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Board of Adjustment Minutes 01/25/2006
CHICHESTER BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT MINUTES
JANUARY 25, 2006

Case #194 Map 3 Lot 32 Russell R. Abbott/James L. Fedolfi request for an area variance to Article III, Section P.c. to permit building of a structure within the 100’ wetland setback located on Route 4.

Members Present:  Edward Meehan, Chairman; Stephen MacCleery, Ex-Offico; Jeff Jordan; David Dobson; Ben Brown.

Applicant:  Russell & Nancy Abbott, Atlantic Traders Pawn Shop
Abutters:  Doug Hamel, John Parkerson, Mike Robertson

Applicant submitted site plan of proposed project (on file).  Mr. Abbott is in the process of purchasing the Fedolfi property which will be refurbished with a couple of additions.  The only issue with the proposed addition is the encroachment to the wetland buffer.  In area A it is encroaching by 17.3’, in area C it is encroaching by 4.4’, in area B it’s not even 6”.  All we are asking for is a variance from the 100’ wetland setback to an 80’.
There is an existing house on the property and a gravel parking area.  Mr. Abbott is proposing a paved parking lot.  There is presently a tent sitting on a concrete pad which will be eliminated.  
Steve-The area which is already a gravel parking lot, the Planning Board knows you are going to pave it?  
Mr. Abbott-Yes
Steve-They didn’t think changing from a gravel parking lot to a paved parking lot is a change within that buffer?  They did not interpret the paving of that area to be a change?
Mr. Abbott-No.  Not an impact on the buffer.
Steve-That’s strange.  Maybe because it is already a parking lot.
Ed-Basically, they didn’t approve the project because of the two wetland issues.
Mr. Abbott-They did ask if it was going to be paved and the number of parking spaces.  Then the issue of the encroachment of the buildings came up.  There are plans for swales and silt fencing around the wetland area.  He has been before the PB twice with this proposed project for discussion.  He has not gone for his final review.  It was suggested that he could wait and see if the new zoning passed in March or go forward and seek a variance now with the BOA.  He doesn’t feel there is a huge impact beyond what has been done already.  
There is a 20’x98’ concrete pad which will be taken out and a 38’x32’ addition going in.
Ben-Did you consider on the additions placing them so they didn’t encroach on the wetlands?
Mr. Abbott-The issue is length.  I have to adhere to the setback from the state and Route 4, we start to get narrow.  I’m using the existing structure, taking off the second story, trying to work with the structural walls.  Inside this building is a 32x27 concrete garage which I plan to build off from.  The existing house will be staying but the tents will be removed.
Ben-If the change to the wetland ordinance passes in March would a variance be required in order to do this?
Mr. Abbott-We would be within 25’ and not 100’ because this is an intermittent brook.  Between that and the run-off into a culvert we wouldn’t need a variance.
Steve-The PB figured it was a small enough wetland it would have the minimal (25’) impact.  

The board still has concerns that the PB didn’t have concerns with the paved parking area and the wetlands since other businesses have had to get variances for their lots.  The applicant was informed that he may have to come back to this board at a later date to get a variance for his parking lot.

The entrance to this property will have access from Mason Road as Mr. Abbott proposes to temporarily close off the drive way access on Route 4 which sits between the existing house and building.  It became an issue with the PB because it sits right at the top of the hill of a busy 3 lane highway.  What are his options to lessen the impacts of paving in the area?  Grassy swales were suggested.

Mr. Abbott will be going to the PB in Feb.  It was suggested that he ask them specifically about the parking and its impact to the wetland buffer and the need for a variance.

Doug Hamel-If the new ordinance passes will this be acceptable without a variance?

Ben-To the best of our recollection, it would not.

Doug-This sounds like it is 20% closer to the existing wetland buffer if this variance is passed.  Are you setting a precedence?  

Ed-We don’t set precedence.  We go on individual cases and evidence set before us.

Ben-The reason precedence isn’t set by this board is because every case has unique situations to it.

John Parkerson had parking lot lighting concerns which he was told would be addressed at the PB level.

BOARD DISCUSSION

There is already an existing business presently on the property so there wouldn’t be a diminution in value of surrounding property values, the proposed business will increase the property value and have no negative impact to surrounding properties.

The property is in the commercial zone and the proposed use will be similar to its neighbors therefore, the granting of this variance would not be contrary to the public interest.  The gravel driveway that is already there is an existing impact and putting a building into part of it doesn’t impact it further.  The expansion of an already existing business within the commercial/industrial zone and the proposed use is an allowed use in this zone.  There would be minimal impact to wetlands.
The following special conditions of the property make an area variance necessary in order to allow the development as designed; a gravel driveway currently on the property, structural walls within the existing building which can’t be moved, the building is being expanded into an already existing parking area with a concrete slab, building is replacing a concrete pad.  There is a 13’ area between the existing building and the tent that is dirt.  More concrete is being dug up than is going back in.  
The footprint of the proposed building is significantly smaller than the footprint of the existing concrete pad in the wetland setback.

Ed wanted to address again the issue of the access onto this property from Route 4.  Mr. Abbott said he was temporarily blocking it off for now but would be talking with Div. V about having the curb cut moved westerly down the hill.  He does not want to give up his Route 4 driveway access permanently.  The house that is currently on the property, an employee will be living in.  No other members were in favor of putting a stipulation on the driveway access from Route 4 between the two existing buildings.

The same benefit cannot be achieved by some other reasonably feasible method that would not impose an undue financial burden because the proposed rear addition can’t be slid out of the wetland setback because it aligns with the interior walls of the existing building.  The side addition can’t be slid out of the wetland setback because it conflicts with the setback from Route 4.

Substantial justice would be done because the proposed additions would allow for the reasonable expansion of an existing commercial property.

The use would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance because the footprint of the proposed building is significantly smaller than the footprint of the existing concrete pad in the wetland setback and there would be minimal impact to the wetlands.

MOTION

Steve MacCleery moved to grant an area variance to Map 3 Lot 32 requested by Russell R. Abbott/James L. Fedolfi, to Article III, Section P.c. to permit building of a structure within the 100’ wetland setback located on Route 4, 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 there is already an existing business presently on the property and the proposed business will increase the property value and have no negative impact to surrounding properties.
2.  The granting of this variance would not be contrary to the public interest because the property is in the commercial zone and the proposed use will be similar to its neighbors, and because of the expansion of an already existing business within the commercial/
industrial zone.  The proposed use is allowed in this zone and there would be minimal impact to the wetlands.
3. a. Since the following special conditions of the property make an area variance necessary in order to allow the development as designed; a gravel driveway is currently on the property, structural walls within the existing building which can’t be moved, and the footprint of the proposed building is significantly smaller than the footprint of the existing concrete pad in the wetland setback.
 b. The same benefit cannot be achieved by some other reasonably feasible method that would not impose an undue financial burden because the proposed rear addition can’t be slid out of the wetland setback because it aligns with the interior walls of the existing building.  The side addition can’t be slid out of the wetland setback because it conflicts with the setback from Route 4.
4.  By granting this variance substantial justice would be done because the proposed additions would allow for the reasonable expansion of an existing commercial property.
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 footprint of the proposed building is significantly smaller than the footprint of the existing concrete pad in the wetland setback and there would be minimal impact to the wetlands.

Motion was seconded by Jeff Jordan.

VOTE ON MOTION

Ben Brown – Yes
Jeff Jordan – Yes
Ed Meehan – Yes
Steve MacCleery – Yes
David Dobson – Yes

Motion carried 5 – 0.

Respectfully submitted,



Holly MacCleery, Secretary
Chichester Board of Adjustment




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