and the public.

The first item presented related to the existing vestibule, which the Raynors, in their previously approved application, had intended to remove and replace with a longer deck but now requested to keep intact both for design and lifestyle reasons. The public had no questions on this item. The board then requested to hear all of the proposed changes before considering each item for vote.

Mr. Raynor next proposed lowering of the round window on the barn anywhere from 6-12 inches as, the way the plan exists, the living space would have no view to the front of the property. He confirmed that it would remain centered and in the barn’s peak, and lowered no more than 12”.

Next, Mr. Raynor proposed adding a window on the northeast side of the barn to match an existing window on the same façade which will remain. The proposed additional window, of the same dimensions and design as the existing, was not represented on the plan before the board.

The third item related to the previously approved design of a hip roof on the shed, which will be the deck. The Raynors would instead, for budgetary reasons, like to make a sloped roof. Mr. Raynor confirmed there also will be a 48” railing on the deck.

On the back of the house, where the approved design depicts an existing egress door window along with three additional windows, the Raynors propose instead to consolidate the windows into a sliding glass door of roughly the same height of 6 feet 8 inches. Mr. Raynor explained that a smaller egress window would remain above grade.

Finally, at the back of the garage, the Raynors propose a man door instead of a window for egress out onto grade. The door would contain a window of the existing dimensions.

Erin Hammerstedt, Executive Director of Historic Harrisville, voiced two concerns.  She noted Historic Harrisville’s objection to the ZBA’s review of the design changes. Understanding the ZBA’s authority to act on behalf of the Historic District Commission on the appeal, Historic Harrisville does not believe that authority extends indefinitely and believes all future applications should revert to the HDC, the entity they feel is designated by the town to consider such matters and most qualified to review the project. Given that the review of the design changes is under the historic district ordinance, which sets forth certain standards and considers character defining features of properties.  Ms. Hammerstedt added that the standards are intended to preserve the character defining features while allowing for changes to secondary elements. She is most concerned about the moving of the round window, which was defined as a character defining feature of the barn, and she doesn’t believe that should be changed.

As there were no other comments or questions from the public, Mr. Grant closed the public hearing portion of the meeting.

Considering the question of ZBA jurisdiction over design changes, Rex Baker noted that in its August 1 decision and approval of the application, the ZBA included the condition that any design changes needed to be brought before the ZBA. On the question of which regulations apply and on the materiality of the proposed changes, Mr. Maneval stated he believed the ZBA, unless it was ruled otherwise, would always be bound by historic district regulations and that they would always be pertinent in this matter.

The board first considered the matter of the round window on the barn. Members were divided as to whether they believed it should stay in its current location. In considering the other proposed changes, members did not consider them significant enough in impact to disapprove of them and noted that certain details of the original building would remain rather than be altered as originally planned. The board subsequently indicated its preference, and Rex Baker moved, to vote on the matter of the window, and separately to vote on all other proposed design changes as one vote.  Jay Jacobs seconded. The vote was 5-0 in favor.

Mr. Maneval requested that the minutes reflect that, while standard by standard review using the HDC Guidelines for Property Owners would be discussed for the question of the barn’s round window, the ten standards were being considered for the vote on all proposed changes.

Mr. Grant began to read aloud the ten standards outlined in the HDC Guidelines as follows. Once again, the board noted it would vote first on five of the six proposed changes other than the change to the barn window, and would vote on that item second as it involved a difference of opinion:

#1: Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for a property which requires minimal alteration of the building, structure or site and its environment, or to use a property for its originally intended purpose. The board unanimously agreed the applicant satisfied this.

#2: The distinguishing original qualities or character of a building, structure, or site and its environment shall not be destroyed. The removal or alteration of any historic material or distinctive architectural features should be avoided when possible. The board unanimously agreed that five of the six proposed changes satisfied this guideline.

#3: All buildings, structures, and sites shall be recognized as products of their own time. Alterations that have no historical basis and which seek to create an earlier appearance shall be discouraged. The board agreed these criteria were met.

#4: Changes which may have taken place in the course of time are evidence of the history and development of a building, structure, or site and its environment. These changes may have acquired significance in their own right, and this significance shall be recognized and respected. The board had no issue with the proposed changes as related to this guideline.

#5: Distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship which characterize a building, structure, or site shall be treated with sensitivity. The board agreed the applicant’s proposal satisfied this and a majority of elements were being retained.

#6: Deteriorated architectural features shall be repaired rather than replaced, wherever possible. In the event replacement is necessary, the new material should match the material being replaced in composition, design, color, texture, and other visual qualities. Repairs or replacement of missing architectural features should be based on accurate duplications of features, substantiated by historic, physical, or pictorial evidence, rather than on conjectural designs or the availability of different architectural elements from other buildings or structures.Board members agreed the criteria were satisfied.

#7: The surface cleaning of structures shall be undertaken with the gentlest means possible. Sandblasting and other cleaning methods that will damage the historic building materials shall not be undertaken. The board felt this guideline was not applicable to the proposal being considered.

#8:  Every reasonable effort shall be made to protect and preserve archeological resources affected by, or adjacent to any project.The board agreed this was being done.

#9: Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material, and such design is compatible with the size, scale, color, material, and character of the property, neighborhood or environment. The board had no issue related to this guideline.

#10: Wherever possible, new additions or alterations to structures shall be done in such a manner that if such additions or alterations were to be removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the structure would be unimpaired. The board agreed.

Rex Baker subsequently moved to approve the five of the six proposed design changes, with the exception of the window. Jay Jacobs seconded. All voted in favor.

The board then took up the matter of the round window on the barn. Rex Baker stated his concern was that it was never meant to be a window out but, instead, one to allow light in. The applicant confirmed that the glass itself is not original to the barn and there was question as to whether the window itself was original. Ms Hammerstedt noted that the description in the historic designation cites the window as a distinguishing feature and that it at least dates to the time of that application which was the early 1970s. It was not immediately known what the historic photos showed.  Ms. Hammerstedt added that any elements that are not original on the barn are copies of the original materials attempting to retain the historic character, if not integrity. She reiterated that the round window was one of the few remaining character defining features that remained from that period. There were no further comments, other than continued differences of opinion expressed by individual board members.

Jay Jacobs then moved to accept the lowering of the round window a maximum of 12 inches. The group discussed procedural protocol as Rex Baker had raised the question of whether the board wanted to postpone a decision until additional information or verification of the window’s origin could be ascertained. The board proceeded to consider a vote. Subsequently, Pegg Monahan seconded Jay Jacobs’s motion. The vote was 3-2 in favor, with Mr. Grant, Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Gagne voting in favor, and Mr. Baker and Ms. Monahan opposed for reasons of preserving the distinguishing architectural feature in its originally intended purpose. The applicant was thereby granted approval for the proposed design changes. Mr. Raynor confirmed that the Building Inspector would have a copy of the final plans.

Mr. Trudelle returned as a voting member. For the following matter, it was subsequently confirmed that the voting members were Rex Baker, Jay Jacobs, Jeff Trudelle, Pat Gagne and Pegg Monahan, with Hal Grant recusing himself:

Adam Drew – Chesham Road (Map 40-Lot-55)Don Scott presented Adam Drew’s application for a Special Exception, under Article V Section 3.3, to expand a nonconforming structure on a nonconforming lot. He explained that the structure is nonconforming in that it sits just forward of the 50-foot setback from the lake. By taking the shed out of the 15 foot side setback, Mr. Scott noted, the proposed structure would be more conforming.

Mr. Scott showed site plans for both the existing and proposed conditions, including the footprints. He explained that the existing detached shed on the property would be removed, as well as a partial shed on the back of the house, and the applicant proposes to expand the rear of the house, which faces Chesham Road, to add a garage, but on the same footprint and away from the pond.  Mr. Scott described the layout of the property, the relationship to abutters, location of the new septic and well, as well as the proposed wraparound shared gravel driveway. Fifteen foot setbacks would exist on two sides. An existing patio will be restored. The bulkhead on the front of the building will be removed. The applicant has filed separately with DES for a Shoreland Permit as this property is in the Lakeside District. It was later noted that the driveway exists above the old railroad bed.

Referring to impervious cover, Mr. Scott noted the percentage would be reduced by 118 square feet, from 19.7% to 18.3%. The total impact area would be 4,700 square feet. He added that a landing would be added to new stairs, but that these would be in roughly the same location as the existing stairs.  Doug Walker, speaking for his mother Angela Busker who is the abutter, raised the question of drainage issues, which already exist. Discussion ensued as to the existing leach field and new proposed septic area. Mr. Walker described the impact of groundwater coming down off Chesham Road onto the driveway area.  He noted he was fine with everything else proposed and welcomed the improvements.

Mr. Scott and Mr. Drew responded that a shallow, swale pathway would help manage runoff. The group discussed mitigation ideas that could assist both properties, including a French drain with crushed stone and fabric. Mr. Scott added there also would be infiltration trenches on both sides of the house.  The board agreed that a French drain was a viable solution.

Don Scott further noted that silt fencing would be installed along the front of house around the disturbance area.  A new foundation will be constructed. It was confirmed, and agreed to by the applicant, that a condition of any approval would include the requirement of a new French drain along the property line.

Harry Wolhandler then spoke on behalf of the Conservation Commission to say that Mr. Scott and Mr. Drew had appeared before the HCC. The HCC believed no negative impact would result from the proposal and that all conservation matters were addressed to the board’s satisfaction. The HCC unanimously supported the proposal.

The board then heard Mr. Scott’s case for how he believed the proposal meets the five conditions for a Special Exception as outlined in Article XX of the zoning ordinance:

20.1.2.1 The specific site is an appropriate location for such a use.Mr. Scott noted the use of the property, as a lakefront cottage, was not changing. The board unanimously agreed.

20.1.2.2 The use as developed will not adversely affect the adjacent area.  Mr. Scott noted the removal of the old shed will be an improvement and that the proposed alterations are not substantially different from the existing structure and site conditions. Rex Baker raised the issue of the French drain as an agreed upon requirement for stormwater management. for approval Following discussion of the agreed upon condition of approval, Rex Baker moved to require that a mutually acceptable French drain be installed as a condition of approval for the applicant. Pat Gagne seconded. All voted in favor.

20.1.2.3 There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians. Mr. Scott stated that the new driveway will be more defined and the new garage will have a new turn-out parking space for exiting the site. The board unanimously agreed.

20.1.2.4 Adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use. Mr. Scott noted the structures would be consolidated and that a new septic and well are proposed.  The board had no concerns on this.

20.1.2.5 The proposed use shall comply with all the frontage, setbacks, minimum land area, sanitary protection, signs and parking requirements for itself or its most similar use, except where specifically waived by the board, the reasons for such waiver to be set forth in writing by the board.  Mr. Scott stated that all site requirements will be met, including the 3’ encroachment on the 15’ setback which now also has been met. Mr. Scott added that impervious cover will be reduced to 18.3% from 19.4% and that a silt fence to the lake will protect the disturbance area. All agreed that the applicant satisfied the condition.

Subsequently, the Board unanimously approved the application presented by Mr. Drew.

As a final matter the board approved the minutes of the previous meeting, October 24, 2018.

Meeting adjourned at 7:25 pm.