CHESTER – The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) is again rehearing Roger C. Garrett’s petition to develop a small piece of wet land at the intersection of Birch and Candia roads. The matter has already made its way through the ZBA’s files twice, each time turned down.
But the plan will again be reheard as it has changed slightly and Garrett is still looking to build on the parcel.
The hearing began Tuesday, April 15. Garrett was represented by attorney John Cronin and engineer Eric Mitchell.
They seek a special exception because the planned home and septic system do not meet the requirements of the town’s Wetlands Conservation District. They also seek four variances: to allow the septic system within the 40-foot front setback, to allow a well closer than 100 feet from the septic, to allow a home to be built on a lot less than 2 acres (the lot is 1.25 acres), and to allow construction on a lot that cannot contain a 200-foot circle, as mandated by the town’s regulations.
The matters have all been reviewed in depth before by the ZBA and arguments from Mitchell and Cronin were found lacking by the board. Of primary concern is the general wetness of the property and how wetland impact will affect the potential future owner and community.
Conservation commission chair Chuck Myette spoke during the meeting to point out areas of concern the commission had with construction at that site. Myette noted concern with how additional runoff and the septic may affect the area. He noted the tendency for standing water to exist on the property during much of the year. Myette also said future homeowners may further impact the area, even if the developer follows strict plans on mitigating wetland impact.
Mitchell explained how infiltration trenches and other construction techniques can be used to reduce stormwater runoff from the construction of impervious surfaces.
The home as planned would not have a typical basement and Mitchell explained how the construction is planned to sidestep that.
There was disagreement from ZBA chair Billie Maloney on which variances were needed for the work, a matter she has brought up in past discussions. Maloney argued that the developer will also need to abide by a 75-foot buffer between the septic and delineated wetlands.
Cronin argued that they were applying for variances for all of the issues given to them by the town’s building inspector, as he was the one who controlled that aspect. He argued that they may need to come back for another variance, but that they were following the correct process as laid out by the town’s regulations.
“That doesn’t eliminate your responsibility to comply with our zoning,” said ZBA member Cass Buckley.
“I think the law says otherwise,” Cronin responded.
Cronin also argued that because of the way the town’s special exception regulation is written, if it is granted the development does not need approval for any of the variance requests, as the special exception supersedes them.
The ZBA also sought more information on how the septic system planned for the lot, a different type than the typical pipe and stone construction, functions.
The board continued the hearing until May 20, giving time for further review by the conservation commission and for additional information to come from Garrett.
In other ZBA news:
• The board also heard and continued a special exception and variance requests from Nina St. Pierre through Kevin Hatch of Cornerstone Survey Associates.
St. Pierre is looking to develop a lot behind her home on Pheasant Run Drive but to do so would need a special exception, as construction does not meet the requirements of the Wetlands Conservation District. Variances are requested to locate the septic within 50 feet of a wetland when 75 feet is required, and to allow a single family home to be 50 feet from a wetland and a deck 40 feet from the wetland when 75 feet is required.
Hatch said St. Pierre and her husband purchased the property decades ago as a nest egg but that wetlands rules had changed in that time to force the need for relief. Hatch argued that the crux of the problem is the existence of a man-made drainage trench that he said never would have been contemplated as a wetland when the lot was purchased. Now it is.
Hatch argued that the community determined through its Wetlands Conservation District that protecting wetlands was a good thing to do, but that the Special Exception was needed in cases like this one to provide relief to property owners who owned existing lots. He framed it as a safeguard of private property rights.
The plan as presented seeks to balance the impact on both the forested wetland and the drainage ditch, said Hatch.