CHICHESTER BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 7, 2005
Case # 184 Ronald Wroblewski Map 3 Lot 29A located on Route 4 requesting an area variance to Article III, Section P-wetlands. This public hearing is being continued from 8/10/05.
Members Present: Edward Meehan, Chairman; Stephen MacCleery, ex-offico; Mark McIntosh; Louis Barker; David Dobson; Ben Brown arrived after start of meeting.
Members Voting: Ed; Steve; Mark; Lou; David.
Applicant Ronald Wroblewski & engineer Jeff Burd.
At the previous meeting Jeff Burd was asked to address the Conservation Commission’s comments regarding this proposed project. He has shifted the display area back an additional 10’, showing some proposed clearing which will provide visibility to the trucks that are for sale. The area affected would be around 5600 sq. ft. The plan presented is still a preliminary plan since the final plans will be presented to the Planning Board, but it still addresses the CC’s comments. The drainage will be addressed in the final design. He is proposing trapping the storm water in the corner of the parking lot in a catch basin which will infiltrate into the ground so it is not a direct discharge into the wetlands. The CC has not had an opportunity to look at the plan presented this
evening. They are moving the line back from 50’ to 60’ from the road.
Ronald-I have moved the line 60’ back from the road. I can’t bring it back any further. We are minimizing the wetland impact as much as possible.
Ed-You sell truck bodies?
Ron-Truck body recycling. I have a dealer’s license for selling vehicles. Have been allowed, by the Planning Board, to put 6 trucks with no paving but would like a paved lot for more vehicles. Sign will go up that says “truck sales” and not just bodies.
Lou-Plan doesn’t indicate where the drainage on and off the lot will be. You mentioned rerouting.
Jeff-This is not a final engineered plan. We wanted to get a sense from this board and the wetland board. We are looking at a french basin, catch basin in south easterly corner which will be paved.
Mr. Burd was asked to indicate on the submitted plan where the drainage will be. The finished grade of pavement, drainage erosion control will be on the final plat. Final grades and contours are not on presented plan this evening.
Ron stated that he sells commercial trucks 1 ton and larger. He is not into selling pickups. There will be about 25 trucks in the proposed parking area. He does some selling on consignment. He needs to make the most use of his property and have visibility for his business. The reason parking area is proposed rectangular instead of rounded is because of aesthetics and the amount of area you can use with a rounded parking lot.
Going over the statement of reasons for an area variance.
1. There would/would not be a diminution in value of surrounding properties. Some members felt it would increase the surrounding commercial property values. This is an allowed use, truck sales, in the commercial zone.
2. This variance would/would not be contrary to the public interest. Some felt that the proposed use is an allowed use in the commercial zone with minimal impact to the wetlands. Ben felt that this would be contrary because it encroaches on the 100’ setback but encroaches into the wetlands as well. Ed has a problem with the filling of wetlands even though this is a commercial zone. Lou mentioned in working with the DES you usually have to mitigate, if you disturb an acre of wetland you create an acre of wetland. Steve reminded the board that the Conservation Commission was behind the wetland buffer in the first place and they don’t seem to have a problem with this proposed project. No where in their suggestions does it mention mitigation. Ben feels
that it seems contrary to every position they have taken up to this point. Lou stated that the CC is a non-binding committee where as the BOA is. We need to be looking at the ordinance and possible conditions.
Mark asked about a culvert that goes under Route 4 leading from Ron’s property over to the trailer park and drains down Bean Hill. Mark felt the contour of the property leaning toward Rte. 4 and going under the road. Ron stated that the water travels the other way. He has a culvert under his driveway that flows toward the wetlands.
The board looked at the plan that shows a 15” RCP pipe going under Rte. 4. Ron stated that this culvert had been plugged for about 4 years and the state finally cleaned it out but it doesn’t help much with drainage.
Jeff feels that this impact is justified because of its location and the value of the frontage on Route 4. Ron added that the state doesn’t ask you to mitigate unless you impact at least 10,000 sq. ft. This project was kept less than 10,000 sq. ft. because there really isn’t enough room to mitigate on this property. Ed thinks a person should be able to use their commercial property but still questions the need for so much visibility for this particular business. The setback issue can be flexible but the filling of wetlands, in his opinion, isn’t. It was mentioned that the applicant is probably paying commercial taxes on his entire frontage which includes the wetlands. He could have cleared up to the state right-of-way but has conceded only a partial area. He has
done what the CC has suggested and they saw no problem with this proposed project.
Steve asked the applicant if there would be a problem with rounding the parking area, cutting the trees to get his visibility and have an angled parking area. There would be site distance but not as many trucks could be parked. Ron stated he has rounded the corner off, move the site back and that is what the CC suggested. We are now fulfilling what they wanted 100%.
3. a. Since the following special conditions of the property make an area variance necessary in order to allow the development as designed. Steve felt this was commercial/industrial property with wetlands across the frontage which he is probably paying commercial taxes on.
b. The same benefit cannot be achieved by some other reasonably feasible method that would not impose an undue financial burden. Steve mentioned if the corner were cut off it would probably cost them less money. Ben felt they would have more frontage doing it that way. More trees can be cut for better visibility and a diagonal corner on the parking lot provides increased front line footage therefore, another feasible method could be applied.
Jeff felt that the statement was a matter of opinion.
4. By granting this variance substantial justice would/would not be done. Steve felt justice would be done because this is a commercial lot, frontage is a valuable commodity on a commercial lot and this variance would provide an improved use of the lot. Ed felt that with variations to the variance substantial justice would be done as opposed to what he is asking for now. Ben added that justice would not be done because of the filling in of wetlands.
5. The use contemplated by petitioner as a result of obtaining this variance would/would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance. Ed said if you felt this would allow better commercial use of the property it would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance. Because of the necessity to fill in wetlands it would be contrary.
Ed asked the applicant what he would like to do at this time. Vote on the proposed plan before the BOA or consider changing the plan a bit. Ron felt he could not change his plan any more and wanted to go forward with the proposed plan before the board.
As of yet the state has not gotten back to the applicant regarding his dredge and fill permit.
Mark commented that the applicant has no exposure on the back side of the property, only the front which he can’t expand because of the wetland problem. Ed felt the exposure problem could be taken care of by cutting down more of the trees. Lou feels he needs to have his product within a certain footage from the road. He wants to be 60’ from the highway. Ed said he had walked the property but not too far beyond the stone wall. There was no standing water at the time but it will collect when it rains before it runs off. Ron stated that there is no standing water in the area now. 90% of the time the lot is dry. He is not intending on filling in the whole lot. David added he has already gone back and changed the plan to satisfy the CC and is trying to work with
the board as well.
David Dobson moved to grant the area variance to the revised plan of Map 3 Lot 29A to Article III, Section P. c. Other Setbacks, to approximately 5600 sq. ft. of wetlands. Variance is encroaching on the 100’ buffer as well as filling in wetlands with all necessary state approvals 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 it is an allowed use in the commercial zone.
2. The granting of this variance would not be contrary to the public interest because this is an allowed use in the commercial zone.
3. a. Since the following special conditions of the property make an area variance necessary in order to allow the development as designed; this lot is a commercial/industrial piece of property which contains wetlands. Wetlands in the frontage area in the commercial zone will not allow full utilization of the property as proposed.
b. The same benefit cannot be achieved by some other reasonably feasible method that would not impose an undue financial burden because the wetlands reduce exposure of the owner’s product due to the inability to use frontage on Dover Road for sales and display.
4. By granting this variance substantial justice would be done because this is a commercial lot and frontage is a valuable commodity. This variance would provide an improved use of the lot.
5. The use contemplated by petitioner as a result of obtaining this variance would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance because the proposed plan is a compromise between the intent of the ordinance and optimal use by the petitioner of the commercial road frontage as suggested by the Master Plan.
Motion was seconded by Lou Barker.
DISCUSSION ON THE MOTION
Steve commented that in the Master Plan under commercial/industrial district it states, “this district consists of 1274 acres, includes the areas along Route 4, 9, 202 & 28. This district is designed to encourage business development to increase Chichester’s tax base while concentrating growth along the major transportation corridors.” The Master Plan pushes for commercial growth on Route 4 & 28 but yet the wetland ordinance restricts that use.
There was a concern about allowing an applicant to fill wetlands and in the past this has not been allowed. Is the road frontage and site distance enough to support this case? Each case is based on its merits and the circumstances. It was also mentioned that this lot has an existing business not a proposed one.
VOTE ON THE MOTION
For: David Dobson, Lou Barker, Steve MacCleery, Mark McIntosh
Against: Ed Meehan
Motion carried 4-1.
Holly MacCleery, Secretary