Zoning Board of Adjustment
May 23, 2018
Draft Meeting Minutes
1. Call to Order
David Gulbrandsen called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM.
Board members present at the meeting were Willis Wood, Ethan McNaughton, James Cahill, and David Gulbrandsen. Ed Morris, the Town Manager, and Sven Fedorow, land use administrator was also in attendance.
The audience members were Lisa Baker, Kevin Conley, John MacLaughlin, Lucas MacLaughlin, Michelle MacLaughlin, and Kelly Plummer.
3. Comments from the Public
There were no comments from the public.
4. Approval of Prior Meeting Minutes: April 25, 2018
Ethan McNaughton made a motion to postpone approval of the minutes till the next meeting. Willis Wood seconded it. All were unanimous to postpone approval of the minutes.
5. Public Hearing
a. Hagar/Plummer height variance:361 Amsden School Road
The Board moved this hearing second. David Gulbrandsen opened the hearing at 7:56 PM. The Board had no exparte communication or conflict of interest. David Gulbrandsen and Willis Wood were on the Board for Kelly Plummer’s prior application. Kelly Plummer affirmed and had interested party status.
Ed Morris stated that Hal Wilkins, previous Zoning Administrator, was working with them and helped them with the conditional use. Hal Wilkins sent them the Notice of Violation. Ed Morris met with Kelly Plummer to discuss the violations. Kelly Plummer worked quickly and fixed all the flood plain issues. Ed Morris stated that at that time the height of the house looked too high. He measured it one way and came up with 40 feet. They measured it another way and came up with 39.5 feet. It is over 35 feet. The grade of the slope on the south side rises. There is a ledge outcropping in the back also. He took Jason Rasmussen, from Regional Planning Commission, there to look at it. Ed Morris stated that Kelly Plummer had been working with the Town and replaced the necessary boards, etc. They need a variance for the height of the building. Jason Rasmussen stated that 35 feet was needed for the fire ladder. It was a safety option. Ed Morris showed Kelly Plummer where on the permit it stated 35 feet height limit. David Gulbrandsen wanted to know what role Jason Rasmussen played. Ed Morris said that he hoped Jason Rasmussen could give him some suggestions since he was acting Zoning Board Administrator.
Exhibit #1 was the application. Exhibit #2 was the previous application for structure to construction (2 pages with site plan). Exhibit #3 was the Conditional Use presented in 2016. Exhibit #4 was a letter dated May 23, 2018 to Kelly Plummer from Ed Morris.
Kelly Plummer stated that they have been coming to the Town and consulting with Hal Wilkins. He came out and looked at it as it was being built. She asked him how high the roof could be. He told them that midway of the roof needed to be 35 feet. There had no building plans for this house. They are doing it freestyle. The concrete had to be flood resistance. The living level starts at 2 feet above the flood plain. The first living level is way above that. The concrete area will be for storage. They need a 2-foot platform for utilities. The conversation with Hal Wilkins happened in August. Ethan McNaughton asked Kelly Plummer if she relied on that information to come up with 40 feet. She said that they did not have any idea that is why they had him come out there. The violation was for building material not being waterproof. Ed Morris stated that they started working with Hal Wilkins and then he started working with them. James Cahill wanted to know the knee wall height. Kelly Plummer stated that it was 6 feet. Ed Morris stated that he is aware of the midway comment with Hal Wilkins. Ed Morris mentioned that he was not there when Hal Wilkins told them that. He only can go as to how it is built now. There was a stop work issued due to the flood material not being adequate.
Kelly Plummer stated that the second story was there when Hal Wilkins was there. The mid roof is about 35 feet and to the peak is 39.5 feet. Ed Morris stated that midway up height is used in other Towns. The conditional use permit says maximum use height. He said midway is about 35 feet. James Cahill wanted to know the length of the new ladder truck. Ed Morris stated that it is well over 35 feet. He has spoked with Josh Dauphin, West Weathersfield’s fire chief, and he does not have a fire safety concern with this building.
Ed Morris stated that the middle wall needed openings too and the door jams need to be swapped out. John Broker Campbell is happy with the flood zone changes. Willis Wood stated that it is a self-imposed hardship to live in a flood zone. Ethan McNaughton stated that there is a conditional use permit with requirements. If the Board issues a variance, it says everything is fine there. Ed Morris sated that the floodplain violation has been removed. David Gulbrandsen went over the five criteria for a variance. Kelly Plummer stated that it is in a floodplain and that Hal Wilkins told her that it could be 35 feet at midway of the roof. There is a house across Route 131that has 3 stories. Ed Morris stated that the way the house is situated, the trees on the back of the property hide the house.
Willis Wood asked about the cost of taking the roof down. Kelly Plummer stated that it would cost a lot. They had to have a crane for the tresses. Throughout the process, they checked with Hal Wilkins.
Ethan McNaughton made a motion to close the hearing at 8:28 PM. Willis Wood seconded it. All were unanimous.
b. McLaughlin max accessory dwelling size variance: 462 S. Mountain Road
David Gulbrandsen opened the hearing at 7:05 PM. The Board did not have any conflict of interest or exparte communication. Sven Fedorow stated that there is an existing structure of 28 feet by 56 feet (1568 sq. ft) and this would be an accessory dwelling on the land. The proposed structure is 16 feet by 32 feet (512 sq. ft). According to the Bylaws, the rule for accessing dwellings is that the total habitual flooring needs to be 30%. The habitual flooring for this comes out to be 32.68%. He contacted different municipalities to see how they deviated from the rule. They stated that it is not workable in all situation. If 30% of a small structure, then something so small will not be habitable. If the existing structure was1500 sq. ft, then 30% of that would be 500 sq. feet which is a very small accessory building.
Ethan McNaughton stated that there has been other decision cited, did they modify their Bylaws too. Sven Fedorow does not know that. They are municipalities so therefore they can deviate from the rules. Ed Morris stated that Sven Fedorow mentioned this to the Board because the Planning Commission discussed this at their last meeting. The State Statue says that it is not allowed to restrict below 30%. Exhibit #1 was the application which includes the site plan (2 pages). Exhibit #2 was the land use administrator’s calculation of square footage. Exhibit #3 was a photograph that represents a photograph of the building in mind.
Lucas MacLaughlin stated that the photograph is not to scale. The photograph is larger than what is proposed. It will be gamble style with some of the square footage being loft area. The loft would be used for storage. Ethan McNaughton asked if it will be habitable and single floor. Lucas MacLaughlin stated that he is not sure how much will be habitable. There is not an attic or basement in their current home so they will be storing some things there.
John MacLaughlin stated that there will be 10 feet by 12 feet bedroom upstairs and 12 feet by 16 feet deck. He will lose 1/3 of the bedroom for knee well. There maybe 64 feet less downstairs and adding 56 feet from the plan presented. The bottom floor will be 16 feet by 32 feet. They are thinking about taking off 4 feet by 4feet for a porch which would reduce it some. The orientation of the building has changed to be perpendicular to the road. The power line is 50 feet inside from the street. The accessory building will be 97 feet from the stonewall and 77 feet from the inside edge of the property.
David Gulbrandsen went over the five criteria of the Bylaws for a variance. John MacLaughlin stated that nothing prevents them from going smaller, but 16 feet by 32 feet is similar to a 32-foot RV trailer with porch. He said that personally he has done electrical and carpentry before. The porch will be 4 feet and push out from the 16-foot width. That would change the dimensions from 16 feet to 28 feet.
Lucas MacLaughlin stated that the current structure is 28 feet by 56 feet which is a double wide. There is a 16 foot by 4-foot porch on the front, but it is not insulated nor anchored to the house. It is an 8.2-acre lot. David Gulbrandsen asked if there are other multi-structures in the neighborhood. Lucas MacLaughlin stated that there are garage, barns, and sheds at nearby properties. John MacLaughlin stated that they did consider a larger size but because of the location and topography it would have overgrown the land. The suggested size is comfortable and fits in the available property. It would allow for some privacy between Lucas MacLaughlin and himself. He lives in 56 feet by 10 feet mobile home and would like the new structure to be a little wider. He would choose to cut the length down vs. the width.
Ethan McNaughton read over accessory unit definition. Since this won’t be attached to the mobile home, it is having a second dwelling on property. Lucas MacLaughlin said he thought it would fall under the PUD or HUD accessory dwelling building. He has tried to find the criteria for those units. Sven Fedorow stated that PUD can be varied in multiple ways. David Gulbrandsen stated that on the application it stated PUD or POD. He read page 68 of the Bylaws regarding PUDs. Ethan McNaughton stated that it is not mentioned in rural residential so PUD’s are not allowed there. Lucas MacLaughlin stated that he did not know how to go about submitting this application. He thought it was under HUD. He is medically disabled and his brother who lives in Nevada is partially disabled. The family wanted to bring him home. He read about the HUD program and thought the Town provided it.
Lisa Baker who is an abutter wanted to know exactly where the proposed structure will be going. John MacLaughlin showed them on the site plan where it will be going. Kevin Conley wanted to know if the proposed structure will meet the required setbacks. John MacLaughlin stated that it does. Exhibit #4 was the updated site plan by moving the proposed structure perpendicular to the road.
David Gulbrandsen made a motion for the Board to go into deliberative session at 7:45 PM. Willis Wood seconded it. The Board came back from deliberative session at 7:54 PM.
James Cahill made a motion to close the hearing at 7:55 PM. Willis Wood seconded it. All were unanimous to close the hearing.
David Gulbrandsen asked the Board members if they received enough information in their packets. The Board members stated that they did, but would like to see which zones the properties are in.
James Cahill made a motion to adjourn at 8:35 PM. Willis Wood seconded it. All were unanimous to adjourn the meeting.