ANTRIM ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
September 26, 2006 Meeting
Members & Staff Present:
Chairman Winchester convened the meeting at 7:15 PM. He introduced himself, welcomed everyone, asked the other Board members to introduce themselves, and appointed Mr. Giffin to sit for the absent Mr. Kendall. Chairman Winchester explained the process of the public hearings and how the meetings will be conducted.
Spang, Katalin & John File # 2006-12ZBA: At 7:20 PM, Chairman Winchester opened the public hearing on the request of Katalin S. and John T. Spang for a variance to Article XVI, Section C.1 of the Zoning Ordinance to expand a non-conforming structure for property located on 112 Gregg Lake Road, Antrim, NH 03440 Tax Map 2A, Lot 58 in the Lakefront Residential District. The applicant proposes to raise the roof of the garage by 4 feet in order to accommodate an artwork studio. Chairman Winchester asked the applicant to present their proposal to the Board.
Ms. Spang introduced herself and her husband and stated that they are interested in constructing an artwork studio above their garage. Ms. Spang stated that when they bought the house three (3) years ago, their idea was to construct a new room above the garage and make it into an artwork studio so that she could retire and do artwork. She mentioned that her life long dream has been to have a proper studio and up to now this has been a very small bedroom in their other home. She stated that in two years when they are retired, their hope is to have a nice, large, adequate space for all kinds of paraphernalia, storage room, and work space. She mentioned that she was thrilled when this opportunity came along since they have been planning it for a couple of years. Ms. Spang explained that they had talked with their
original contractor, whom they had hired first, but is no longer their contractor, and after looking the job over told them that what they needed is two (2) extra feet of height to create a proper room. Ms. Spang stated that this is when they came in front of the Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment two (2) months ago, asking for a variance to raise the roof of the garage by 2 feet in order to accommodate the studio. Ms. Spang explained that when the original contractor started working on the project, he discovered that the floor that he was going to put in as low as possible needed to be raised two feet for technical reasons. Ms. Spang stated that they then came in front of the Board for a variance to raise the roof of the garage by two (2) feet and the Board granted it. She stated that at this point, the original contractor told them that if they wanted an adequate ceiling height for a large room (21’ x 23’ is the footprint of the garage) with a
ceiling fan then they need four (4) additional feet in height, not just two (2) additional feet. She stated that they had talked with their electrician and he stated that besides a ceiling fan being an ideal thing for a large room you also want to make sure that the ceiling is high enough so that the room doesn’t feel cramped. Ms. Spang explained that the Building Inspector agreed that it isn’t worth the effort to make such a space above the garage unless it is adequate and is comfortable to be in. Ms. Spang mentioned that it is unfortunate that they didn’t know from the start that they would need more than two (2) additional feet in height for the project. She stated that about a month ago they applied for the new variance for four (4) feet of additional height and that’s why they are here today. Ms. Spang explained that this afternoon, an hour before this public meeting, they heard of all kinds of other complications regarding
this project. She stated that they are absolutely in shock, have spent thousands of dollars on this project, and it looks like there may be other problems now arising. She said she doesn’t understand these new issues but believes Mr. Vasques could explain them.
Mr. Vasques stated that the new development is that the Antrim planning department has become more aware of the Shoreland Protection Act restrictions than we were prior to this time. He mentioned that he had spent the last two (2) days talking with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) as to what can and cannot be done in the jurisdiction of the Shoreland Protection Act. Mr. Vasques used a pen and pad of paper to explain that the NH DES has stated that no primary structures can be erected within fifty (50) feet of the reference line (high water mark near a large body of water). Mr. Vasques stated however, NH DES has stated that an accessory structure is allowed within twenty (20) feet of the reference line, i.e. a garage. Mr. Vasques explained further that NH DES has advised him of
Environmental Rule (Env-Wq 1405.03 titled, ‘Limitations on Accessory Structures’) that states that if an accessory structure is built within the fifty (50) feet and twenty (20) feet lines, it should not have a footprint larger than one hundred and fifty (150) square feet nor shall it exceed twenty (20) feet in height. Mr. Vasques explained that what we have in reality is an existing garage which is roughly thirty-six (36) feet from the high water mark; therefore a portion of the garage is within fifty (50) feet of the reference line and under the jurisdiction of the Shoreland Protection Act. He stated that the fact that the garage may be more than one hundred and fifty (150) square feet is a mute issue because there is not much you can do about it; it is a preexisting, non-conforming structure and you can expand a nonconforming use. Mr. Vasques explained that the problem is the height and NH DES has advised him that the accessory structure cannot
exceed twenty (20) feet in height. He explained that the Board has to divide this proposal into two parts: 1) whether or not the Board will grant the request to raise the roof another two feet over the two feet that was previously granted by the Board, and
2) If the Board decides to grant the variance, they can only conditionally approve the variance because it is dependent upon approval from the State that they can construct an accessory structure that is higher than twenty (20) feet. Mr. Vasques advised the Board that if they feel that the applicants are entitled to raise the roof an additional two feet that they are asking for, the Board can grant it but it needs to include a condition that states this variance is subject to state approval.
Mr. Pagano addressed two questions to Mr. Vasques, 1) What is the height of the existing building before the roof was torn off?, and 2) What is the implication of this document Env-Wq 1405.03 with reference to the zoning variance which was granted for the additional two (2) feet originally and the building permit which is now an issue? Where does this leave the applicant? Mr. Vasques replied that Mr. Jeff Blecharczyk from NH DES told him that the law is the law and it has to be followed. Mr. Vasques continued stating that even though the Board granted a variance to raise the roof by two (2) feet originally, the applicant will still need to get approval or a waiver from NH DES. Mr. Vasques stated that as far as Mr. Pagano’s first question, he referred to Mr. Phelps for the exact height of the garage before the
roof was removed. Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Vasques in regards to the zoning variance which was granted for the original two (2) feet, and the subsequent building permit which was issued; does this essentially mean that the applicants face a cease and desist on their building permit? Mr. Vasques replied yes. Mr. Young added that until the State adjudicates their position, the answer is yes.
Ms. Spang stated to Mr. Vasques that she is almost positive that about three weeks ago when Mr. Parsons measured the distance from their garage to the high water mark, it was forty-six (46) feet. Mr. Vasques replied that the reason that he used thirty-six (36) feet was because that was the number he had received from Mr. Phelps’ measurement and advised the applicant to make sure they have a very precise measurement before speaking with NH DES. Mr. Phelps stated that the measurement he took this afternoon from the garage to the high water mark was simply to ensure that the garage was beyond twenty (20) feet from the reference line; to alleviate that issue. He stated that he had a twenty-five (25) foot tape measure and he was trying to do it outside by himself in the wind so the thirty-six (36) feet is not necessarily
exact. Mr. Giffin added that even if the garage is forty-six (46) feet from the reference line, part of the building is still within fifty (50) feet of the high water mark and under the jurisdiction of the Shoreland Protection Act. Mr. Phelps agreed and stated but if it ever became a question of the percentage of the structure that was within the fifty (50) feet of the high water mark, then the foot measurement would become crucial. The Board concurred.
Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps what was the height of the original structure? Mr. Phelps replied that the current height, now that the roof is gone and all you have is a flat structure with a tarp on it, is eleven feet and six inches (11’ 6”). Mr. Phelps continued stating that the original roof had a twelve/ twelve pitch, the garage is twenty-two (22) feet wide, giving a center height of eleven (11) feet, bringing the total height of the garage to the roof peak to twenty two feet and six inches (22’ 6”). Mr. Pagano summarized by asking so the structure is only two feet and six inches (2’ 6”) over the twenty foot height limit with a twelve/ twelve pitch? Mr. Phelps replied yes. Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps what was the original height of the underside of the floor joist based on
the original builder’s conception, as shown on this drawing? Mr. Phelps stated that there was no original drawing. Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps what is the height that is shown on this drawing that you are proposing? Mr. Phelps asked Mr. Pagano what height he is looking for. Mr. Pagano stated that on the drawing there are two floor joists shown: the original position of the I-joist and the new position of the I-joist. Mr. Phelps stated that the I-joists have already been put in place in the new position. Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps what is the height of the underside of those I-joists to the floor below? Mr. Phelps replied approximately ten feet and eight inches (10’ 8”). Mr. Pagano asked if this building originally had a second floor or not, Mr. Phelps replied that there was no second floor and just attic space. Mr. Pagano asked the applicants what is the use of the space below the floor assembly that is in
place now, is it a garage? Ms. Spang replied yes, it is a garage. Mr. Pagano stated that typically a garage will have an eight (8) foot or an eight foot and six inches (8’ 6”) high ceiling and he doesn’t understand why the garage has a ten feet and eight inches (10’ 8”) high ceiling, which is therefore two feet higher than what is typical for a garage. Mr. Spang stated that they have a breeze way that comes into the garage and the entire height of the garage was probably raised to accommodate the deck and breeze way that comes from the house. Mr. Phelps stated that from the slab to the top of the original sill plates is probably around ten feet and six inches (10’ 6”). Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps so what happened was that you took the roof off and you put the floor joist on top of the wall that was there? Ms. Spang stated that is what the original contractor did. Mr. Phelps added that he
didn’t do it, he hasn’t hammered a single nail on this project yet, and he is just trying to fix what has become a mess.
Mr. Pagano stated that the point he is making (without looking at what’s there for existing conditions and not knowing the elevational change between the garage, breeze way, and the house) is that if the original wall was roughly ten feet and six inches (10’ 6”), if the builder put a ledger down the inside of each wall at eight feet and six inches (8’ 6”) above the existing slab elevation and put the floor assembly where it was originally intended, then the two (2) feet increase that was granted would have worked. Mr. Spang agreed. Mr. Pagano stated that in his opinion, somewhere along the line the wheels fell off, there was a miscalculation and this happened, and that’s why we are here now. Mr. Spang agreed and stated that they were told it was too complicated and too much work to take
off the top of the roof to accommodate the I-beams with the necessary perimeter of special material and it was decided to put it on top of the existing roof. Mr. Pagano replied that there are a variety of other potential structural implications with what he is seeing on the drawing provided, which have possibly or possibly not have been addressed. Mr. Pagano continued explaining that if you do what is shown on this drawing and you add the two (2) to four (4) foot tall wall clip on top of the new floor assembly, and then you put a roof on there that doesn’t have a structural ridge, then those walls will want to spread outwards. Mr. Pagano stated that if this was done as originally conceived: the walls left the way they are, the floor assembly is dropped down, and the ledger going around the perimeter two feet down from the top wall, then it is essentially balloon framing. Mr. Pagano explained that the stud is continuous; the pressure from the tail of
the rafter pushing outwards is countered by the resistance of the stud because it is not two pieces. Mr. Pagano stated that once you do something like this, you essentially have a hinge at the floor point. Mr. Phelps agreed and stated that is why they are proposing collar ties. Mr. Pagano replied that if the collar ties are located more than a third of the distance measured vertically from the top wall to the underside of the ridge, than they don’t really work mathematically. He stated that his opinion is that this project requires mathematically a structural ridge for what is being proposed on this drawing.
Mr. Young asked Mr. Phelps what is the pitch of what you have proposed on this drawing? Mr. Phelps replied that it is not a twelve/ twelve pitch and the drawing is not to scale. He repeated that he is just coming into this project and this project was launched without proper architectural drawings. Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps if he had prepared the drawing currently in front of the Board, he replied yes, about two hours ago. Mr. Phelps stated that obviously, based on what height the applicant’s are allowed to have, the pitch of the roof can change. Mr. Young asked Mr. Phelps if he could vary the pitch of the roof such that the applicant can stay within the twenty (20) foot requirement, he responded stating that considering that the original garage stood twenty two feet and six inches (22’ 6”)
it would be tough. Mr. Young asked if the roofs pitch was a twelve/ twelve, Mr. Phelps replied yes, stating that it matched the house’s roof pitch. Mr. Young stated that on top of ten feet and six inches (10’ 6”), which was the original sill height for the second floor (the joist height), the roof probably started there with a twelve/ twelve pitch with a twenty three (23) feet wide garage, which is eleven feet and six inches (11’ 6”) in height. Mr. Young calculated that so now you have a twenty two (22) foot high structure. Mr. Phelps added that with the original variance that was granted, the height was going to go up to twenty four (24) feet. Ms. Spang added that this elevation, at four feet, is still a little bit lower than the roof line of the main house. Mr. Delaney stated that this additional two feet is what he objects to as an abutter and provided the Board with another copy of the letter he had earlier sent
to the planning department.
Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps what the proposed dimension is from the top of the new floor assembly to the top of the wall, before the roof starts, what is that height? He clarified by asking what is that wall height from the top of the deck to the top of the wall? Mr. Phelps stated that it is approximately three (3) feet, from sill plate to sill plate it is four (4) feet, but he doesn’t know the exact joist thickness. Mr. Pagano stated that for the sake of conversation let’s say that the floor assembly is twelve (12) inches thick, so therefore you have a new wall that is three feet tall. Mr. Phelps agreed. Mr. Pagano stated that his concern is that the applicant doesn’t have the correct sense of what a three (3) foot high wall really looks like. Ms. Spang stated that Mr. Pagano
doesn’t understand because there will be two shed dormers on either side. Mr. Phelps provided the Board with a computerized image of what the proposed building will look like after being completed and stated that this image should clear up a lot of questions. Mr. Pagano asked Mr. Phelps if the building has dormers now, he replied no. Mr. Pagano stated that this is important because the mass of the structure is actually being increased dramatically compared to a lower wall height with a monopitch roof angle as opposed to not only the lower roof height being higher, also having a dormer, which is essentially a full second floor. Mr. Pagano clarified by asking so in fact a full second floor, except for the side walls, is what is being proposed?
Ms. Spang replied that: 1) it is not a full second floor, they are dormers, and 2) they proposed this before any builder touched their garage, they got the permit to do it from the Town, they got the variance from the Zoning Board, and they were told that the dormers do not need a variance, by employees at Town Hall, and that they have a right to dormers anytime they want. Mr. Pagano replied to Ms. Spang stating that her comments are fair however she is asking for a zoning variance and there is an abutter present that is opposed to this variance. Mr. Pagano continued stating that the abutter has a right to understand that the dormer, which is essentially part of your variance application because you are making the building more massive, will impact the three dimensional size of the building and is in fact, in his opinion, a valid
concern. Ms. Spang stated that it will impact the mass, but it won’t impact the height. She stated that they were told, before a builder touched her garage, that they did not need a variance for the mass, only a variance for the height. She stated that if this is different now then this is a surprise to them and they are thousands of dollars into it, winter is coming, it has no roof, we have no resolution, and they are just beside themselves. Mr. Vasques stated that he has to clarify the issue; the applicant is allowed to add dormers with just a building permit if the applicant isn’t going to change the height of the roof. Mr. Pagano stated that there is a slight clarification that needs to be made. He stated that when you look at the building head on from the other side of the street, the dormer will have more mass. He continued stating that when the roof angle of the dormer intersects the new peak, which is higher, that
triangle, which is essentially being made part of the variance application in terms of height, part of the dormer will be above the existing height; it’s not just the peak of the garage. The applicant’s stated that they understand that.
Mr. Giffin stated that based on his calculations, even if the garage had the proposed eight foot and six inches (8’ 6”) ceiling height, and you put an eight/ twelve pitch roof right on the top rafters, then you are within eight (8) inches of being at your height limit already without any second story. Mr. Young replied that the applicant’s understand that; that they were already in noncompliance with the twenty (20) foot height when they had their original roof line at twenty two feet and six inches (22’ 6”). Mr. Giffin agreed but stated that their proposed height is going to be in the neighborhood of twenty five (25) or twenty six (26) feet to the peak, which is considerably above what the NH DES is going to look at. Mr. Giffin continued stating that the original height, if it had a twelve/
twelve pitch, was already a couple feet over the twenty feet height limit, even though it was an existing structure and already there. Mr. Phelps agreed and stated that then the Zoning Board granted the variance to make this structure twenty four (24) feet tall because of a design or engineering glitch between the original contractor and Jeff Parsons. Mr. Phelps continued stating that this is the new design that they came up with for the floor system and in order to retain the original interior ceiling height, then it would require an additional two (2) feet, bringing the total structure height to twenty six (26) feet. Mr. Young asked the applicants if the house is approximately twenty six feet high plus a couple more feet, Mr. Spang said approximately, yes, they don’t know the exact figure. Mr. Young asked the applicants if they area asking for twenty six (26) feet today, which is still lower than the main house, Mr. Spang replied yes.
Mr. Giffin stated that his concern is because they don’t have a detailed drawing, they don’t know what the loads on the side wall are going to be. He explained that he thinks that within the twenty four (24) feet, if the floor was brought back down to a more uniform height of normal garages, then he thinks the applicants can achieve their ceiling height without having to go up the extra two feet. Mr. Phelps replied that however, the floor structure is completely built. Ms. Spang added that not only is the floor built, but the stairway has already been built to the second floor. Mr. Phelps stated that gaining access from the garage thru the breeze way into the house would be an issue, because of the garage foundation, there would be a problem putting in a door. Mr. Phelps stated that he thinks this is
where the initial problem came in because if they brought the engineered I-joists down to the level they were talking about, you would have to have a five foot and three inches (5’ 3”) high door going from the garage into the house. Mr. Pagano stated that there are other ways to address that detail and asked what the floor elevation change is between the garage flat and the breeze way. Mr. Phelps replied that it is roughly four (4) to five (5) feet.
Chairman Winchester asked Mr. Phelps, in regards to the issue with the peak of the roof, if you change the pitch of the roof and use some other form of ventilation besides a ceiling fan, is that something that is feasible within the twenty four (24) feet that you originally have? Mr. Phelps replied that structurally speaking, yes; he is sure that through redesigning it, they can achieve those conditions. Mr. Young suggested that if the applicant’s go down to a ten/ twelve pitch instead of the originally proposed twelve/ twelve pitch and have a three/ twelve dormer, they could still achieve their goal and stay within the twenty four (24) feet. Chairman Winchester explained to the applicants that this particular issue before the Board, and the Board understands the hardship and what you have been through with the
original contractor, is difficult because Mr. Pagano specifically asked you, last time you were in front of the Board, if you were sure you just needed two (2) feet for the project. Chairman Winchester added that now the Board has to consider the NH DES Shoreland Protection Act regulations and if you could do this with what you were originally granted by the Board, then it would be a done deal. He explained that it seems like this additional variance may be much more difficult than just going with what you have already been allowed to do.
Chairman Winchester stated that he would like to allow the abutter to speak, since the individual has made an effort to get here, be present, and speak. Mr. Delaney stated that his concern is his view of the lake, stating that the additional height would block his view of the lake. Chairman Winchester asked Mr. Delaney if he was informed of the original public hearing for the original variance for the two feet height addition, because the Board never heard anything from you objecting to this before. Mr. Delaney stated that he was informed and did not object to the two feet addition in height but now the addition is up to four or six feet and there are dormers involved. Chairman Winchester explained that the dormers might have happened regardless but the Board was originally concerned with the project obstructing an
abutter’s view. Mr. Delaney stated that he did not object to the original two feet height addition. Mr. Young asked Mr. Delaney if the two feet addition is within his acceptance, Mr. Delaney replied yes. Chairman Winchester asked Mr. Delaney if another two (2) feet would obstruct his view from perhaps his second floor. Mr. Delaney replied that he is concerned that this project will end up being even higher then just another four (4) feet, maybe six (6) feet by the end. Chairman Winchester clarified by stating that there will just be another two (2) feet in addition to the original two (2) feet that was granted by the variance. Chairman Winchester clarified by asking Mr. Delaney if the additional two (2) feet would obstruct his view of the lake. Mr. Delaney stated that he didn’t object to the first two (2) feet but does oppose to the additional two (2) feet because the higher they go, the more view he looses of the lake.
Mr. Phelps added that the applicants are not asking to go any wider with the building. Mr. Pagano stated that the other issue that needs to be factored into this decision is that it is not just the two (2) feet at the peak of the building, it is two feet across the roof and the dormers, which have a shallow angle, so you are essentially raising the entire cross section of the building. Mr. Pagano continued stating that the dormers essentially exacerbate the wall effect and stated that the visual impact would be less without the dormers. Chairman Winchester explained that the dormers were something that was included when the original two (2) feet in additional height was granted by the Board. Mr. Pagano agreed but stated however, the dormers are a factor in eclipsing the abutter’s view. Chairman Winchester agreed and stated that he just wanted to confirm that Mr. Delaney is opposed strictly to the additional two (2) feet that has been
proposed today by the applicants. Mr. Pagano stated that yes, the abutter’s view will be impacted by an additional two (2) feet in height, the dormers not withstanding. He stated that the dormers will however exacerbate that issue, even though they are technically permitted.
Chairman Winchester asked the Board if they have anymore questions for the applicant. Mr. Young asked Mr. Vasques if the applicant stays within the two feet additional height that has already been granted by this Board, do they still need to go to the State for clarification. Mr. Crafts commented that that was his question and that the Board basically granted a variance for something that the Board didn’t have the authority to do without the State approval. Mr. Vasques explained that the Board basically granted a variance to the Town’s ordinance, which is the expansion of a non-conforming structure, but the applicant still has to comply with the state’s regulations and requirements. Mr. Young stated that had the applicant not come back for a second variance, the issue may have never come up.
Mr. Crafts asked Mr. Vasques if the applicants can still continue to build without State approval, Mr. Vasques stated no, they can’t do anything. Mr. Young stated that now that the applicant and the State are aware of the issue, they have to deal with it and address it. Mr. Giffin stated that we also have to remember that the Board granted the variance to the Town’s ordinances but just because the Town said the applicant can build an additional two (2) feet, they went ahead and started work without checking with the State. Mr. Young stated that he thinks there is some culpability there that the Board has once the variance was granted. Mr. Vasques disagreed stating that he has reviewed the whole situation with NH DES: the fact that the building permit was issued, the fact that work was started, and the fact that the roof was torn down does not negate the law, bottom line. Mr. Young stated that he understands this but stated he’s
talking about something else besides negating the law. Mr. Vasques stated that the issue on the table is not culpability.
Chairman Winchester asked again if the Board has anymore questions for the applicants or the abutter. Mr. Young asked the applicants if they are only allowed the original variance that was granted for the additional two (2) feet, is it possible to build the structure, reduce the pitch of the roof line to stay within the two feet, and still get a reasonable size dormer out of it. Mr. Phelps stated that he hasn’t taken the time to figure it out yet. Mr. Young continued stated that it certainly appears to him that the applicants can reduce the roof pitch down to a ten/ twelve, still have a reasonable dormer, and have waterproof construction without involving the neighbors view anymore than the two (2) feet the Board has already granted. Mr. Young stated that regardless of what the State says, the Board has to go
through the permit stage that the Board, or applicant, is obligated to go through to achieve the end goal. Mr. Young stated that he just wants to know if the applicants feel that they can do the project within the two feet. Mr. Phelps stated that it is something he is going to have to look into and he doesn’t want to give an answer without first looking at the issue. Mr. Young asked for Mr. Pagano’s input on the subject. Mr. Pagano stated that the issue it is not the primary roof angle, but it is a function of the wall height of the dormer and the roof angles of it. Mr. Pagano stated that it is a very difficult question to answer because part of the problem is the lack of planning. Mr. Pagano explained that the original builder was going to have a balloon frame situation and for some reason, unbeknownst to the Board, the builder decided to change the plans and placed the floor on top of the exiting walls and told the applicants they
need more height to finish the job. He stated that somewhere along the line the wheels fell off and here we are.
Mr. Giffin explained that even if the applicants had finished the entire project based on the Board’s granted variance, the State could still come back and tell the applicants to tear the whole structure down because the applicants didn’t comply with the state regulations. Mr. Young added that it is not just the Town that the applicants are dealing with now at this point. Mr. Phelps asked the question if the Board granted the variance, and the building permit was issued, how much responsibility is on the homeowner’s to be knowledgeable about these state regulations, to do research on these issues, and know when to get State approval and how much responsibility is on the Town employees that deal with these issues everyday and conduct community planning and zoning initiatives? Mr. Giffin stated that it is
also on the contractors because they have to know that when dealing with waterfront properties there are a considerable amount of regulations.
Mr. Pagano replied stating that he is not an attorney, but in his opinion, from the perspective of the homeowner, who goes in front of the Zoning Board, gets a zoning variance, goes to the building department, submits plans, and gets a building permit, the responsibility beyond that for permitting lays squarely with the Town. Mr. Pagano continued stating that in his opinion the Town issues the Building permit and it is the Building Department and Code Officials responsibility to know if there is a State requirement for additional permitting. He stated that once the homeowner has a building permit in hand, that is it, which is why the homeowner goes to the Town for a building permit; the public is not supposed to know everything. He explained that the homeowner goes to the municipality and asks what they need to do to put a
second floor on their house and the municipality advises them as to all the things that need to be done in order to finish the project legally. He stated that in terms of what has happened tonight with the applicants; he didn’t foresee this issue with NH DES as being the applicant’s problem and believes that it should be put out on the table. Mr. Pagano stated that if you put yourself in the applicants’ position, the original contractor has messed up, considerable investment has been made, and they are getting this vibe from the Board that they should have known enough to go to NH DES; that’s not the impression that the Board wants to give to the applicants. Mr. Pagano stated that quite frankly, at this point, the Town should take the lead on organizing, making phone calls possibly, to take the heat off of the homeowners and go to NH DES stating that the Town had overlooked this during the permitting process and ask what can the Town do to
help facilitate this process. Mr. Vasques replied that this has already been done and the next step is for the applicant to file with NH DES. Mr. Pagano told the applicants that there will be some paperwork involved on their end but the State should understand that essentially there was an over sight on the municipalities’ part. Mr. Young stated that the paperwork should accompany the application. Mr. Pagano agreed and stated that he doesn’t see this hurdle as being insurmountable. Mr. Vasques explained that the State is already aware of the fact that the roof has been removed, the applicant has the name of the contact of the State, a copy of the environmental rules at play, and he has already offered his assistance to help out.
Mr. Phelps stated that his only fear in decreasing the pitch of the roof is that it is going to make the garage look different from the house and not necessarily match; it won’t be as aesthetically pleasing as if the two structures had the same pitch on the roofs. Ms. Spang added that she is concerned that if the roof has to be too flat, there may be more problems with the load of the snow and ice, stating that they have had issue with strong winds in that location before, and they are worried about the roof being sound and she stated that the flatter the roof is, the less sound it is. Mr. Pagano disagreed, stating that it is not that simple that steep roofs are good and flat roofs are bad, there are plenty of flat roofs in the world and it is just a technical issue that needs a technical answer.
Mr. Young made a motion that the Board close the public hearing, open the public meeting, and deliberate amongst themselves, which was seconded by Chairman Winchester. Mr. Vasques advised the Board that he has provided them with a copy of the roll call vote sheet for an area variance that will be used to decide whether to grant this variance. Mr. Young stated that he feels that they applicants have had the wool pulled over their eyes to some degree with their original builder and the Board did grant them the original two feet and it is our job to honor that variance. He continued that it is also the Board’s duty and responsibility to help the applicants get State approval for that variance; the Board has to go to bat for them. He stated that if there is a way for the applicants do to their project and stay
within the two feet already allowed, which satisfies the abutter’s concerns, and if they reduce the pitch of the roof in a sound manner, then that may be the Board’s best avenue. Chairman Winchester explained that he personally feels that the issue is the architectural integrity vs. the objecting abutter. Mr. Giffin stated that he feels that there are many different options available for the applicants to explore, other than raising the roof, in order to achieve the usage and space they want and satisfy all parties involved. After a thorough discussion among the Board members about potential options that are available to the applicants in order to get their project done and stay within the local and state regulations, Mr. Crafts stated that he would be upset about the situation if he were the applicant and would recommend talking with a lawyer about the situation. Mr. Pagano stated to the applicants that he is an architect by trade and that as a
gesture of goodwill, on behalf of the Town of Antrim, in a sense, an apology for the Town overlooking the NH DES aspect of the project, he is willing to come over, look at the project, and spend an hour with your builder to try and come to some closure on the project. Mr. Phelps stated that his willing to work with Mr. Pagano on the project to come to some kind of mutual agreement.
Chairman Winchester asked the Board if they have any further questions or is the Board ready to move to a roll call vote. Mr. Young stated that he agrees with Mr. Pagano in that there are many options available to the applicants to finish the project under the current conditions. Chairman Winchester made a motion that a roll call vote be taken on the six criteria to be reviewed when granting an area variance including the one condition of approval: that the granting of the variance is dependent on state approval from NH DES for Env-Wq 1405.03, “Limitations on Accessory Structures.” Mr. Young seconded the motion which passed. Roll Call vote:
1. The value of surrounding properties will not be diminished. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – aye, Mr. Young – aye, Mr. Giffin – aye, Mr. Pagano – nay.
2. The variance will not be contrary to the public interest. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – aye, Mr. Young – aye, Mr. Giffin – nay, Mr. Pagano – nay.
3. Special conditions exist such that literal enforcement of the ordinance results in unnecessary hardship as follows:
A) An area variance is needed to enable the applicant’s proposed use of the property given the special conditions of the property. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – nay, Mr. Young – nay, Mr. Giffin – nay, Mr. Pagano – nay.
B) The benefit sought by the applicant cannot be achieved by some other method reasonably feasible for the applicant to pursue, other than an area variance. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – nay, Mr. Young – nay, Mr. Giffin – nay, Mr. Pagano – nay.
4. Substantial justice is done. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – aye, Mr. Winchester – nay, Mr. Young – nay, Mr. Giffin – nay, Mr. Pagano – nay.
5. The variance is consistent with the spirit of the ordinance. Role call vote: Mr. Scales – nay, Mr. Winchester – nay, Mr. Young – aye, Mr. Giffin – nay, Mr. Pagano – nay.
Ms. Spang was advised that the variance was denied and she would receive an official notice of decision in the mail, signed by Chairman Winchester. Mr. Vasques explained that the next step would be for Mr. Pagano to get with Mr. Phelps and decide what to do, for the applicant’s to get very precise measurements of the structures on the property and their distance to the high water mark, and contact NH DES. Mr. Vasques advised the applicants that the planning staff is willing to work with them to get approval from the state for this proposed activity and help on any other matters related to this application.
Approve ZBA Meeting Minutes: Mr. Winchester made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 5, 2006 meeting as presented. Mr. Pagano seconded the motion which passed.
Resignation of Vasques as an Alternate Member of the Board: Mr. Vasques provided the Board with an official notice that he is resigning as an alternate member of the Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment on the grounds that his staff position as Town Planner and that of an alternate may be perceived to be a conflict of interest should the matter appear before a court of law.
Updated ZBA Membership Roster: Mr. Vasques asked the Board to update their contact information, including e-mail addresses, on the ZBA Roster so that it is current.
2006 NH OEP Fall Planning and Zoning Conference: Mr. Vasques reminded the Board about a Fall Planning and Zoning Conference that is being put on by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) in the Waterville Valley on Saturday, October 28, 2006. Mr. Vasques provided the Board with the conference application materials and recommended to the Board that they register for the conference well ahead of the registration deadline so that the members can choose what sessions they would like to do. Mr. Vasques advised the Board that the Town has funds available to pay for the application costs for the Board members.
Southwest Region Planning Commission’s Fall Meeting: Mr. Vasques advised the board of the SWRPC’s Fall Meeting which is to be held at the Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, NH on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 7:00 PM. Mr. Vasques mentioned that dinner will be provided and if anyone is interested they should RSVP by Friday, October 6.
Criteria for Granting Variances: Mr. Vasques provided the Board with a memo distinguishing between a ‘Use’ variance and an ‘Area’ variance. Mr. Vasques stated that the only difference between the two, in terms of the criteria for granting a variance, lies in criteria # 3, which deals with hardship. Mr. Vasques asked the Board to review the memo and be aware of the difference between the two types of variances.
Mr. Scales moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Pagano seconded the motion which passed. Mr. Winchester adjourned the meeting at 8:45 PM.
Bradley J. Houseworth,
Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment