HAMPSTEAD – A hearing before the Planning Board on a request from Scott Lancaster for subdivision of 4-plus acres on Lighthouse Lane (Estee Road) was continued Monday night to the May 5 meeting. It had previously been continued from the March Planning Board meeting.
The case involves a request by Lancaster for a subdivision of the acreage, which has more than 1,000 feet of frontage on Lighthouse Lane, a one-lane dirt road. The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) denied Lancaster’s original request for a variance to do the subdivision, and Lancaster went to court, where the Zoning Board’s denial was reversed.
The court ruled that Lancaster’s variance should have been granted, called the ZBA denial “unreasonable,” and stated, “Obviously any construction of any building on the new lot to be created will have to be overseen and approved by the Hampstead Planning Board.”
The issue of the road was the only subject of the ZBA hearing and therefore the sole subject of the court decision. The concern of the ZBA and now the Planning Board is the safety issue posed by the narrow, dirt road. The road is too narrow for two vehicles to pass without one pulling off the road or backing up.
The court decision indicated that the Hampstead Fire and Police Departments had no issue with the road as it exists.
However, Deputy Hampstead Fire Chief Will Warnock arrived at the Monday hearing after seeing it aired on cable and clarified the department’s position. The road for existing dwellings is not something the Fire Department has any power to do anything about, but he termed it a challenge and a safety concern.
“It is what it is,” he said, but added that new construction is a different question and requires new standards be met. Thus the subdivision of the acreage to create a new building lot would require access to that lot by a road that meets new National Fire Code road requirements, in this case a roadway 20 feet wide and sufficient to support heavy fire equipment.
The current road is an easement across Bill Keating’s land and is bordered on one side by land owned by Richard Atwood, neither of whom are willing to allow any widening of the present roadway. Lancaster said he is willing to improve the road to the standards required but can only do so on his property, which would still leave a 200-foot-plus stretch of roadway unimproved.
Planning Board member Neil Emerson suggested Lancaster work with the Hampstead Fire Department on a compromise to satisfy safety concerns. He suggested that any dwelling constructed on the new parcel have sprinklers and that the road be improved on Lancaster’s property and the driveway constructed to meet the new width and weight requirements.
James Lavelle of Lavelle Associates, representing Lancaster, asked for the continuance so he and Lancaster could work with the Fire Department on a compromise and amend the site plan. Member Paul Carideo, who as vice chairman was running the meeting prior to board reorganization, scheduled a site walk of the road for Saturday, April 26, at 9 a.m.
The board voted to approve the continuance, and both Keating and Atwood said they intended to contact their attorneys regarding the road issue.
The road issue – its width, condition and accessibility for emergency equipment – will be discussed again when the Planning Board takes up the case May 5.
In other business:
• A subdivision on Brickett’s Mill Road was presented on a preliminary basis. The plan is to subdivide the 5.6 acre parcel housing a commercial building to create a 1.9 acre residential lot. The frontage requirements are met but there are concerns over existing drainage and culvert issues. The board asked that the easements around the drainage culvert and the fire pond be calculated and added to the plan.
The 1.9 acre parcel would be in commercial and residential areas and the dwelling must be constructed in the residential zone portion.
The board took jurisdiction of the plan and continued the hearing to May 5.
• The board addressed the lot merger request of Robert and Arline Trask at 191 Mills Shore Road. They own the two parcels, which are separated by Mills Shore Road but are connected underneath the road by their septic system. The board voted unanimously to allow the consolidation of the two lots.
• The board reorganized, resulting from the resignation of long-time member Randy Clark, who was the chairman. Carideo was unanimously approved as chairman. The board also approved Emerson as vice chairman.