The Town of Harrisville Zoning Board of Adjustment held a public meeting on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at the Town Offices located at 705 Chesham Road.
Members present: Hal Grant, Chairman; Charles Sorenson, Vice-Chairman; Jay Jacobs; Patrick Gagne; Rex Baker; Jeffrey Trudelle; Pegg Monahan, Alternate; Andrew Maneval, Alternate; Mary Ann Noyer, Alternate
Members absent: none
Members of the public: Jay and Stephanie Raynor, applicants; Erin Hammerstedt
The meeting opened at 7:00 pm.
Chairman Hal Grant stated that the voting members for the meeting were himself, Charles Sorenson, Rex Baker, Jay Jacobs, and Patrick Gagne. Jeff Trudelle was recused for the first agenda item and sat with the public.
Jason and Stephanie Raynor – 3 Main Street (Map 61-Lot 4) The property owners returned to the board, as required by the board’s August 1, 2018 decision on their design, to request three additional modifications to their plans. Mr. Grant asked the applicant to describe the proposed changes, using the drawings submitted with the application. Mr. Raynor explained that the original design includes a cricket or walkthrough between the main house and the second floor of the barn with a ceiling height of approximately 6’3”or 6-4”. To allow for additional head room on the walkthrough, which is only access from the house to the second floor of the barn, the applicant proposed an 8’-wide dormer, to increase the pitch of the roof. The dormer would be on the back of the house and would not be visible from the street front. It was explained that the only alternative to increase headroom would be to lower the second-story floor in the barn.
Next, Mr. Raynor explained the request to eliminate one window on the back of the house and add a window to the proposed shed dormer to add light to the connecting space between the house and barn.
Third, the Raynors applied for a transom alternative to the front door, to add a decorative trim. They included photos of the existing door along with two photos of ideas for modifications showing trim detail. The board and Ms. Hammerstedt considered the date of the house and dates of modifications, discussing what would be most appropriate.
At this point, the board discussed whether or not it could proceed with the application given that the noticing to the public and abutters was general in nature and did not describe specific details of the proposed modifications. The materiality of the proposed changes were considered as well as the fact that the complete plans were available at town offices for viewing by the public. It was ultimately agreed by the board and the public that the noticing was sufficient to proceed.
Erin Hammerstedt stated she was not concerned with the window and shed dormer in the rear of the house but asked the applicants to indicate which specific trim for the front door they would choose. Her concern was appropriateness, stating the simpler the style, the more suitable for the period of the house. In her opinion, Ms. Hammerstedt noted, it was important not to introduce new architectural elements out of character for that period, or to attempt to recreate history with changes. Subsequently, two photographs depicting simpler scale and proportion were accepted into the file, with the applicants agreeing they would choose one of the two designs.
With no further questions from the board or public, Charles Sorenson then moved to accept the proposed changes, including the shed dormer, the window in the rear on the shed dormer, moving the window at the back of the house as shown in the plans attached to the application, and the front door trim according to one of the two simple types depicted in the pictures that also will be placed in the file. Rex Baker seconded. The board voted 5-0 in favor.
Proposed revisions to zoning ordinances
Charles Sorenson and Andrew Maneval summarized for the board the amendments to the town zoning ordinance that will be proposed at Town Meeting on March 12. Mr. Sorenson explained that the proposed revisions aim to clarify language and requirements, simplify interpretation and remove perceived inconsistencies. The sections addressed include Article V, regarding non-conforming uses, lots and structures, as well as provisions addressing impervious cover and provisions related to home-based businesses and home occupations. Under the proposed revisions for home-based businesses, the ZBA would determine the number of non-residential employees allowable. The existing limit of 2 non-residential employees was perceived by the ordinance committee and planning board as artificial and, in certain cases, impractical, depending on the business. Another change in the home based business provision is the proposal that site plan review be conducted by the ZBA, not the Planning Board.
Mr. Maneval then explained the new Broadband / Cell Tower Article that will be proposed to replace the existing Telecommunications Article. The new article would allow, under certain circumstances, with specific requirements and with review by the Planning Board, the installation of telecommunications equipment and facilities by wireless carriers to improve telecommunications services in town. The proposed language follows years of work by the Broadband Cell Committee, an in-depth engineering study to identify the locations in town most conducive to providing improved service, conversations with representatives of wireless companies, officials from other towns in the region, and legislative and regulatory review at the regional, state and federal level. Mr. Maneval noted that the committee is keeping a close eye on the Town of Chesterfield which, at its upcoming Town Meeting, will vote on a bond to fund the laying of fiber optic cable by Consolidated Communications to every house in town. This is a first in the state. The Harrisville Broadband Cell Committee is considering such an idea, possibly with other area towns, that would entail specific proposals at future Town Meetings but not this year. There are other ideas being considered at the state and regional levels.
To the question about the likelihood or possibility of technology’s changing, Mr. Maneval noted that the current thinking is that fiber is the gold standard, that the infrastructure is critical to towns’ livelihoods and that it’s important for zoning ordinances to be flexible enough to address such technology advances.
As a final comment about the proposed zoning revisions, Mr. Sorenson explained that the new language related to impervious cover seeks to allow for the possibility of exceeding the 20% threshold for impervious cover if applicants demonstrate the use of infiltration techniques that manage and mitigate surface runoff to the extent that the 20% impervious cover threshold is still met.
Minutes of previous meeting 11/28/2018
The board voted to approve the minutes of its November 28thmeeting.
Meeting adjourned at 7:50 pm.