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Zoning Board of Adjustment Minutes 06/27/06

June 27, 2006 meeting

Members & Staff Present:

        Bradley Houseworth              John Kendall                    Len Pagano                      Frank Scales                    Paul Vasques                    Don Winchester                  
Member Absent

        Doug Crafts                     Carol Court                     Tim Quachenbush         Paul Young                              

Public Attendees:

        Pam Caswell                     Wayne DeKoning          Jen Francis
        Kevin Francis                   Deb Phaneuf-Mercier             Bill Prokop                     Ed Rowehl                       Jim Tyler                       Rose Tyler      

Chairman Winchester convened the meeting at 7:30 PM.  Mr. Winchester explained to the public attendees the process of the public hearing.  Members reviewed documentation submitted by the secretary prior to the start of the meeting.

Tyler, James File # 2006-07ZBA: At 7:30 PM, Mr. Winchester introduced members of the Board and staff and opened the public hearing on the appeal of Jim Tyler for a variance to Article IV Section B.1 Permitted Uses.  The applicant proposes to rent U-Haul trucks and trailers, which is not a permitted use in this district, on property located at 20 Concord St., Antrim, NH 03440 Tax map 1C, Lot 166 in the Village Business District.  Mr. Tyler explained that he wishes to provide a U-Haul rental service to the town.  He explained that most people seemed to be okay and support the idea and that he had not come across many individuals that were opposed to this proposed service.  He stated that he realizes he should have come before this board before starting the service but didn’t even think to or think it was a big issue.  Mr. Winchester asked him if he was already renting U-haul trucks and trailers; the answer was yes.  Mr. Tyler provided a petition to the board that he had set up and placed on his place of business for patrons to sign if they so desired.  He also said there was going to be no change in his current business hours.  Mr. Winchester asked what they were, Mr. Tyler said 8 – 5:30 Monday through Friday and 8 – 1 on Saturdays.  The petition as presented to the board at this time consisted of 79 signatures from patrons of Tyler’s Small Engine and read as follows: “My signature on this petition shows that I am in agreement that by having U-Haul on their property Tyler’s Small Engine is providing a service to this community.”  

At this time, Mr. DeKoning introduced himself and claimed he was in favor of the proposed service and said it is something this community needs.  Mr. Winchester asked Mr. Tyler how long he has owned this property, Mr. Tyler replied for quite awhile and stated that many people have asked him to provide this type of service to the community.  Mr. Winchester also asked how long he has owned the other adjacent property, Tyler responded about three years.  Mr. Prokop then interjected that as the Town Administrator in Town Hall, he has received many phone calls from residents of Antrim asking why the boards are hassling people whom are providing business and important services in the downtown area of Antrim.  Mr. Winchester replied that the board is here to provide fair treatment to all applicants and abutters involved and not to favor the public majority’s opinion.  Ms. Caswell introduced herself, stated she lives on Elm Street, and is upset as an abutter that she hadn’t heard of this petition by Tyler until tonight’s meeting.  She claimed she isn’t opposed to the proposed service, she wants to support the town and local businesses, but these proprietors need to also be good neighbors.  She stated that now her property is exposed by Route 202 because of the clearing Mr. Tyler did on his lot.  She is also concerned with her view and the unpleasant sight of U-Haul trucks all day and asked where the U-Haul trucks are going to be parked.  Tyler explained that the U-Haul trucks are going to be parked approximately where they are now, on the opposite side of his property from hers, and that he is lucky to rent a couple of these trucks on the weekend.  Mr. Pagano asked Tyler if the property in question is three acres, Tyler responded yes.  Mr. Pagano expressed concern about the possibility of the property being paved and that potentially a lot of vehicles could be parked on the property and suggested that if this variance is granted by the board that perhaps some restrictions should be put in place limiting the number of vehicles allowed.  Mr. Vasques then explained that even if the zoning board of adjustment granted this variance tonight that Mr. Tyler would then have to come before the planning board for a site plan review regarding a change of use and that at that time the planning board could place conditional restrictions on the approval regarding this proposed rental of trucks ad trailers.

At this point in time Mr. Rowehl stood up and stated that the zoning ordinances were rewritten completely in 1989.  Mr. Rowehl explained that the rental of trucks and trailers used to be a permitted use in this district however the Planning Board realized that there were many issues surrounding these types of operations in the Village Business District.  In 1993, the Planning Board spent a lot of time reviewing the permitted uses allowed in this district and decided that some of them were contrary to the aims and objectives of the master plan.  Furthermore, Mr. Rowehl explained that the stacks of cars, rental vehicles, and advertising on the buildings in the downtown area were contrary to the goal of preserving a small, colonial, rural town in New England.  The Planning Board intentionally removed this type of permitted use from the Village Business District.  Mr. Rowehl concluded by stating that this proposal by Mr. Tyler is contrary to the aims of the Master Plan and the wishes of the people of the town of Antrim.  Mr. DeKoning then stated that it is a hardship to the town if this type of service is not allowed, that business will just go to another town if this isn’t allowed, and that we are not talking about cars lined up on the street in the downtown area.  Ms. Caswell asked if the petition had any abutters listed on it, Mr. Tyler replied that the signatures are all by patrons of the business.  Mr. Francis, another abutter, explained that he was also not opposed to this service being provided by Mr. Tyler but his concerns are the visual and physical separation between his abutting property and Mr. Tyler’s property.  He claimed that he has already lost the barrier because of the trees that Mr. Tyler had removed.  Ms. Francis commented that she plans on doing more landscaping to create a barrier and provide more privacy but is also concerned with her property values being affected by Mr. Tyler’s activities on his property.  She asked that if Mr. Tyler were to sell his property in five years, would this variance carry over to the new property owner.  Ms. Phaneuf-Mercier then introduced herself as another abutter that lives on Elm Street and claimed that she is not opposed to this business but was devastated to find the trees cleared on Mr. Tyler’s lot when she got back from wintering in Florida.  She stated she can now see the T-Bird gas station from her house and that she has spent thousands of dollars to fix up her house and is concerned about how Mr. Tyler’s property looks and affects the property value of her lot.  She added that the noise has increased ten-fold, she wants some sort of buffer or fence between her and Tyler’s property, and was concerned with safety issues regarding people seeing into her house.  Mr. Vasques explained that the establishment of a buffer or fence is an issue that this board doesn’t deal with but is something the Planning Board could address or deal with during a site plan review.  

Mr. Kendall then stated that he felt the discussion was getting a bit sidetracked and that the board is here tonight only to judge whether this variance should be granted based on the five criteria/conditions for granting a variance.  Furthermore, he explained that the real issue is what Mr. Rowehl already brought up concerning the intent of the zoning ordinance.  Mr. Vasques then read aloud the five criteria for granting a variance.  Mr. Kendall stated that if this variance gets approved, these concerns need to be brought in front of the planning board.  Mr. Francis stated that he wanted to make sure the board understood his concern about property values dropping due to these proposed activities.  Ms. Caswell stated she knew that Mr. Tyler’s small business was next door when she bought her property and that she has already put up a fence as a personal barrier around her property to accommodate this type of business.  Mr. Scales asked Mr. Tyler what his thoughts were in terms of how much business he is considering in regards to the rental of U-Haul trucks and trailers.  Mr. Tyler explained that it isn’t going to be that much and didn’t realize it was going to be such a big deal.  Mr. DeKoning stated isn’t this why the board is here, to adjust zoning ordinances and regulations.  Mr. Vasques explained that he had had talks with Mr. Rowehl and some of the other old timers in town and the main concern were car dealerships being established in the Village Business District.  Chairman Winchester then motioned to close the public hearing, Mr. Scales seconded the motion which passed.

Chairman Winchester asked Mr. Vasques if any inquiries, comments, or complaints had been sent in by the abutters regarding the proposed service, Mr. Vasques stated that there were no written letters of opposition or approval.  Mr. Winchester then summarized the major issues concerning the granting of the variance including potential traffic issues down the road, abutters having the ability to speak in front of the Planning Board regarding this proposed service, most abutters not being opposed to the actual proposed service but having concerns regarding noise and establishment of visual barriers, and the potential restrictions the board could place on this particular variance if granted.  Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Tyler if his intent was to clear his property, Mr. Tyler responded that he wanted to clear the property, plant grass, and make it look good but wetland issues on the property halted his progress.  Mr. Kendall asked Mr. Tyler if he would be opposed to putting up some kind of barriers or make visual improvements to the property.  Mr. Tyler responded that he wanted to plant some vegetation, shrubs 10 or 12 feet high, was going to leave the vegetation on Elm Street, and feels his property looks a lot better than other small business properties in the area.  Mr. Vasques reminded the board members that people chose to buy properties and move into homes in the Village Business District in commercial areas.  Mr. Kendall asked if this could be an issue that could be put on the ballot for a town vote to let the town decide whether the rental of trucks or trailers should be a permitted use in this zoning district.  Mr. Vasques stated that it could be regarding the rental of trucks and trailers in the district but not specifically as the rental of U-Haul trucks on Tyler’s property.  

Mr. Pagano stated that the bottom line rested in the fifth criteria or condition for granting a variance regarding the proposed use being contrary to the spirit of the ordinance.  He explained that the proposed service is directly opposite or contrary to why the ordinance was created, the very reason why the permitted use was specifically taken out in the first place.  He said he needs to be swayed that this proposal is in line with the spirit of the ordinance and the people of the town in order to grant the variance.  Mr. Prokop explained that he is not in favor or against the proposal but stated that the town is stuck in the middle of trying to balance the development of the downtown area with the property rights/privacy issues and property values of the abutters and neighbors in this Village Business District.  Mr. Kendall suggested again to grant the variance but to include specific restrictions or conditions of approval for the Planning Board to consider when Mr. Tyler comes in front of the board for a site plan review.  Mr. Houseworth asked the board how they plan on addressing noise issues and the possibility of property values being diminished by Mr. Tyler providing the U-Haul rental trucks and trailers service.  Mr. Pagano replied that the diminishing property values issue is debatable and these individuals bought property in this district knowing that Mr. Tyler’s small business was their neighbor.  At this time the board members deliberated amongst themselves about the various conditions of approval that could be placed on the granting of this variance so that these conditions could be considered later by the Planning Board.  After a lengthy discussion among the board members, three conditions of approval were drafted by Mr. Vasques and read aloud.  Mr. Kendall moved that a roll call vote be taken on the five criteria to be reviewed when granting a variance including the following three conditions of approval as stated by Mr. Vasques.  

1.      The applicant will provide whatever buffering that may be required by the           Planning Board during their site plan review.
2.      Signage will be limited to that which is on the vehicle and one Location sign. Promotional signage and displays such as banners and flags will not be allowed.
3.      The applicant agrees to limit the number of trucks and trailers as may be determined by the Planning Board during their site plan review. The applicant also agrees to not rent trucks which require a Commercial Drivers License.

Mr. Scales seconded the motion which passed. Roll Call vote:

1.      The proposed use would not diminish surrounding property values. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – aye, Mr. Pagano – aye, Mr. Kendall – aye.
2.      Granting the variance would be of benefit to the public interest. Role call vote: Mr. Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – aye, Mr. Pagano – aye, Mr. Kendall – aye.
3.      Denial of the variance would result in unnecessary hardship to the owner because of special circumstances of the property that distinguish it from other properties similarly zoned. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – aye, Mr. Pagano – aye, Mr. Kendall – aye.
4.      Granting the variance would do a substantial justice. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – aye, Mr. Pagano – aye, Mr. Kendall – aye.
5.      The use is not contrary to the spirit of the ordinance. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – aye, Mr. Pagano – aye, Mr. Kendall – aye.

Mr. Tyler was advised that the variance had been granted and now he has to come in front of the Planning Board for a site plan review regarding the Change of Use.

Business meeting: Mr. Scales made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 23, 2006 meeting as presented. Mr. Pagano seconded the motion which passed.

Mr. Winchester moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Scales seconded the motion which passed. Mr. Winchester adjourned the meeting at 9:05 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Bradley J. Houseworth, Alternate Secretary
Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment

Town of Antrim, NH P.O. Box 517, 66 Main Street Antrim, NH 03440
Phone: (603) 588-6785    Fax: (603) 588-2969    Monday - Thursday 8:00am - 4:00pm
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