Members present: Terry Silverman, Robin Blais, Rick Brackett, Suzanne Gray, Mac Landy and Carlotta Pini.
Others present: Carol Ogilvie, planning consultant, abutters, members of the public
Call to Order: 7:05 PM.
7:00 PM Appointment: Carol Ogilvie to present final draft of the Population and Housing section of the Master Plan.
Ogilvie explained there is not a lot of additional information in this draft, and she didn’t find any red flags in our zoning regulations indicating barriers to providing affordable housing. She said the numbers look good regarding the amount of affordable housing stock available in town and the town is in compliance with the workforce housing RSA 674:57.
The poverty rate is 3% in Fitzwilliam for families and married couples. It is 9% for people over 65. The elderly population is growing and the population of families with children is declining. This trend is one the Planning Board needs to consider in planning for housing and services. Ogilvie suggested revisiting regulation of accessory apartments. Landy said accessory apartments may add to the rental housing stock, which may alleviate the high cost of other kinds of rental units for young people and the elderly.
She added that there is nothing the Planning Board can do about some of the factors that create obstacles to affordable housing, like costs of construction and materials, fuel costs for commuting, cost of land, and on-site water and sewage disposal systems.
Pini questioned the stated number of multiple dwelling units in town. The Census’ American FactFinder indicates 42 buildings with 3-4 units, 57 buildings with 5-9 units, and 7 buildings with 20 or more units. Staff and Ogilvie will work to clarify this information using updated tax parcel data available from the Assessing Office.
Gray commented on the 1% of people who use public transportation. Pini suggested some may drive to Leominster and take the train to Boston. Ogilvie commented that this census data doesn’t tell us where people go to work, only that it takes them an average of 29 minutes to commute there.
Ogilvie said the calculations for eligibility for workforce housing does not take into account the cost of fuel for transportation if you commute to work, the amount of debt a household carries, how much of a down payment was paid. This is a flaw in the calculator, but it is what we have.
Ogilvie noted the Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) population projections seem to be high, and the actual population changes may better indicate the trend. She added there is no data yet that lets us know where the population growth comes from. With the new way the Census is collecting data, new data of some sort will be available every year. Ogilvie will make adjustments in the final draft and will return in September.
Minutes. The Board reviewed minutes of the August 2, 2011 meeting. Silverman moved, Brackett seconded and the Board approved the minutes as written. (A typo was corrected.)
7:30 PM Public hearing: Stacey Guyette application for a site plan review to open and operate The Meating Place Deli and Grocery in the former State Liquor Store on the corner of Route 12 and Route 119, Map 34, Lot 2-1, General Business District.
The Board reviewed the application and interior drawings. The exterior plans were approved last year when Mr. Keilig, the building owner, was planning for changes in his building in preparation for the phase out of State Liquor stores. Mr. Guyette indicated that several state inspections were pending once the interior was built out, including plumbing, electrical, fire, and Board of Health inspections. Silverman asked where smoke alarms and interior safety lighting was located. Mr. Guyette said some is indicated on the plan but other items will be added as the interior plan itself finalizes. Mr. Keilig created a list of necessary items to be installed, which is on the plan.
Mr. Keilig indicated that two of the three lights on the west side of the building were on switches, operated from inside the building, and one is on a motion detector. All of the exterior lighting is directed downward. There will be no changes to the parking area, which will be gravel. He plans to move forward with this plan as soon as Mr. Guyette has approval.
Pini asked if there will be grocery carts. Mr. Guyette said yes, a few, but primarily hand baskets will be used. Bathrooms are for employees only. Deliveries will be made to the rear of the building, with the biggest scheduled for Tuesday, mid-day usually. Deliveries will be spread out over the week and both small and large trucks will be making these deliveries. Mr. Guyette thought it was doubtful that deliveries would be made early in the morning, but it depended on the trucking schedules. There is adequate space for trucks to make turns behind the building.
They intend to remove the roof sign and place a wall sign on the side of the building instead. One free standing sign is planned for the Route 119 side. This sign is below grade and should not interfere with the line of sight exiting the site.
Silverman asked for public comment. Don Moulton remarked that he was in favor of the project. Lucia Bequaert asked about the scope of the business. Mr. Guyette said there will be limited beer and wine, newspapers, fresh produce, groceries, with the emphasis on fresh cut meat and deli items. Pini noted the Board has no jurisdiction over what is stocked in the store, but a retail business is appropriate at this site. She said it sounds like this business is exactly the kind of business Mr. Keilig had in mind when his exterior site plan was approved in March 2010.
Pini moved, Landy seconded and the Board accepted the application as complete.
Pini moved, Landy seconded and the Board approved the site plan, specifying that the exterior site plan approved in March 2010 is followed, and that signage is approved by the Board of Selectmen.
7:45 PM Preliminary consultation: Tracie Smith to discuss a two-lot subdivision of property located at 72 Jaffrey Road, Map 15, Lot 52-1, Rural District.
Ms. Smith owns a farm with a conservation easement held by the Monadnock Conservancy. The Conservancy has agreed to exchange the original building lot, which was excluded from the easement for her use, with another that may meet the Town’s subdivision requirements. The Conservancy’s interest is in maintaining contiguity of the easement and the new lot would use land whose conservation value is less than the original lot.
The farm has one permanent dwelling unit on it now and Tracie hopes to build a home for herself in a more private area than the current one, which would serve as the dwelling for the farm manager when Tracie is able to build the other dwelling. Other structures on the property include a temporary unit for seasonal help, barn, several temporary greenhouses and a shed.
Fitzwilliam zoning does not allow more than one dwelling unit on a lot. Tracie approached the Planning Board in March 2011 in hopes of subdividing the excluded lot from the rest of the property. However, the proposed house lot did not have frontage and Board cannot create a lot under traditional subdivision regulations without frontage. The farm lot includes 18.9 acres of land with 878 feet of frontage but the proposed lot was a back lot. The proposed access would have necessitated crossing wetlands.
At this meeting, the Board discussed possible options for subdividing the new lot from the rest of the farm lot. They discussed a traditional subdivision and a cluster subdivision. Because the new lot is also landlocked, a traditional subdivision creating a hammerhead lot requiring a fifty foot frontage might work, but this option is apparently incompatible with the conditions of the conservation easement. The cluster option may work, depending on several factors.
Regardless of how a subdivision is accomplished creating one new lot, both it and the remaining lot will be under deed restrictions to be sold as one lot. The Conservancy has agreed to swap the original building lot, discussed in March 2011, with a different parcel, which is accessible from the existing farm driveway/road. The new parcel is directly behind the existing dwelling, concentrating development, leaving the remaining land intact.
The cluster option with two dwellings may be a workable solution in keeping with the goals of the Cluster Ordinance, which “…is to encourage the preservation of common land for conservation, agriculture, open space and recreational use…” and “to promote better utilization of land in harmony with its natural features and with the general intent of this chapter through a greater flexibility in design…” Further the cluster option uses the entire frontage in determining the number of lots to be subdivided.
Planning Board member Rick Brackett, who works for the Monadnock Conservancy, said he would recuse himself from any decision making regarding this case. He noted that the easement itself cannot be subdivided.
The Board discussed access under the Cluster ordinance and flexibility in applying the regulation.
Following a lengthy discussion of the issues, Silverman pointed out the Board is not charged with making the decision about design options; the Board has made suggestions and now Tracie can work with a surveyor and bring the Board a plan that meets the Town’s subdivision requirements or the Town’s Cluster Development Overlay District standards.
The Board adjourned at 8:40 PM.