ANTRIM PLANNING BOARD
February 15, 2018
Members & Staff Present:
Chris Condon (Chair), Bob Holmes, Bob Edwards (Ex-Officio), Steve MacDonald, Janet McEwen, and Kristin Bixby (Assistant to Land Use Boards).
Members Absent: Jeanne Cahoon (Vice Chair), Lynne Rosansky
Others Present: None
CTO: Chair Condon called the meeting to order at 7:02 P.M. and introduced the Board and staff.
- Minutes from February 1, 2018.
Motion: Ms. McEwen moved the motion/seconded by Mr. MacDonald for approval of the minutes.
Discussion: There was a small typo on the second page, and Ms. McEwen noticed that something was labeled as being her comment when it was really Ms. Rosansky’s comment. Both suggestions were revised promptly.
Vote: By a voice vote, the February 1 minutes were approved as revised.
II. Elm Avenue Pit DES Permit Update – Zeke and Macks Realty
Chair Condon started the conversation by reading the staff report sent out by Carol Ogilvie, Consultant Planner, to the Board. This staff report is displayed as Addendum I at the end of these minutes.
Mr. Edwards noted that the report had mentioned these applicants are in the process of applying to an AOT permit and suggested that once this permit application has come to fruition, that may be the point in which the Board would want to reach out to them and do a site visit or a public hearing. But at this time, it does not seem necessary to have them perform any additional steps. The amount of sand and gravel being moved around does not seem excessive, especially given the years it took to get to the amount listed in the report.
Mr. Edwards mentioned his curiosity regarding the status on the bond on reclamation. Initially, the Board had been interested in so many inches of topsoil in reclamation. His concern was that the bond, which he believed to be a bond through an insurance company, has expired and nobody knows it. This may be the time to look into this more thoroughly.
The Board had a brief discussion regarding how the Town rules have recently changed to match the State’s in regards to excavation permits. Applicants now get to follow the same six year schedule. It was suggested that the Assistant to Land Use Boards should find or produce an updated calendar or chart of where all active sand pits in Antrim are in their 6 year renewal process.
Ms. McEwen asked if there should be an education period once new Planning Board members are elected. She thinks that as a Board, it would help to be more knowledgeable with the process. The applicants know all of the bylaws that apply to their businesses, so it would be nice to have the Board get a refresher on those bylaws. Mr. Edwards agrees that Mary Pinkham should come back in to talk to the Board after Town Meeting.
III. Shook, et. Al Lot Line Adjustment & Annexation - Ex-Officio Review
Mr. Edwards, Ex-Officio, gave an update on further findings that he had researched regarding this case, as well as other plausible issues that he foresees based on the issues mentioned in this case. He added that he has had a conversation with Town Counsel Bart Mayer, of Upton and Hatfield, LLP. Overall, Bart’s opinion was that the Planning Board is not liable if the property
owners were to come back and fight this. The Planning Board did what they were asked to do and did not violate anything that he is aware of. His full letter to the Planning Board outlining what was discussed is displayed as Addendum II at the end of these minutes.
In regards to the section of Mr. Edward’s letter that lists his general comments, the Board added a few comments in response. Ms. McEwen added that the fact that this plan was submitted as a lot merger, as opposed to a subdivision, was part of the problem. In a review of a subdivision, the deeds would have been required. Mr. Holmes added that the Post Office considers any person at the address in which certified mail is sent, who is above 18 years old, who signs, can represent for the entire household receiving a notice. Ms. McEwen asked for a clarification regarding the location of the septic on the property. She seemed to think that if the plan had land over 5 acres, the applicant doesn’t have to have a septic plan. [The discussion around septic stems directly from a question Mr. Edwards posed in his letter to the Board. Mrs. McEwen is
explaining why the checklist has an “N/A” instead of a check mark next to the item noting the provision of a septic plan].
Mr. Edwards said that according to Bart Mayer, if there is no deed or exchange of ownership, the best thing to do is rescind the decision. Ms. McEwen interjected that Antrim’s consultant planner saw that it would be a problem to rescind it, since that one decision also allotted an annexation and now those parcels are owned by different people. The question comes to whether the property needs to be unmerged or if they have to go through the application process for a new subdivision. Ms. McEwen went on to say that she doesn’t think they ever did a subdivision for the smaller lot with the barn. It all just got thrown in under the umbrella of a “lot line adjustment.”
Chair Condon said that the owners have to come before the Board with a subdivision plan. He wants to have the Planning Board send out official notice to the applicants of that decision, since a new plat will need to be created.
Motion: Ms. McEwen made a motion to provide notification to the Shook’s regarding the properties located on Smith Road (Map 232, Los 5 and 6) in that: after seeking the advice of Town Counsel, the Board has made the decision that the most logical way to approach this situation is that you will need to go through the subdivision process.
After some discussion, the following amendments were suggested by Mr. Holmes and Mr. Edwards respectably: The Planning Board recommends that they contact their surveyor to explain the situation and that they will need to review the checklist with the Assistant to Land Use Boards and their surveyor and put it in to submission. If they have any questions regarding our position on this, please feel free to get in touch with the Antrim Planning Board.
Motion: Chair Condon moved to accept the decision to write a letter to the Shook’s and heirs as amended/McEwen seconded.
Roll Call Vote: Holmes – aye. Edwards – aye. MacDonald – aye. McEwen – aye.
IV. DBEA Presentation – Dates for next appearance
Chair Condon opened the conversation by saying that with Town Meeting around the corner, the Board may want to look at a future date to book another presentation with DBEA representatives regarding the future economic vitality of Antrim. This time, the Board would like to invite members of the Select Board, the Town Administrator, anyone involved with “Antrim 2020” (in particular, the three groups that worked specifically with economic development and incubator groups), and Antrim business owners. There should be official invites in addition to the general postings. Mr. Edwards thought that some of the Main Street owners would be especially invested in this conversation.
Ms. McEwen asked the Board if they would want to include Bennington Town and business representatives to join this conversation. The Board decided that the presentation is too specific to the improvement of Antrim’s economic development, and it may not be the best fit to include other Towns at this time. Ms. McEwen suggested that once the new Board members are elected, the Planning Board should drive around together and see where new businesses are most likely to go.
Kristin was asked to contact the presenters from the DBEA regarding May 18th, the target date for the new meeting, and onward on what their actual availability is. Once a date is confirmed, letters should be sent out to various Town Boards as well as the Antrim business community. Based on the turnout of responses, the Board should try to reserve
Ms. McEwen suggested putting together a business fair to coincide with the event. Chair Condon indicated that the Board may be getting a little too ambitious.
Ms. McEwen suggested that “save the date” postcards should be mailed out to draw publicity for the event. If people just receive an email, they may ignore it or forget be the time the event comes along. Mr. Edwards suggested that a Town email blast still should be sent out, and it should be sent out through other departments and community groups. Kristin, with assistance of the Board, can put together a business list of Town businesses. The Board looked at an old business directory and were surprised to see how many businesses aren’t here anymore.
V. Proposal for Additional Planning Board Meeting in March 2018
Ms. McEwen suggested that an added date could serve as a time to talk about the public survey that was started at the end of 2017. The Board came to an agreement that an entire meeting for this may be unnecessary, and the Board can discuss this after the Public Hearing on March 1st. Kristin was tasked with looking at the questionnaire that had begun to be drafted by her predecessor, polishing it up, and having the Board review it on March 1st. The survey should go around to residents at Town Meeting in order to get more respondents.
The Board decided an additional meeting in March would be unnecessary.
VI. Correspondence – Southwest Region Planning Commission
No further comment on general correspondence updates from SWRPC. Board members confirmed that they had all read the letter and appreciate the update on regional planning initiatives.
VII. Additional Business:
The Board wanted to make a more consorted effort to bring more Board alternates on. The DBEA meeting on economic development is an opportunity to get more names of people who may want to be alternates. In terms of planning for that meeting, Ms. McEwen suggested that the Board could start a half hour early so people can walk over directly after community supper. These are typically held on the third Thursday in each month, which corresponds perfectly to the suggested date of May 18th, as long as the DBEA representatives can make that date.
Motion: Ms. McEwen made a motion to adjourn/seconded by Mr. MacDonald
There was no discussion.
Vote: By a voice vote, all Board members agreed.
Meeting adjourned: 8:05 PM
TO: Antrim Planning Board
DATE: February 12, 2018
RE: Zeke & Mack Excavation Update
Zeke & Mack’s Realty, operated by Kris and Lisa Stewart (Francestown Sand and Gravel), have an ongoing excavation site on Elm Avenue. The original Alternation of Terrain (AOT) permit was issued by the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) on December 18, 2006. Since that time, the Planning Board has issued an Excavation Permit in June of 2013, and conducted a review of the status of that permit in August of 2015. The decision of that review stated that the Board would conduct the next review in August of 2017. However, that review was postponed, given that the Stewarts were in the process of renewing their AOT permit from DES, which was submitted on December 5, 2017.
The question before the Board today is whether the DES renewal application of the AOT triggers a public hearing with a new application to the Board. The Town’s Excavation Regulations give the Planning Board the ability to decide on a course of action based on the intervening activity. In Mr. Scott’s submission letter, he points out that the active pit comprises two (2) acres and since 2012, less than 7,000 yards of material have the site. Furthermore, the compliance review completed by the Board in 2015 relied on the Excavation Reports and Notices of Intent to Excavate to conclude that a public hearing was not called for at that time. Based on the information provided to DES by Don Scott, I would suggest that a public hearing is also not warranted at this time. In April the Board will have the opportunity to review the
most recent Excavation Reports and Intents to Excavate and determine at that time whether a public hearing on the operation is warranted.
To: Chris Condon, Chair; Antrim Planning Board
From: Bob Edwards, Ex-Officio Member
Re: Annexation and Lot Merger-Donald and Priscilla Shook, Et Al
Date: February 9, 2018
I have completed my review of the Shook Planning File provided to me by Kristin Bixby and I’ve reported my findings below. These are simply my general comments and items for future discussion. I have identified the two concerns identified by the Board and have discussed this matter with Town Counsel Bart Mayer.
It seems that the Board waived or considered the question of whether deed restrictions or covenants existed based on input from the Applicant(s) or their agent without any research of the title or a review of existing deeds. Was a deed presentation required?
The Board appeared to have decided that a wetland delineation was not necessary on the small lot based solely on Dennis McKinney’s verbal assurance that there was sufficient uplands to construct a building. Would it be required in the future for a building permit?
No written authority from property owners authorizing Mr. McKinney to represent them in this matter. Dennis signed as Agent. Written authority was limited to permitting access to the property for purposes relative to verifying matters relating to the Application and Donald’s signature was missing from the authority. Signatures were not witnessed or notarized. Do they need to be?
Certified mailings to abutters didn’t require the signature of both property owner’s where they held ownership jointly, only the spouse signed. Is it considered service to both parties?
Septic location area was marked “NA” on the checklist but listed as a requirement on the Mylar.
Statement on the Mylar that the survey closes within certain footage parameters which was done except different from what the checklist standard requires in a rural district. Were there changes made to the requirement?
Were the boundary marker settings ever verified –surveyor said they were set?
Checklist states before final approval is issued, Counsel will review including any deed restrictions. Doesn’t appear Counsel completed a review-yet no deeds or deed research appear to be part of file. Should he have? Do we care?
Question of Law:
Should the Planning Board accept an application and provide an approval on a request when the ownership of the parcels being merger or annexed from and to share different ownership? No legal violation as the Board approved the Plan as requested. Nothing in the minutes that I saw that explained the purpose. Sale pending?
How much may the Board rely on representations made by an applicant or their agent without performing independent verification especially when a post-approval conflict or error becomes apparent or some matter allows the approval to be revoked or challenged. Is the Board likely to be liable in the event the applicant or other related party is damaged? I’m sure they must prove they’ve been damaged.
Such as: Failure to give notice to a party of a proposed land use application-no opportunity to be heard?
Wetland makes the lot unbuildable, etc.
Conversation with Bart:
Bart feels that the Board should have a letter signed by all owners that clearly states that an agent has been authorize to represent them in the matter before us.
How much may we rely on representations made by the owner or agent without Planning Board direct verification? We may reply on their representation(s) but may verify or challenge their statement(s) if we feel it’s appropriate.
Did the Planning Board do anything wrong in the subject annexation process: No. The question of the annexation/lot line merger having two different owners, didn’t seem to be an issue with Bart as long as we have all owners’ written permission to do so.
How could we cure this issue? If the parties haven’t recorded a deed yet (transfer of ownership, then the parties could complete an application of revocation and come before the Board and explain their request. If they have convey ownership, it will require a minor a sub-division application with all town requirement being followed. The costs of which should not be the responsibility of the Antrim Planning Board.
He also stated that private covenants are not planning board responsibilities and we don’t care. ½ ton pickup-clothes lines scenarios.
For discussion at our next meeting and a course of action the Board feel appropriate to resolve this issue.
Bob Edwards, Ex-Officio Member