Town of Warner Ė Zoning Board of Adjustment
Minutes of the Meeting and Public Hearing
Wednesday, March 8, 2006 7:00 PM
Warner Town Hall, Lower Meeting Room
Members Present: Martha Mical, Kenneth Klinedinst, Joanne Hinnendael, Evie Joss
Members Absent: Martha Thoits
Alternates Present: Dennis Barnard, Eric Rodgers
Alternates Absent: None
Presiding: Martha Mical
Recording: Sissy Brown
A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes of the December 14, 2005 ZBA meeting as submitted. The motion passed by a unanimous vote.
IV. New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC: Special Exception and Variance
Mr. Roelofs walked through the application step by step and gave an overview of what is included within the application packet. He stated that whether or not they require a variance for the tree cutting area/area of the leased land for the tower depends on the Townís interpretation of that specific provision in the ordinance and the limits to their ability to clear trees for the equipment compound and the tower. He asked that they think about it before the next meeting.
Ms. Mical: It would depend on how many trees you plan on cutting.
Mr. Roelofs: Thatís right.
Ms. Mical: You need to tell us that.
Mr. Roelofs showed plans showing the distances from existing buildings and abutters. The facility is 1285 feet from Waldron Hill Rd., 226 feet from the closest property boundary which is owned by the same owner, Mr. Solomon. It is several hundred feet from property owned by other persons. Access road is being bent to minimize visibility that has to be cleared, and to minimize the trees that have to be removed. He asked if the Board is asking for an exact tree count that will be cut.
Ms. Joss: What is the distance of the access drive?
Mr. Roelofs: It if were a straight line, it would be 1285 feet from Waldron Hill Rd. The access road is probably a little longer because it bends to get to the tower.
Mr. Roelofs said that the ordinance qualifies the requirement of no cutting of trees within the 200 foot area around the tower by saying it means tree cutting beyond the absolute minimum necessary, and he believes that they fall into that category and donít need a variance.
Mr. Roelofs discussed the camouflaged area. He said that after the balloon test is done and they provide more topography of the area and more view shed analysis, they would be in a better position to define what is meant by the camouflage area. "At that time, we will be able to discuss what legal capacity we have or what the property owner may be willing to do to ensure that there are appropriate limitations on tree cutting in that area."
Mr. Roelofs went on to a discussion of ridge line and what it means. The Boardís interpretation of the definition of the nearest ridge line would enable the applicant to know if they comply with the ordinance. He stated that there are a lot of ridge lines that are much higher than the top of the tower.
He said that through the design and the location of the proposed facility, he feels that the company can provide a design that minimizes the impact of the facility and will also provide better services to the town. There is a significant gap in coverage for Cingular.
Mr. Roelofs turned to the radio frequency information. He showed propagation plots to the Board, showing existing coverage and proposed coverage with the new tower. He explained that on the plans, the number of array antennas on each tower is represented by the number of triangles on that tower, and the MCT tower has a circle representing a whip antenna and not an array.
Ms. Mical: The proposed antennas on the Kearsarge tower wonít cover the I-89 gap?
Mr. Roelofs: Thatís right.
Mr. Roelofs said that he wanted to be sure that they donít forget to schedule the balloon test because it needs to be done in order to comply with the ordinance requiring a view shed analysis.
Ms. Mical: What about building the Kelly Hill tower? I realize that it hasnít been built yet, but it has been approved.
Mr. Roelofs: Thatís the American tower, I believe. Jonathan has spent a lot of time with American trying to get them to build that tower. They wonít commit to building it. He has also worked with the town to try to get them to build it. It is a tower that is not available.
Ms. Mical: Have you approached the property owner to see if that lease can be gotten out of so that you could build that tower?
Jonathan McNeal: I have spoken with Mr. Kirchner on a number of occasions. He is receiving lease payments from IWO, which is a Sprint affiliate Ė itís not American Tower. So I donít think he has any incentive to get out of that lease. As you know, we were approved to go on that site in July of 2003. Iíve been working with IWO to build the tower, to assign it to us or to a tower company to build it, and they havenít done any of those things. So for our purposes, itís not available.
Ms. Hinnendael: What about the other tower at Exit 9? Was that one the same company?
Mr. McNeal: Yes.
Ms. Mical: And he said earlier, it wouldnít cover the gap that the Waldron Hill tower will.
Ms. Joss: In those coverage gaps, how many people arenít getting service?
Mr. Roelofs: There is significant traffic along the highway, and it is a 2 mile stretch that weíre not providing adequate coverage for. But Iím sure that the court would agree with us in saying that that is a significant gap due to the heavy traffic volume as well as the distance.
Ms. Mical: Canít you work with the other companies that do have coverage in those areas where Cingular doesnít?
Mr. Roelofs: If there were coverage by other carriers Ė which Iím sure there is because weíre all on the same towers, even though some might have a little better coverage than others because of their location on the towers Ė but the Federal Communications Act states that a town canít prohibit coverage. What youíre saying is that we wouldnít be because we should use their antennas or arrange something with them.
Ms. Mical: Yes.
Mr. Roelofs: In response to that is basically an anti-discriminatory argument. You would be giving preferential treatment to those facilities that are higher up on those towers or for some other reason have a better signal than we do. By forcing us to pay to use their coverage, you are in essence discriminating. If you disagree with that and ultimately make a decision based on that, I would suggest that you get input from Town Counsel on that.
Mr. McNeal: In the case of Verizon, our technology isnít compatible. Itís not the same as Verizonís.
Mr. Klinedinst: Would it be possible to use video to take photos of the balloon tests, in addition to the photos taken?
Ms. Joss: What would be the benefit?
Mr. Klinedinst: In todayís technology, I think you could get a better representation.
Mr. Roelofs: If there are any particular location from which you want pictures, let us know. We would be willing to use video, although weíve never been asked to do that before.
Mr. Mical: I definitely want pictures, too.
Ms. Hinnendael stated that she would like to have the tower location superimposed on the photos showing where it would be. Mr. Roelofs said that they could superimpose the tower at the height of where the balloon is, and then based upon that we can at least identify the area on the photograph where the tower will be.
Ms. Hinnendael: Hereís why Ė if you cut the trees away and youíve got 10 pine branches on the top and the bottom is bare, thatís what you see if there are no trees around it.
Mr. Roelofs: I understand what youíre asking for.
[The Board discussed locations from where they want pictures, and the Secretary will communicate them to the applicant prior to the balloon test).
Mr. Klinedinst: Is it worthwhile to do this in the spring/summer, when the vegetation is on the trees?
Mr. Roelofs: We would like to do it when there are no leaves on the trees Ė this is the best time for abutters because there arenít any leaves and it would be more visible now than when the leaves are out.
Ms. Mical: I thought weíd do it within the next month so that they can come back next month.
Mr. Roelofs: I would like to do it within the next 2 weeks.
Ms. Hinnendael: Do you have to cut trees down the entire length of the access road?
The Board discussed where the town road begins and ends in relation to the plan.
Ms. Mical: Part of that road is a Class VI town road. To upgrade a town Class VI road, you need to go to the Board of Selectmen and the Public Works Director. You need to contact them before you can do anything on a Class VI road.
Mr. Roelofs: Weíll start with the Public Works just to see if there is a question on what it actually is.
Ms. Mical: I know what it is Ė I already did the research and I know that itís a Class VI road.
Mr. Roelofs: Thatís fine. If we need to get approval from the Board of Selectmen, weíll get it. Iím not sure if weíre even upgrading the road.
Ms. Mical: Well, even if you cut a tree on that road, you have to have permission.
Mr. Roelofs: Iím not sure we are.
Ms. Hinnendael: This opens up another question. If youíre putting up a building, thatís a building on a Class VI road.
Mr. Roelofs: Let me clarify whatís going on on this drive. Iím going to confirm this.
Ms. Mical: Ok.
Mr. Roelofs: Iím not aware that weíre upgrading the gravel, or Class VI road, thatís currently there. Itís a Class VI road to a certain point.
Mr. Rodgers: It shows that itís going to be 20 feet wide; that, to me, is an upgrade.
Mr. Roelofs: Does it say that somewhere?
Mr. Rodgers referred to the plan.
Mr. Roelofs: Well, maybe we are upgrading. But in addition to that, weíre building a new drive.
Mr. Mical: Right.
Mr. Rodgers: But thatís going to be quite a bit smaller Ė 14 feet wide Ė than the existing road that shows 20 feet wide.
Ms. Hinnendael: Iím thinking about fire, because it is a building up thereÖ
Mr. Rodgers: And it shows propane at the building. Youíd have to be able to get a fire truck up there.
Ms. Hinnendael: Iím talking about if youíre building a road up to something that has a building and a gas tank, then youíve got to upgrade it to a Class V road.
Mr. Rodgers: Whoís going to plow it?
Ms. Mical: We donít have to plow it, even if we made them upgrade it to a Class V road.
Mr. Roelofs: Typically, when we construct these we treat them as private drives. The townís not obligated to maintain it in any capacity, and we maintain it just to the point of being able to access the facility in case we need to. If we had to, because of an emergency, get up there after a snowstorm, we could do so using snowmobiles.
Ms. Mical: Why are you having propane up there?
Mr. Roelofs: To fuel the backup generator and itís only in the event of a power outage.
Ms. Joss: Do you know the height of the surrounding trees?
Mr. Roelofs: Before we really got in tune with the bylaw requirement, the estimate was 78 feet. But I wouldnít want to hold that out as the average tree canopy, being as there is a specific requirement that pertains to that. Weíve moved the tower to be further away from the property boundary and to minimize its visibility. So now weíre away from the trees that we looked at before. So the crew is going back out there again and before the next meeting Iíll have more detailed information.
Ms. Hinnendael: And youíll present a map with that?
Mr. Roelofs: Yes.
Mr. Rodgers: Why do we go forward with a balloon test if we donít even know if a building can be built on the Class VI road? Shouldnít we take this one step at a time?
Mr. Roelofs: Thereís always the question of who goes first, so letís assume that weÖ
Mr. Rodgers: Youíre saying that youíre treating that as a private driveway, because thatís what you typically do. Iím not sure anyone in town cares what you typically do anywhere else, but thatís a Class VI road.
Mr. Roelofs: Iím saying that if we have to go to the Selectmen to get their approval to upgrade that road, then weíre prepared to do that. But I would still like to move this process forward. Obviously, if we need their approval and get your approval but not theirs, we canít build this facility.
Mr. Rodgers: Thatís my point.
Mr. Roelofs: But somebody has to go first.
Ms. Mical: Itís a matter of the chicken or the egg. And itís at their expense if theyíre willing to do it. I donít think that anyone on the Board objects to this. But it was a good question.
Hearing no further discussion, Ms. Mical closed the Board meeting and opened the public hearing. She stated that this hearing would be for people to ask questions that they want answers to, and the answers will be given at the next meeting. She also asked them not to repeat the same question. Ms. Hinnendael added that after the balloon test has been conducted, another public hearing will be held. Ms. Mical said the public hearing would either be continued or another would be held.
Martha Lawton: I live at 59 Waldron Hill Road, and my apartment is at the back end of the building. My first question is about the driveway and the Class VI road, and my second question is what will we hear? When I go up on Mount Kearsarge, I hear a buzzing, whining noise. Thereís a streett from Flanders Road to the bottom driveway and up that street. Is that the road youíre talking about that is a Class VI road?
Ms. Mical: Old Tewksbury Road is the Class VI road. It is the lower entrance to the apartment building, from what Mr. Solomon said at one point. I donít know if thatís what youíre talking about.
Victor Kumin: Abutter to the east. I indicated our particular beliefs about this particular project in a letter to the ZBA, which has not yet been made known to the public yet. Youíve addressed some of the questions raised in the letter, but not all of them. I would appreciate it if you would answer all of the questions that Iíve addressed in the letter. Will other companies be rented space on this tower? Will there be more antennas coming up?
Mr. Roelofs: At the height that weíre proposing, there will be room for one other carrier. Cingular would be at the top.
Mr. Kumin: How many are on the Kearsarge Mt. tower?
Ms. Mical: There is one now Ė US Cellular. If Cingular is approved, there will be two.
Mr. Roelofs: There are numerous antennas on that tower that are not related to these private wireless facilities.
Mr. Kumin: I understand that, but I think I heard at another meeting that there will be no more space available on the Kearsarge Mountain tower for any other antennas?
Mr. Roelofs: I hope I didnít say that, because I donít know. Paul Leary, the representative from the state, might have said something about it reaching its capacity. But Iíll defer to him on that. We donít control that tower, and we donít control the tenants so we havenít evaluated whether there is space on that tower for other carriers. Sometimes you can get creative in your antenna locations, so it may be that there is more space on that tower. But there is nothing in Cingularís script to prevent other towers from locating there.
Joe Mandola, 83 Waldron Hill Road: Is there a possibility if this tower is constructed that there could be more than 2 carriers on this tower? What would the maximum number that you could possibly put on there?
Mr. Roelofs: You can build these to accommodate 5 or 6 carriers. The limitation is the tower versus the tree line because it is a line of sight technology. But at the height that weíre proposing, there would only be room for two carriers Ė us at the top and another carrier the required 10 feet lower, and then youíre hitting the tree line. Sometimes there is the possibility of extending these towers in the future.
Diana Jamison, 83 Waldron Hill Road: I walked the area, I saw the Class VI road, and I think I see where it turns, I see a lot of pink tags in the area. Is that the proposed 200 foot area where the fence would be, or is that something else? Is there a marker where the tower would be? At the 90 degree turn, I see a big orange and black marker on the tree. I donít know what that means.
Mr. Roelofs: I think it was marked at one time, but as we were proposing this weíve changed the location of the tower. It could be the flags that youíre looking at were the previous location. I donít know if it has been flagged. We can mark the tower location when we do the balloon test.
Ms. Jamison: As an abutter, I would like to know where the tower is going to be built.
Mr. Roelofs explained the area where theyíre allowed to cut the trees.
Peter St.James asked if he could come forward and look at the map/plans up close. Ms. Mical said yes.
Dan Fisher, 49 Waldron Hill Road: Iíve done some reading associated with health risks from living in an area with one of these towers. Is there any information available? How often is it monitored? At the proposed level Ė does it stay at a constant level or does it fluctuate?
Mr. Roelofs: We submitted a report prepared by Dr. Haes. Evaluated facility assuming it was cranking at the maximum capacity full time. He calculated what the RF exposure would be at various locations on the ground. I donít have an extra copy, but if youíll give me your address I can mail one to you. He calculates the exposure levels as you are walking away from the tower. If youíre right t the bottom of the tower, thereís a low level of exposure. As you walk away from it, the levels come up a little. At the highest level, the amount that youíre getting is approximately 1% of what the FCC says is the healthy protective standard. Then as you walk further away from it, the levels go down dramatically at first and then gradually from there.
Ms. Jamison: In addition to that, wasnít the person who wrote that report working for Cingular?
Mr. Roelofs: He was paid by Cingular.
Peter St. James: My question has to do with measurements, from the corner of our lot to the structure. My other concern is the change of a Class VI road to a Class V.
Ms. Mical: Is your map to scale?
Mr. Roelofs: Yes, it is.
Martha Lawton: How long until the tower would be built? How long would you be going in and out of that road, and what types of equipment? I was told by Justin Solomon, the landlord, that all of your wires went underground so that there would be no wires on the Waldron Hill property Ė that they would be underground up the driveway and all the way up the road. Did I misunderstand?
Mr. Roelofs: I donít know if you misunderstood him, but what weíre proposing here is to go overhead from Waldron Hill up to the edge of the compound, so overhead all the way up the access drive to the turnaround area, and then from there it would be underground under the fence for security reasons.
Ms. Mical: You might want to clarify that, because the landlord is the property owner.
Mr. McNeal: He has indicated and weíve agreed to go underground to where the new road begins. The existing parking lot and that area would be underground.
Ms. Laughton: You said underground to the existing culvert?
Mr. McNeal: Yes, and then after thatÖ
Mr. Kumin: The letter I sent to the Zoning Board.
Ms. Mical: I have it.
Ms. Mical: I have two letters here from abutters, and I will give copies of both letters to the applicant so that he may address any questions that are in them.
Charles Albano: I was at the Planning Board meeting on Monday when you did the presentation for Kearsarge Mountain. Part of that presentation was three additional microwave 6-foot dishes. From a visual standpoint, weíve followed the history of the mountain over the years. To me, those three dishes Ė as important as they are to you Ė still reflect a visual impact to us. What would the worst case scenario be, visually? How many microwave dishes could you have on towers? From the standpoint of exposure, that would be important. Certain companies go out of business. -- what happens to the tower if you do? What happens if it isnít needed any longer?
Ms. Mical: There is a stipulation in our ordinance for that.
Mr. Albano: And what is the time limit?
Mr. Roelofs read the ordinance regarding the disposal of abandoned towers. It states that there is a bond in place to take care of the removal of a tower should the company responsible not do so. There is no time frame for that, but in another section, the ordinance states that if a tower is not used for a period of 12 months, it is considered abandoned. The tower must be removed by the owner within 90 days of receipt of a declaration of abandonment from the town.
George Pelletieri: Iím curious about the wetlands violations Ė is it major or minor? What type of fencing, what types of materials, will the construction of the building be able to attenuate that noise? Is there any flexibility in the design of the structure Ė the monopine? The requirement for camouflage requires that it blend into the surrounding environment. I know that the companies are making an effort, but there are not pine trees in New Hampshire with the branch structure like the monopine structure that you have in mind. The question was brought up about the types of antennas. The construction sequence would be helpful to help understand the length of time construction takes place, what various types of equipment would be used, the total area of site disturbance, what erosion controls will be in place, and what re-vegetation will take place.
Mr. Roelofs: The monopine that we propose is because the ordinance basically requires it. I agree with you. I think that the least intrusive design is a straight monopole because people see these now and theyíre used to them. People see these monopines and they start talking about it and it draws attention to it. The ordinance refers to the monopine and they define it as camouflaged. And donít forget that itís a tree thatís going to be sticking 20 feet above the trees. If the Board would provide us with a variance to allow us to do a different design, then letís start thinking about that now. Weíre receptive to different designs. We proposed this because it is what the ordinance seemed to require.
Rick Davies: One of my questions is on the monopine. I think that once you get the pictures taken from the various locations, it might make sense to try to figure out a way to camouflage it or make it a different color. There must be some type of technology out there that would allow you to change the appearance of the monopine. I would like to see some research done on that and have you get back to us.
Mr. Roelofs: Are you talking about doing the Christmas tree effect?
Mr. Davies: Yes.
Mr. Roelofs: The problem with that is that unless you want to see the antennas, the branches at the top have to be out enough to cover the antennas. Or the branches at the bottom could be farther out. But then youíre talking about branches that would be 20 feet.
Mr. Davies: From the higher mountains, that might make sense. I donít know. The other point I wanted to make is that we have these pictures of the coverage areas, which are great; weíve seen those with US Cellular, too. Not to say that theyíre not accurate, but we think that it would be appropriate to have an independent organization verify these to see what coverage is actually required versus what is requested on a display like that. There might be a wide disparity as to what is actually needed out there.
Derek Pershouse: I was wondering if you would want to emphasize that many of the questions that are raised tonight are covered in the site plan review process with the Planning Board Ė the issues of the shape of the tower, all of the subtleties in color, etc. are all in a separate section of the ordinance under Site Plan Review Regulations. So this will all come up again if and when this comes to the Planning Board.
Ms. Hinnendael: That was actually going to be one of my comments. One other comment is that the Planning Board did such a great job with the Exit 7 tower, and that is a pine tree, too. Itís hard to see. From the street, you canít see it.
Joe Mandelo: I would have to agree with the gentleman over here. Iíve never been to a Zoning Board meeting in this town before, and it sounds like this is a Planning Board meeting. I thought the central issues were the special exception and variance.
Ms. Mical: It is.
Mr. Mandelo: I havenít heard anything in that regard or anything addressed from my letter.
Ms. Mical: Weíre going to give him your letter so that he can address it at the next meeting.
Mr. Mandelo: In the ZBA meetings Iíve been to before, the issues are brought out so that the public can hear them and then there are pros and cons discussed. It sounds like a Planning Board meeting.
Ms. Mical: Because we will do the balloon test, thatís going to tell us a whole lot more. Let him do his presentation, weíll do the balloon test, weíll go through the conditions for special exceptions and variances.
Mr. Mandelo: But not tonight.
Ms. Mical: No. But let me tell you that he has done that, in the packets weíve received.
Mr. Roelofs: Iím happy to walk through them one by one now or at the next meeting.
Ms. Mical: Last question.
Stacey Keefer: Why canít the phone lines be run to the top of Kearsarge Mt. and not have the microwave dishes, if thatís whatís being done on the Waldron Hill tower?
Mr. McNeal: Have you been up to Kearsarge? I would think that would damage a lot more property than it would mitigate in terms of the microwave dishes. But the state owns the entire area and that is something that is entirely up to them. I know that on Mt. Washington, they proposed putting in fiber optic lines to the top, so at some point Iím sure theyíre going to do that to the top of Kearsarge Mountain, too. And power lines.
Ms. Mical closed the public hearing, stating that she will reopen the public hearing at the next ZBA meeting. She then reopened the Board meeting.
Mr. Klinedinst: You mention dishes Ė but there are no dishes on this tower, right?
Mr. Roelofs: On our plans, you see the 12 antennas that weíre proposing as our wireless antennas Ė the arrays at the top. Thereís an additional antenna that weíre anticipating putting on this tower. The reason for that antenna would be the connection point from the Mt. Kearsarge facility to a hard line. The hard line thatís coming up to the tower. We havenít determined the size of that dish, but certainly not 3 6-foot microwave dishes. It would be a smaller dish. We first need to figure out if we need it, the size, and the location of it. We donít want to put it in a spot that would eliminate a co-locator. So weíll get back to you on that issue prior to the next hearing.
The Board discussed the date for the balloon test. It was set for Saturday, April 1st from 8:00 to 2:00, with a backup date of Wednesday, April 5th from 2:00 Ė 6:00 pm.
Ms. Joss asked what color the balloon would be, and Ms. Mical said it would be red. Ms. Hinnendael said that in the past, applicants have been asked to float one balloon at the tree canopy height, one at the tower height, and another 10 feet higher than the tower height. Ms. Mical said that she wanted a balloon at the tree line, and Mr. Roelofs said that would be a problem because it would be in the trees. It was decided to float 2 balloons: a balloon at the tower height of 100 feet and a second balloon at 110 feet.
Ms. Hinnendael asked if would be possible to walk to the tower site, and it was stated that as long as it would be agreeable to Mr. Solomon, the property owner, it would be ok. Mr. Roelofs said that they would have markers to show the tower location at least by April 1st. Mr. Roelofs said that he would like to have the list of locations from which the Board would like photos by March 29th, and that his partner, Mr. Anderson, would be at the next meeting.
V. V.S, Warner, LLC: Special Exception and Variances
Michael Sullivan described the project and why they want to build it in Warner
Hampton Inn background:
Reason to build in Warner at Exit 9:
History of the project:
Mr. Klinedinst: I used to be a road warrior and Iíve stayed at Hampton Inns and they used to have a happy hour. Is this proposed at this hotel, for guests only?
Mr. Sullivan: Not at this time. Itís not a requirement of Hampton Inns. Market conditions usually dictate that, but we really havenít researched that yet. But it would be for guests only.
Ms. Joss: How is the hotel in Littleton dissimilar from what is proposed in Warner?
Mr. Sullivan: Right now, the only thing that would be dissimilar is the color. This meets our criteria. Weíre waiting for feedback from the Town, and through the process it might change. Weíre not married to this design and we donít have the drawings for this hotel yet, so it could change.
Ms. Mical: You said 88 rooms and some suites Ė how many suites and rooms all together?
Mr. Sullivan: 88 total Ė the floor plan isnít finalized yet, but possibly 20 to 25 suites.
Mr. Klinedinst: I read in the newspaper that youíll have a fitness center that the public would be allowed to join. Is that part of your proposal?
Mr. Sullivan: Yes, weíll be selling memberships with access to the pool and the fitness club.
Ms. Hinnendael: I pulled out the maps in the Charrette and I know we canít be perfect with the Charrette, but I wanted to point out that the Charrette describes a hotel behind the Market Basket area and not on the road next to McDonalds. I know that is your location, though.
Mr. Sullivan: Correct.
Mr. Sevincgil went over the site design that will be handled through the Planning Board Site Plan process. He handed out copies of the plan which supersede what the Board had.
Mr. Klinedinst: How many employees will there be at the hotel?
Mr. Sullivan: There will be 24 paychecks in a pay period, but not all full time. I mentioned that we started out in Concord, and the assistant general manager is from Warner. Her goal is to learn enough in the next year and a half to be the general manager when the Warner location opens.
Harry Wheeler, architect:
Ms. Mical: Is that center cupola really 30 feet tall?
Mr. Wheeler: No. I think we may have been using the wrong term. It is 43 feet to the bottom of the roofline and not the ridgeline. The cupola is approximately 10í 8".
Mr. Sevincgil: went over the plans with the Board, describing the dimensions. He stated that the cupola is basically for looks. Ms. Mical asked about the height of the peak of the roof, and the answer was 8í6".
Mr. Rodgers asked if the Board had received a copy of the letter from Dick Brown, the Fire Chief. Ms. Mical said that her feeling is that when it comes to the issue of height and fire safety issues, the discussion would be continued until the next hearing so that Mr. Brown can be present to answer questions and participate in the discussion.
Ms. Mical: How high is it from the ground to the bottom of the top floor windows on the front of the building?
Mr. Sevincgil: 35 feet.
Ms. Mical: Right, because our ladders will go 30 feet.
Mr. Wheeler: I thought they were 35 feet.
Ms. Mical: Right, but when you lean them up against a building, they will reach 30 feet because you canít put them straight up. You lose 5 feet. Thatís just a heads up for you Ė I have a problem that you canít get people out of those corner top windows.
Mr. Sevincgil: I did discuss this initially with the Fire Chief, and he said that 30 feet is what he can do. He was a little uncomfortable, but he said that he would speak with the Fire Marshal and see what he could do.
Mr. Wheeler: If I may, I havenít spoken with the state inspectors, but under the New Hampshire Safety Fire Code a building with full sprinklers allows windows to not be used for egress for rescue.
Ms. Mical: If itís your mother in that top floor, youíre going to want her out of there.
Ms. Mical: Weíre not going to close the meeting, but there is a lady back there who desperately wants to ask a question.
Janice Rose: Iím an abutter, and I live at 45 Split Rock Road, which is behind the police station. My house is situated up on a hill and it is rather high, and I can see over the police station, and that height very much concerns me. I donít want to look out the back from every window of my house and see a hotel. Thatís not why I purchased the house. I would like to see what my view is going to be.
Mr. Klinedinst: As far as you know, are you the only person on Split Rock that could have a view of the hotel?
Ms. Rose: I believe so, because our house is up on a hill and is the highest point in the neighborhood, and I can see over all of my neighbors.
Ms. Mical stated that one other house might be affected, and Ms. Rose said that there is a lot next to their house so it might not affect them as much.
Mr. Klinedinst: Would it be reasonable to ask these gentlemen to actually go to an abutterís property and superimpose the hotel on a photo?
Mr. Linchris asked for points that the Board would like photos taken from and they will do so. The elevation plan was discussed with the Board. Ms. Mical asked if the elevation of the police station is known, and it was stated that it wasnít shown on the plan.
Mr. Pershouse: I believe that when we had one of the original presentations, the roof is not symmetrical Ė is that correct? Isnít it more of a u-shape? We talked about the view of the mechanicals.
Mr. Wheeler: The front and two sides of the building do have that shape. The rear of the building will have a flat roof except for this gable peak in the middle of the roof. There will be one mechanical unit that weíve located behind this peak. So it will all be masked.
Ms. Mical: Weíre going to get pictures. Due to the fact that weíre not going to make a height issue decision because the Fire Chief is not available, letís move on to one of the ones we can talk about or decide on.
Mr. Bassett: As we said, we did try to contact the chief and work that out, and we fully anticipated that we would need to come back next month for that. It would help to get some clarification of the ordinance which is before us, which is that the 43 foot roofline is the one for which we need the special exception rather than the 75 feet to the top of the cupola, because the ordinance speaks of ornamental areas. So our interpretation was that the 75 foot, while its there, was not subject to a special exception. It has some implications perhaps, for the setback discussions weíll have in a few minutes.
Ms. Mical: Does anyone on the Board have an opinion on the height of the roof and the cupola?
Mr. Rodgers said that the 43 feet should be used, as did Ms. Hinnendael.
Mr. Bassett: Under the ordinance, if it doesnít constitute a hazard to an established airport and is ornamental, then I think it drops from 75 feet to 43 feet.
Ms. Mical: My personal opinion is that lower is better. We do like cupolas, but I think we like less height more.
Mr. Bassett: I understand, and weíll see what we can do.
Ms. Mical: Why donít you start with the variance request for setbacks.
Mr. Bassett: I can do that, but let me just say that again it depends on the interpretation of the Board on whether we even need a variance for the setback requirement. Out of an abundance of caution, we based the setback on the interplay between Section 11 and Section 4, where thereís a discussion on the setback needing to be increased based on each additional foot of height. So we based our request on a 75 foot height requirement. So if, indeed, weíre talking about 43 feet rather than 75 then the setback would be around 48 feet rather than 80. In that case, we probably meet the requirements.
Ms. Mical: I have question. I know that the bottom of the roofline is the 43 feet, but then you said that the real roof is 8 feet tall. Using the 51 foot tall building, do you still fall within the setbacks?
Mr. Sevincgil: It would be 53 feet, so the building setbacks would be increased to 18 feet. The setback is 40 feet around the perimeter + 18 feet. The only area that a variance would be needed for is one corner, which is at 43 feet and 58 would be required.
Ms. Mical: We need to decide which number we are going to use so that theyíll know.
Mr. Rodgers: I think that we need to have a philosophical discussion about it first, it might not matter what the number is. What is the opinion of the Board on giving them the variance for the setback? Do you know what I mean?
Ms. Hinnendael: What if the Fire Chief comes in and says they canít build a 4 story building?
Mr. Rodgers: All he cares about is the height. If we get through some of this other stuff, how far away the property line is from one of the cornersÖ
Mr. Hinnendael: Which is based on the height.
Ms. Mical: Right, but if weíre doing worse case scenario, then if he comes in and says they can only have a 3 story building, theyíre not going to need the variance.
Ms. Hinnendael: So why grant the variance.
Mr. Klinedinst: Why go through the process?
Ms. Mical: Is it the wish of the Board to also put this one off until next time?
Mr. Klinedinst: I think the Fire Chief plays a big role here. By that time we may have the photographs for the lady in Split Rock.
Ms. Mical: OK. Weíre on to the next one. Iím of the opinion that they donít need to come for this. The footprint of the building is less than 20,000 square feet, so they donít need a variance in that department. Is that the opinion of the Board?
Ms. Joss: I agree.
Ms. Mical: Gentlemen, you donít need a variance for the square footage.
Ms. Hinnendael: What is the maximum square footage?
Ms. Mical: The footprint of the building is 15,400+.
Mr. Pelletieri Ė Point of order. The regulation says the sum of the horizontal area of the floor or floors. Sum of the floors.
Ms. Mical: My regulation says the maximum gross floor area for shops, restaurants and other retail service establishments shall be 20,000 square feet. Where more gross floor area is required, multiple buildings may be grouped on the same lot up to a maximum of 40,000 square feet.
Chris Connors Ė Yes, but this is the definition of gross floor area as opposed to building footprint.
Ms. Mical: Whatís the verdict of the Board? What Chris read as the definition of gross floor area is what our ordinance says. Itís the definition that refers to the horizontal reference.
Ms. Hinnendael: So the variance is for 40,000 square feet?
Ms. Mical: Itís a total of 69,020 square feet, for all four floors.
Mr. Klinedinst: Why did you think you had to apply for this?
Mr. Bassett: We made a decision to apply using an abundance of caution in both instances. As I said at the beginning, I questioned it but we didnít want to come here and be told we needed to do something and delay the whole process. Obviously it is a decision of the Board on what we should use as guidance.
Mr. Klinedinst: I think we should retract our original decision. Theyíre going to be back anyway, and we can by then have a good understanding of the definition.
Ms. Mical: Are you suggesting that we get a legal opinion on that definition?
Ms. Joss: If the maximum square footage is 20,000 feet, and one floor is 15,000, that wouldnít be very much of a hotel if the limit is 20,000 square feet. That doesnít make sense.
Mr. Rodgers: It says that 20,000 square feet says that multiple buildings can be grouped on the same lot.
Ms. Joss: But theyíre going to put their hotel all in one building.
Mr. Klinedinst: I think to be on the sure side, we should have a very good understanding for the next meeting as to what our own definition says.
Ms. Mical: Do you want legal counsel on that one?
The Board was in agreement to seek legal counsel.
Mr. Bassett: Weíll be here anyway.
Ms. Mical: So weíve retracted our earlier statement on that variance.
Ms. Mical suggested that questions be taken from the audience so that they could have the answers prepared for the next meeting. The applicants agreed and said that they would like to hear questions.
Ms. Mical closed the Board meeting and opened the public hearing. She stated that it was for the audience members to ask questions that they can research answers for, and asked them not to duplicate their neighborís question. She called for any abutters. Hearing none, she opened the hearing to the audience.
Charlie Goodwin: You speak quite clearly of questions Ė I assume that this isnít the time for public commentary.
Ms. Mical: I would say that at the next meeting, when we actually do the questions for the variances and special exceptions, that would be where your public comment would come in.
Stacey Cooper: What is in the basement? Would it be possible to explore options for better use of the grades of the property?
Mr. Wheeler: There is no basement level. Taken advantage of the grade by putting the pool area, fitness area and mechanical equipment in the area where there isnít any light, and used the other areas for public areas, big breakfast areas and guest rooms.
Ms. Cooper: Would it be possible to put some of the guest rooms in a lower level instead of going up?
Mr. Wheeler: Guest rooms in a hotel require natural light, so thereís no benefit to going below grade because there would be no way of getting light to the guest rooms. That being said, the rear of the building where we donít have light is already being used for mechanical equipment, etc. so there would be nothing to put in an additional basement area if we had one.
Chris Connors: You have an overall change in grade from the back of the lot to the front of the lot of 42 feet. My concern has to do with the height and how it sets into the site and what weíre looking at in addition to the hotel from 103. Iím curious as to the retaining that youíre going to use and how much disturbance youíre creating especially in so far as the abutting residential area in the back. I actually have some samples of some inns that used to be in Warner, and theyíre not the same scale that youíre building, but their facades are broken up by color and to some extent what you have already done Ė just exaggerated a little bit more. I also want to thank you, Michael. Youíve been wonderful as a person trying to develop in this town. Youíve been to many, many meetings and are working as part of a team.
Mr. Sevincgil: As far as retaining, we would be cutting into the hill and stabilizing it with a retaining wall. To maintain access to all around the building, we have to do what weíre doing. If they didnít want access all around the building, we could to right into the hill, I guess. But we need to maintain a thirteen foot difference between first and second floor. Weíre trying to grade within the parameters of the sight. I donít think that there are any abutters within close proximity to our property line, and the road is about 25 Ė 30 feet from the retaining wall, so it wouldnít impact the road. Youíll see the retaining from the back of the hotel, and you might see it from 103, depending on where youíre standing. Itís going to be about a 16 foot wall, with the majority of the wall being behind the hotel. It is quite a ways away and youíd have to be looking for it to see it.
Charlie Goodwin: It would be helpful to the public as well as the Board to get a set of pictures of hotel from the front and sides so you can see the hotel and retaining walls.
Mr. Sevincgil: I think that is really more of a Planning Board issue. We typically donít fully design the drainage and grading for a project until it has been approved by the ZBA. We will present fully engineered plans to the Planning Board.
George Pelletieri: Iím a landscape architect and I was a member of the Charrette design team. I donít specifically have a question but I have a number of comments that I think would be quite useful to the team. I, too, would like to thank them. Theyíve clearly made an effort to listen to both the Charrette and the Corridor Study and they postponed their application with the hope of learning more about the town. I think thatís great. As was pointed out, the idea of a hotel -- people have been very happy about that. It is clear that the area is suitable for a hotel. I think that the devil is in the details and that the questions that weíve heard expressed from the public are in the details. For example, your comment, Martha, about the height of the cupola Ė thatís a double-edged sword. In proportion of the scale of the building, if you put to small of one it looks out of place and I think theyíve done a good job from that point of view. In terms of the Zoning Board, I think a question is regarding the overall scale of this facility on this particular site Ė whether there is enough space on the site to accomplish all of the things that are needed for a facility such as this, which is a great facility. In particular, things like the existing vegetation: that entire corner area is heavily vegetated with large fairly mature trees, most of which are going to be eliminated and the building is going to be essentially taking their place. The idea that has been expressed in the Townís Master Plan and at the Charrette is for development to be in keeping with the character of the town, and the residents have expressed a strong interest in maintaining rural character. Replacing that much green space with mostly impervious area is part of the balancing act that the design team has to address. I think that the color of the building has a lot to do with it. Darker colors tend to recede and blend into the background more. I think that overall the concepts are great and the team coming here is doing a great job, but the details need to be worked out. One last comment Ė some other structures have rooms into the roof area. That might be something that can be looked into.
Rick Davies: You asked us not to repeat, but I think this is a little bit different question regarding what the architectural crew has thought of as a different option for the plan. Prior to the Charrette, when they came in for their initial review, I had sent to the Planning Board some of my thoughts on an area that had been looked at in Vermont. It has more of a colonial effect that blends into the Town of Warner and I think this would be the perfect location for this. The Charrette talked about a four story hotel in back of the Demoulas area [Market Basket]. This is more prominent, itís up front, and itís a higher elevation relative to the scale of the property. Sissy has some of the color pictures I submitted from the previous consultation [in 2003] I have a couple more photos Iíd like to pass out of some other projects that have been done, and ask why maybe this canít be considered for this project to blend it in more with the surrounding features.
Mr. Rodgers: Isnít this really Planning Board stuff?
Ms. Mical: This is really Planning Board stuff, but if it gives them the option of making changes now, I think itís important. The last two people I considered to be more Planning Board comments, but it is true that if they change their plan, all of these things will change from our point of view.
Ms. Hinnendael: What we do depends on what the Planning Board does, though, when it comes to the size of the building.
Mr. Pelletieri: It speaks directly to the maximum square footage, in particular.
Mr. Rodgers: We have three variances that weíve already tabled until the next meeting, and we have one other issue after this. These guys are coming back, right? And thereís going to be a Planning Board meeting with all of these discussions about the building and landscaping, etc., correct?
Ms. Mical: Yes.
Mr. Rodgers: Can we move to the next thing?
Ms. Mical: Rick, please give your pictures to the applicants.
Mr. Davies: I very strongly protest that point because what youíre trying to do is make a decision on changing the results of the regulations of the town, and if you donít have the information when youíre making the decision that we think is appropriate for this change, then we wonít have the opportunity later on to come back to it. So I very strongly protest the inference that this is not a Zoning Board situation.
Mr. Rodgers: But weíre not making any decisions tonight. Everythingís been tabled. My point is that we could talk about this for another three hours/
Ms. Mical: Rick, give your pictures to them.
Mr. Davies: I have one more sheet that shows that Hampton Inns in other locations do change to suite the surrounding area. Thatís a picture from Sedona, and itís blended into the local requirements for the town. Two more comments on what has come up here. Iíve been in construction for 30 years Ė gross square footage is the outside of the building on all four levels. Iíve used that for 30 years as the standard for the industry.
Ms. Mical: We will be consulting legal counsel on that.
Mr. Davies: And would you also read the definition of the height of a building. Thatís different from what youíve been talking about.
Janice Rose: I know the Board is going to be considering square footage issues. My question is do you consider square footage of buildings in relation to residential areas? Do you give any consideration to what type of a square footage is allowed in relation to the proximity to a residential area?
Ms. Mical: We donít have any regulations that say, for example, that if youíre next to a residential area, you can only put in 10,000 square feet, or something like that.
Barbara Annis: Could I have a clarification on something that was said tonight? Rick kept on saying, "We think this and we think that." Who is "we"?
Mr. Davies: We is me.
Ms. Annis: Ok. Thank you.
Mr. Davies: I got up and I said Rick Davies.
Ms. Annis: But you said "we" think this.
Ms. Mical: Ok. If there are no more questions, Iíll close the public hearing and reopen the Board meeting.
Joanne Hinnendael: I was going over the information from CNHRPC and Lucy St.John suggested that the ZBA should ask about traffic studies, solid waste disposal, etc. I know that the Planning Board generally asks about traffic studies and I assume youíve done one for this project. I would like to se a copy of that for us. I think we need to hear about those things. But I think we need to wait until we talk to Dick Brown.
Mr. Sullivan: Dominic is going to do one for us. I spoke to him this morning about it. He has done the traffic study for the area, and he spoke to the Planning Board this morning about the extent of the study.
Ms. Mical: Thank you, gentlemen. We will see you at the next meeting, which is on April 12th.
VI. Administrative Guidance: Variance
VII. Communications and Miscellaneous