CHICHESTER BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT MINUTES
JUNE 29, 2005
Case # 180 Douglas Briggs, POA for Chester Briggs requesting an area variance to Article III, Section P-wetlands for a lot line adjustment on Map 9 Lots 74, 75 & 63.
Due to business dealings Chairman Ed Meehan has had with the clients he has decided to requese himself for this case. Vice Chairman Mark McIntosh will chair the public hearing.
Members Present: Mark McIntosh, Jeff Jordan, Stephen MacCleery, David Dobson.
Applicant Douglas Briggs as well as abutters Kelly Dunn and Eric Coriaty were present.
Mr. Briggs stated that this property was subdivided by a developer years ago. He presented plans to the board, which are on file, marked exhibit A, B & C. Lot 74 currently has 3.2 acres and will still have 3.2 acres after the lot line adjustment. He would like the lot line to be put back in its original state with the stone walls being used as the boundaries. He stated that he was not subdividing the property only reshaping it. Boundary lines will be moved on lots 74, 75 & 63. The cattle lane and stone walls will remain intact. This proposal was brought before the Planning Board, they deliberated and then found there were wetlands possibly being affected and they said a soil scientist would need to delineate wetlands. The cost of a soil scientist stamp is around
$1700 plus the cost of putting in boundary markers. The wetland is not on the parcel 74 which is being sold. The wetlands are located on lot 63 that has 32.8 acres and a house already on it. The PB sympathized with his case but referred him to the BOA for a variance.
The BOA gave notice to the PB about this public hearing for their input but none was received nor were any PB members in attendance.
Mr. Briggs’ intent is to make this a more attractive lot. The wetlands drain in the opposite direction from lot 74.
Abutters were concerned with rumors about a future subdivision and more house lots going into this area. It was explained that as the lots sit now each would have to meet the minimum requirements for road frontage and lot size. It is possible that the land could be developed with a road and 5 or 6 more houses. Mr. Briggs stated that at this time there are no plans to make any further changes other than this lot line adjustment. He further stated that the PB would approve this plan as long as there was a wetland scientist stamp or a waiver from the BOA stating he didn’t need one. Mr. Briggs reiterated that the reason he was asking for a lot line adjustment was to use the lovely stonewalls as the boundaries which is not the case now. The lot can be sold and built upon as it sits now.
Steve suggested that the board look at Article III, Section P of the wetland ordinance and clarify that this area variance would be only for part d. Wetlands Identification. The applicant and board were in agreement with this.
The board went through the area variance worksheet-statement of reasons.
Mark feels there would not be a diminution in value of surrounding properties by granting this variance. Jeff said he is familiar with the piece of property and Mr. Briggs’ statement is correct that there is a long distance from the wetlands and this particular piece of property, lot 74. The lot can be sold just as it is so changing the lot line of it wouldn’t affect the surrounding properties. The acreage will remain the same, 3.2 acres.
This would possibly be increasing the property value because some of the historic stone walls will be used as boundaries.
Board feels this would not be contrary to the public interest because nothing basically has changed. The wet area is just a far distance from any of these lot lines it would have no bearing on building on the unbuilt lot. The purpose of the wetland ordinance is to protect ground surface water which pertains to structures. There are no structures within the 100’ buffer.
Jeff asked Mr. Briggs if his intent was to follow the stone walls to make this a prettier lot why didn’t he extend it all the way through to Ring Road. He answered if that were done you could have only one house on lot 63 because of the road frontage and didn’t think it was too much of a burden to have two.
A special condition of the property is that the wet area is 1200’ from any of the lot lines. To the board’s knowledge there are no wetlands on this lot. The wetlands remain in lot 63, hundreds of feet from the proposed lot line adjustment.
The board agrees that the cost of obtaining a stamp of a licensed soil scientist is nearly $2000, which considering that no subdivision is being requested is an excessive expanse. Also the wet area is in excess of 1000’ away from the lot line adjustment.
Jeff was concerned that the main reason for this lot line adjustment is to follow the stone walls and it stops short of doing that. If he really wants to beautify this lot the stone wall should be followed as the boundary all the way to Ring Road. Steve stated that this is already a buildable lot. This seems like an esthetic reason. The issue is not where the boundaries are but where the boundaries are in respect to the wetlands. Substantial justice would be done because of the distance from the wetlands being in excess of approximately 1000’.
This request would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance because there is no structure near the wetlands which was established to protect surface water.
Steve MacCleery motioned to approve the requested area variance to Article III, Section P-d. Wetlands Identification for the following reasons:
1. There would not be a diminution in value of surrounding properties as a result of the granting of this variance because this piece of property could be sold as it is and the acreage is not changing from 3.2 acres. There is a potential for increase property value because some of the historic stone walls are being used as boundaries.
2. The granting of this variance would not be contrary to the public interest because of the nature of lot #63 where the wetlands are located in excess of 1000’ from any of the adjusted lot lines.
3. a. Since the following special conditions of the property make an area variance necessary in order to allow the development as designed, the special condition is the wet area is 1200’ away from lot #74. Wetlands remain in lot #63 which is well away from this lot line adjustment.
b. The same benefit cannot be achieved by some other reasonably feasible method that would not impose an undue financial burden because the cost of obtaining a stamp of a licensed soil scientist is nearly $2000, which considering that no subdivision is being requested is an excessive expense. The wet area is in excess of 1000’ from the lot line adjustment.
4. By granting this variance substantial justice would be done because of the distance from the wetlands being in excess of approximately 1000’.
5. The use contemplated by petitioner as a result of obtaining this variance would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance because there is no structure near the wetlands which were established to protect surface water. There is sufficient distance from the wet area.
David Dobson seconded the motion. Vote was 4-0 in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
Holly MacCleery, Secretary
Chichester Board of Adjustment