TOWN OF PELHAM
PLANNING BOARD MEETING
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
The Clerk called the roll:
PRESENT: Jeff Gowan, Paddy Culbert, Michael Soby, Henry DeLuca, Victor Danevich, William Scanzani, Alternate Peter McNamara, Alternate Gael Ouellette, Alternate Doris Cvinar, Selectmen’s Representative Deb Casey, Planning Director Vincent Messina
ABSENT: Alternate Richard Foote, Alternate Carl Huether
ML 6-185 – Mahoney, Thomas/Irene Drive/Phase II – Design Change Consideration
The Clerk read aloud the list of abutters.
Mr. Peter Zohdi, Herbert Associates, appeared before the board to present the proposed design change for the fire/access road on Phase II of One Hundred Acre Woods. Mr. Zohdi explained that there are two plans for the board to review – the original plan submitted and the subsequent plan that was worked on with the Planning Board and approved.
Mr. Zohdi explained that that original plan allowed for the extension of Irene Drive with the understanding that the applicant would come back to the board with a plan for a connection to Noela. With this in mind, Phase I for Irene Drive was approved.
Mr. Zohdi explained that when they returned to the board with Phase II, they showed Robin Road ending in a cul de sac and Honey Lane connecting to Noela Avenue as requested. Full engineering and plan details were presented to the board.
The board then requested that the applicant loop Robin Road to Honey Lane and that a fire lane be constructed to Noela Avenue. At that time, Mr. Zohdi, the Planning Director, the Fire Chief and the applicant met to discuss the fire lane. The Fire Chief asked that the fire lane be widened to a minimum of 18 ft. to allow proper access for the fire equipment. Mr. Zohdi noted that a normal town road is 24 ft. paved. He explained that the board must decide whether they wish the applicant to construct a cul de sac on Robin Road and pave a 24 ft. fire road or if they wish the applicant to construct the extra 400 ft. of roadway to connect Robin Road to Honey Lane and make the fire road 18 ft. Mr. Zohdi stated that the applicant is willing to do whatever the board recommends. Both plans are available for the board’s review and decision.
Mr. Gowan asked for a motion to reconsider the plan. Mr. Zohdi explained that they are not here to reconsider the plan, they are here to “work with the board”. He requested that the board not “rescind” the previously approved plan.
Mr. Culbert explained that, in the past, if a plan was approved with “caveats” and those caveats failed, the board would address them accordingly. He does not remember ever re-opening a plan. Mr. Scanzani explained that if the conditions of an approved plan were not met, it would not have to be re-opened but the board could “force the design”.
Mr. Gowan stated that is not appropriate to totally ignore the Highway Safety Committee’s recommendations. The board is charged with protecting the town residents.
Mr. Zohdi stated that as an applicant, he has the right to come back before the board, with proper notification to the abutters, to request a change to the plan.
Mr. Zohdi noted that he had met with the Fire Chief, Mr. Messina and his client, and that the Fire Chief was satisfied at that time with the 18 ft. fire lane.
Mr. Jim Pitts, Town Administrator, appeared before the board to clarify the role of the Highway Safety Committee. Mr. Pitts explained that this committee was reactivated after being non-existent for a while. Its purpose and scope do not have much to do with the Planning Board. It became apparent that the Planning Board had not heard all of the information that they should have from the town staff. Mr. Pitts stated that it makes no sense for the Fire Chief, Police Chief and Highway Agent to meet with the board and discuss every plan but he feels that it does make sense to have them review the plans and “initial” them or make comment if necessary. Mr. Pitts stated that the Highway Safety Committee has strong expertise and they are available to advise the board in these matters. He noted that he had requested that a letter be sent to the Planning Board regarding this particular project.
Mr. Pitts added that Mr. Messina would route these plans through the Fire Department, Police Department, the Highway Department or whomever he deems appropriate for comment and initialing. Mr. Messina further noted that, in the past, the Street Naming Committee had reviewed and commented on all proposed street names. This process also needs to be continued.
Mr. Gowan read aloud the letter dated April 3, 2000 from the Highway Safety Committee. (Attachment #1)
Acting Police Chief Evan Haglund and Fire Chief David Fisher appeared before the board to discuss the role of the Highway Safety Committee. Chief Haglund explained that the initial concerns of the committee were the proposed gated, fire road. They were also concerned about the weight capability of the roadway, who would maintain the gates and who would plow this access road. The committee further felt that the fire road should be built according to town specifications as an access to Honey Lane.
Chief Haglund further noted that the committee is concerned with the length of Irene Drive and the further extension of this road without a second egress for emergency vehicles. The committee would like to see a second egress to this project.
Chief Fisher agrees with Chief Haglund’s statements. He feels that there may have been some misinterpretation regarding the proposed fire lane when he spoke with Mr. Zohdi. Chief Fisher stated that a graveled fire lane would not handle the weight of some of the fire equipment. He recommended that the through fire lane be paved and brought to town standards. The committee is seeking to maintain this fire lane 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
Chief Fisher explained that Irene Drive is currently one mile long with only one entrance and exit. These 41 homes must be serviced and protected by the Fire Department and Police Department. The school buses also must service this mile long roadway. Chief Fisher stated that the town must protect these residents from the worst case scenario. He questioned a future Phase III of this project.
Chief Fisher feels that the proposed widened fire lane is the safest way to go to properly protect the residents. The committee did not feel that the proposed dirt fire lane was the best solution for this project. Irene Drive must be connected.
Chief Fisher noted that the Planning Board has some serious work to be done on cul de sacs throughout the town to insure that they do not extend too far without a connection.
Mr. Gowan asked if there were any other suggestions for improving the safety of the intersection of Marsh and Noela. Chief Haglund explained that speed is a concern throughout the town. They can make this intersection a priority area for patrol. The traffic study conducted states that the posted speed on that part of Marsh Road is adequate.
Mr. Messina referred to the intersection study completed by CLD and the recommendations made for improvements where additional signage was proposed for the Westerly side of Marsh Road. He noted that the site distance as currently measured is designed for 45 mph although the posted speed is 30 mph. The ASHTO standards also take into consideration that people do exceed the posted speed limits. Weather conditions are also taken into consideration when determining the safe site distance.
Mr. Messina further noted that by providing two egresses, you allow the residents two options for entering and exiting the subdivision.
Ms. Cvinar suggested that the board consider the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Noela and Marsh. Mr. Messina explained that a traffic light is not indicated at this intersection based on the traffic study conducted. Warning signs already exist on the curve of Marsh Road at Noela.
Mr. Culbert asked for clarification on how much “grooving” would cost for Marsh Road. Mr. Soby stated that CLD was going to look into this issue. Mr. David Brouillet, CLD, stated that rumble strips are not typically installed in the residential zone. They are loud and he does not feel that the volume of traffic observed at this intersection warrants them. Mr. Brouillet estimated that the grooving would cost approximately $3,000.
Mr. Zohdi noted that the road speed is clearly posted. Mr. Culbert further noted that the signs have flashing lights.
Mr. Zohdi explained that the board has the jurisdiction to request a paved roadway for the fire lane – either 18 ft, 22 ft or 24 ft. He noted that Noela Avenue is 22 ft. wide. Mr. Scanzani stated that he has a problem paving a road to less than current town standards. He questioned if this roadway would ever be utilized for a future connection. Mr. Zohdi explained that the only land left in the area for future development is owned by Zolkos. This parcel is very wet and any connecting road to Thomas Avenue would have to go through the wetlands. Mr. Zohdi explained that a connecting road is not feasible at this point in time, even with the average cost of a lot being $85,000 to $110,000.
Mr. Danevich stated that there was discussion of sign restoration in this area at the site walk.
Mr. Zohdi referred to the plan and pointed out the edge of wet and WCD buffer. He suggested that the fire lane be offset rather than putting it on the centerline in order to move it further away from the WCD.
Ms. Linda Bronson, Noela Avenue, asked if the ungated fire road is approved, would there be any “taking” of property to widen Noela Avenue. Mr. Gowan said no. Ms. Bronson feels that the Planning Board has created this problem by allowing a mile long cul de sac on Irene Drive. She believes that anyone utilizing Noela Avenue as an access to Marsh Road is placing themselves in danger. Ms. Bronson asked that a compromise be reached and a gated, town maintained fire road be constructed to prevent using Noela Avenue as a thoroughfare. This way, the safety of the residents of Noela and Irene would be protected.
Mr. Messina explained that this fire road must be maintained year round and the gate will have to be opened several times a year. Emergency personnel would have to open two gates in order to gain entry. Mr. Messina explained that this roadway connection would give the people on Noela another option to exit elsewhere.
Mr. Al Letendre, 20 Irene Drive, feels that a gated fire road will force all of the traffic on Irene Drive out one exit. Mr. Letendre feels that Irene Drive is already too long and without a release for the traffic, there will be additional problems. He stated that there are a lot of children playing in the streets now. Mr. Letendre noted that the proposed access would not effect the wetlands.
Ms. Elizabeth Ann Frappier, 15 Irene Drive, read aloud a statement regarding her on going problem with contaminated water at her home on Irene Drive. Ms. Frappier explained that she did not have potable water for the first three years that she lived in her house. This water problem is similar to the one reported in the newspaper recently at another house on Irene Drive. Ms. Frappier stated that this problem is not an isolated incident and she urged the board to formulate minimum standards for water quality and quantity in the town. She asked that the board make sure that something be put in place to protect the aquifer from future contamination.
Mr. Gowan explained that in the past, the Board has requested water testing on specific lots.
Ms. Casey requested that the Planning Board hold off on approval of this plan until the Board of Selectmen has the opportunity to discuss the proposed water safety regulations as part of the Board of Health. The Board of Selectmen is aware that there is a problem with water in this area and they would like to see these regulations on the books prior to the Planning Board approving this subdivision. She noted that these regulations would only protect future homeowners, not current homeowners.
Ms. Pat Fraize, Noela Avenue, asked for clarification on the electronically operated gate system that the Planning Director spoke of at previous meetings. Mr. Zohdi stated that the Fire Chief explained that they could not be responsible for opening, closing and maintaining this gate, therefore it would not be a viable option. Mr. Messina explained that this type of gate is utilized on a large commercial property where it can be properly supervised and maintained. It is not a viable option for a public access way.
Ms. Fraize reminded the board that James Gove, Gove Environmental, did not recommend that a through road be constructed in this area because of the impact to the wetlands. Mr. Zohdi asked that the board compare the damage from salt/sand on the proposed road to the amount of damage being created by the open sewage pipe to the wetlands that was discovered during the cutting of the roadway. Mr. Messina agreed that they have uncovered some relatively serious violations of wetlands ordinance with what appears to be a basement pump. Mr. Zohdi stated that he is willing to pull this pipe out for the town.
Ms. Alicia Hennessey, Conservation Commission Chairman, stated that Ms. Fraize is correct that Mr. Gove did recommend that Honey Lane not be built. He felt that this proposed roadway would destroy the wetlands. The drainage flows from Marsh Road down to Beaver Brook. The Conservation Commission would like to see this proposed fire lane as narrow as possible to reduce impact to the wetlands.
Mr. Tim Fraize, Noela Avenue, stated that this plan was approved 5 – 0 – 0 based on information brought to the board by Mr. Farris on the electronic gates. Mr. Fraize stated that an amount of money was going to be put aside by the applicant in order to cover vandalism of these gates. Mr. Gowan explained that the Highway Safety Committee appeared this evening to make their report and he understands the confusion over the electronic gates. The committee clearly recommends the original plan with a connecting road to Noela.
Mr. Fraize referred to the traffic study conducted by CLD indicating a large traffic impact on Noela Avenue. He believes that the complete loop on Robin Road is still is the best option to reach Honey Lane.
Mr. Letendre, 20 Irene Drive, referred to the problems with well water on Irene Drive. He questioned if the board could impose a bond to cover the well problems being caused by the developer. Mr. Gowan explained that the board has no legal authority to go back and assist these people with their wells. The board will be discussing performance bonds at a later date to deal with these issues.
Mr. Ron Blanchette, Irene Drive, stated that he is looking for “balance” of traffic flow and safety. He does not feel that the Zolkos parcel is a viable connection. Mr. Blanchette noted that his water is “failing”.
Mr. Messina stated that according to the current subdivision regulations, it is up to the discretion of the board to require water testing to state and federal standards. The approved plan for Phase II of ML 6-185 requires certified well tests prior to any occupancy permits being issued. Unfortunately, this does not change what has been done in the past.
Ms. Lisa Langenfeld, Irene Drive, stated that she has experienced no problems with her well water and expressed her sympathy for the other residents of Irene Drive.
Mr. Zohdi stated that there is good water in this development and he agrees that each well should be tested prior to the issuance of occupancy permits.
Ms. Debbie Gibbons, 169 Marsh Road, stated that there have been more than ten accidents at the intersection of Noela and Marsh Road over the last six years. Ms. Gibbons stated that, with four children, she depends on Noela Avenue being a dead end street as a safeguard.
Mr. Zohdi referred to Rockingham County Registry of Deeds Plan #2557 from 1963 where a 50 ft. right of way is shown off of Noela Avenue. He explained that the radius of the intersection at Noela and Marsh is 75 ft. which is adequate at today’s standards. Mr. Gowan asked if a school bus would be able to make the turn. Mr. Zohdi explained that a school bus is smaller than a fire truck, therefore, it should be able to make the turn. If it is not sufficient, his client should correct it.
Mr. Ed Gibbons, 169 Marsh Road, stated that the board needs to address the issue of long term growth limits. Mr. Gowan explained that the board is constantly looking at ways to limit growth. Mr. Gibbons feels that this is a deadly corner.
Mr. Blanchette does not want his family relying on a “key” to a gate in the case of a fire or other emergency. He stated that his well is 240 ft. deep and that he has lived on Irene Drive for 7 ½ years. Mr. Blanchette stated that his water is now “fading”.
Ms. Carol Bergeron, 173 Marsh Road, sympathizes with the plight of the residents on Irene Drive but does not feel that a through road is the solution. Ms. Bergeron feels that there will be more fatalities on Marsh Road if more traffic is allowed to travel through the Noela/Marsh intersection.
Mr. Gowan stated that he has great difficulty ignoring what the Fire Chief and Police Chief have recommended.
Mr. Gowan asked for clarification on the water issue from Ms. Casey. Ms. Casey stated that water quality regulations are in place but the proposed language is a health regulation that would require a lot more than simply looking at the water quality. It requires that prior to a certificate of occupancy being granted, a variety of tests would have to be performed on the well water. These tests would be made available to the Health Officer and the prospective home buyer. The builder would have to file for a well permit which would contain all of the necessary information on a particular well. Ms. Casey stated that the water problems occurring on Irene Drive are due to its proximity to the wetlands. She explained that one of the benefits of the wetlands is that it filters contaminants out of the ground water. This proposed regulation would also allow the town to alert potential well drillers about this problem. Ms. Casey noted that this will have nothing to do with the subdivision regulations as it will be a health regulation which the Board of Selectmen would enact.
Mr. Scanzani stated that this is an approved plan and the board is now making a change to the roadway. He asked Mr. Zohdi if there is a reason why the cul de sac on Robin Road cannot be extended and form a loop. Mr. Zohdi explained that when you increase the paved surface (400 more ft.) you increase the impact on the wetlands. If the area is left “natural”, there is less impact on the wetlands. The roadway has been designed to allow for minimum impact to the wetlands. Mr. Scanzani believes that traffic would be alleviated with a loop formation for the proposed 12 homes. Ms. Hennessey explained that any additional road surface would effect the wetlands because the velocity of the drainage would be increased.
Mr. Gowan asked if the language proposed by Ms. Casey’s document refers to a “standard” that a motion could include. Ms. Casey explained that the State does not mandate or regulate private wells. Mr. Gowan asked if there were a “water quality guideline” that could be utilized. Mr. Scanzani explained that the State test determines potability. Mr. Zohdi explained that if this issue is decided on tonight, all future building permits would have to comply with the regulation. He stated that the Board of Health is the highest board in Pelham and any regulations adopted would require all future building permits to comply. Mr. Messina stated that there would be no “grandfathering”.
Mr. Culbert explained that any problems with a private well would represent a civil action to the well driller. The Planning Board has no jurisdiction over private wells.
Mr. Zohdi agrees with the proposed water regulations and noted that many surrounding towns have similar language.
MOTION: (Culbert/DeLuca) To approve the original plan with a through road to Noela Avenue subject to 1) a road width of 22 ft. on Honey Lane from Station 800 to Station 1200 as shown on the road profile; 2) developer places sufficient funds in the road bond for off site improvements for signage as recommended in the traffic study and that 3) the radius of the intersection of Noela Avenue and Marsh Road be able to handle a school bus.
Mr. Soby feels that the board is “trying to take two wrongs and make a right”. He appreciates the input of the Highway Safety Committee but he believes that the board is moving too fast. The impact of Honey Lane on Noela and Marsh Road has not been studied enough to make this proposed design change. Mr. Soby takes exception to the way that this has come about. He understands all of the issues but feels that no matter which way he votes, there will be issues to be dealt with. Mr. Gowan stated that the plan has gone too far and the board cannot go back at this time. He does not believe that the board was rushed through this.
Mr. Messina stated that the traffic study has been available for review and comment for seven months. He further noted that the traffic study is an unbiased document that has been prepared by professionals.
Mr. Culbert stated that according to the reports of the professionals, this design is adequate and there will be more of a safety issue if not done this way.
Mr. Scanzani stated that the length of the original cul de sac of Irene Drive “forced the board’s hand”. He feels that the requested waiver for Robin Road to a 900 ft. cul de sac has no way to go. Mr. Scanzani understands the impact to the wetlands if this road is connected but pointed out that the Master Plan calls for connecting roads. No vote taken by the board tonight will satisfy all involved.
Ms. Casey sympathizes with the residents of Irene Drive and Noela Avenue. She would not want to have a gated fire lane if she lived on Robin Road nor would she want the traffic if she lived on Noela Avenue. Ms. Casey asked that the board consider the recommendations of the Highway Safety Committee.
Mr. Gowan believes that the traffic study recommended additional signage at the corner of Noela Avenue and Marsh Road.
Mr. Culbert amended his motion with the following:
“2) That the developer put sufficient funds into the road bond for off site improvements for signage as recommended in the traffic study.”
Mr. DeLuca amended his second.
VOICE VOTE: Mr. Gowan – Yes; Mr. Culbert – Yes; Mr. DeLuca – Yes; Mr. Danevich – Yes; Mr. Soby – No; Ms. Casey – Abstain; Mr. Scanzani – Abstain. The motion carries.
The Chairman declared a five minute recess at 10:10 pm.
Mr. Soby left the meeting.
Future Changes – Subdivision Regulations
Mr. Messina explained that it is apparent that many things have changed over the past years relative to the subdivision and site plan regulations which are no longer “in sync”. The RSA’s have changed over the past year and the regulations need to be modified and updated to comply.
Mr. Messina submitted the following list of proposed issues for possible change to the subdivision and site regulations:
Rules and Regulations Governing the Subdivision of Land – Chapter 260
Section IV GENERAL – E. Septic Systems and Water Supply
Paragraph 1. Require water quality testing
Paragraph 2. Well protection radius needs clear definition
Section V PROCEDURE FOR THE SUBMISSION AND APPROVAL OF PLANS
Must conform to changes in the RSA’s.
Section XII SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS – A
Must require, in addition to paper, all plats to be provided in electronic form.
Section XII DESIGN STANDARDS
Paragraph 1. A. STREETS / Sub. 1. Location – d. Length of permanent cul de sac should be re-addressed.
Paragraph 1. A. STREETS / Sub. 3. Width of road cross sections should be considered for various service levels.
Paragraph 3. B. SIZES All lot sizing criteria must be re-addressed.
Paragraph 3. D. WATER SUPPLY Water quality issue must be re-addressed.
Site Plan Review – Chapter 248
In general, Chapter 248 should be reviewed and revised in light of the changes in the RSA’s , N.H. Water Supply & Pollution Control Commission, Administrative Rulings and the Town’s Zoning Ordinance in order to insure non-conflicting requirements.
Mr. Gowan recommended that the architectural guidelines be reviewed and any part that does not conflict with zoning be added to the regulations. He further requested that the language be reviewed and modified to make it “self amending” in order to avoid future conflict.
Mr. Danevich recommended that the board take another look at the elderly housing language.
Mr. Scanzani suggested that the water quality testing regulation include “flow and recovery”. He referred to the submitted well ordinance document and recommended that the regulation include a more comprehensive test standard. Mr. Scanzani further requested that radon tests also be conducted and tracked.
Ms. Casey explained that the document does not regulate private wells, it is designed to provide knowledge and information to the homeowner. She cautioned that the board not get involved with regulating private wells.
Mr. Culbert suggested that the site plan regulations include language to deal with a specific fine amount per day for wetlands violations.
Mr. Scanzani would also like to review road design regulations. He feels that the board has an obligation to look closely at the Master Plan and that they do not have a responsibility to allow the developer to maximize their profits.
The following parcel was scheduled for a site walk on Saturday, April 29th at 8:00 am.
ML 1-57 -Whittaker, Barbara/9 Mammoth Road – Proposed 6 Lot Subdivision
PLANNING DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. Messina passed out copies of “Grandfathered – Law of Nonconforming Uses & Vested Rights” authored by Bernie Waugh for review.
MOTION: (Danevich/Scanzani) To accept the minutes of the April 3, 2000 board meeting as amended.
VOTE: (6 – 0 – 0) The motion carries.
Request for Non-Public Session per RSA 91-A:3, II, c Personnel and Legal Reasons
MOTION: ( Scanzani/Casey) To enter into non public session per RSA 91-A:3, II, c for personnel and legal reasons.
VOICE VOTE: Mr. Gowan – Yes; Mr. Culbert – Yes; Mr. Danevich – Yes; Mr. DeLuca – Yes; Mr. Scanzani – Yes; Ms. Casey – Yes;
The board returned to public session at
A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at
Susan J. Tesch