2019 Raymond Zoning Board of Adjustments Meetings

Rehearing Appeal Rescheduled for Freetown Road Parcel
By Penny Williams     2-7-19

The Raymond Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) met Feb. 6 to consider a request from the Board of Selectmen to hold a rehearing of their decision on a proposal presented by attorney Charles Cleary of Wadleigh, Starr & Peters on behalf of Timothy Peloquin concerning property Peloquin owns and wants to develop on Freetown Road. The request by the Board of Selectmen for the ZBA to rehear the matter is the result of complaints from residents and abutters about the conduct of the ZBA in its hearings on variances requested for the property.

ZBA vice chair Joyce Wood, who conducted the meeting in the chairman’s absence, said the agenda called for a decision regarding the selectmen's request for the rehearing. She then read a letter from the selectmen's attorney requesting the rehearing request be rescheduled to the ZBA meeting of March 6. The board approved the request on a 3-0-1 vote, with Selectman Greg Bemis abstaining.

Later in the 18-minute meeting, Wood asked about the status of the McDonald appeal for a rehearing on the 41 Chester Road (Route 102) development known previously as The Meadows and now as Ridgewood Commons. The project calls for 172 condominium townhouses in 43 buildings. Wood was told that request was denied by the ZBA, and its next stop would be Superior Court.


ZBA Continues Rehearing Request on Freetown Road Variances
By Penny Williams  1-25-19

The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) received a letter from the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 23 requesting the ZBA to rehear the applications for variances submitted by Charles Cleary, Esq. of Wadleigh, Starr & Peters, PLLC, on behalf of Timothy Peloquin for a 1.62-acre parcel on Freetown Road.

The variance hearings took place in October and December 2018.

The ZBA continued the rehearing request until its Feb. 6 meeting.

The matter concerns property for which Peloquin had in 2005 received permission for a site plan calling for development of a 22,000-square-foot office building with 78 parking spaces in a narrow strip of C1 sandwiched between C2 mixed and residential zones. He had tried to market the property unsuccessfully for 13 years, and recently decided to change to a mixed-use plan. The revised plan calls for building eight residential condominium units with a total of 16 bedrooms, along with a 4,000-square-foot commercial building.

ZBA member Paul McCoy had marketed the property under its previous proposal but no longer is involved with the parcel or the new proposal. He did not recuse himself from the October hearing on the new request but agreed to recuse himself from the Dec. 19 hearing.

The variances sought include relief from minimum lot size of 5 acres for multi-family housing, calculation method for number of allowed bedrooms per acre of developable land, building setbacks, and allowed uses in C1. Multi-family housing is not allowed in Zone C1.

The ZBA’s decision to grant several of the variance requests has led to multiple complaints to the Board of Selectmen. At the October hearing on the variance requests, the ZBA voted 5-0 to grant a variance to allow multi-family housing in Zone C1 and then voted 3-2 to allow a variance from the minimum 5-acre lot size for multi-family housing. Abutters were upset over the conduct of the board at this meeting and with the plan presented.

The hearing was continued until Dec. 19, when a revised plan was presented with fewer multi-family units and fewer bedrooms but a larger commercial building. At that meeting, despite fierce opposition from abutters, the board denied a request for relief from the regulation that in C3 East and West there should be no density that exceeds three bedrooms per developable acre. The board did, however, approve a portion of a request from building setbacks.

Abutter complaints to the Board of Selectmen eventually resulted in the letter to the ZBA requesting a rehearing.

In other business:

• On Dec. 19, the ZBA had continued an application for variances from Attorney Patricia Panciocco on behalf of Healyford Realty, LLC for property at 26 Chester Road within Zone C3-East (Commercial Mixed Use). A variance was sought from the section that does not allow multi-family housing in Zone C3-East, and another variance was sought in calculating the number of allowed bedrooms per acre of developable land

At its Jan. 23 meeting, the ZBA denied the requests.

• The ZBA heard a request for a variance from Tobin Farwell on behalf of Joseph Reed Jr. and Christopher Reed for relief from the regulation that all commercial, including multi-family housing and industrial uses, for newly constructed buildings be fully sprinkler protected. The variance was for a parcel at 181 Route 27 within the C1 Zone.

The ZBA denied this request.

• The ZBA heard a request for a variance from Roscoe Blaisdell on behalf of Debra Murphy for relief from the frontage regulation on a public road. The property in question is located at 12 Smith Pond Road, a road that has been maintained by the Town, although there is no record of its being accepted as a Town road.

The ZBA approved the variance request.



Selectmen Tell ZBA to Rehear Freetown Road Proposal
By Penny Williams   1-22-19

The Raymond Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) was advised by the selectmen to rehear a developer’s proposed variances for a Freetown Road parcel, and turned down an appeal on the Ridgewood Commons townhouse development because it had no jurisdiction.

Selectman Scott Campbell told the ZBA on Jan. 16 that it would be receiving a letter from the Board of Selectmen requesting the ZBA rehear the project. The development proposal was presented to the ZBA previously by attorney Charles Cleary of Wadleigh, Starr & Peters on behalf of Timothy Peloquin. It concerns property Peloquin owns and wants to develop on Freetown Road.

The Selectmen and Town Manager have received complaints about the conduct of the ZBA in its hearing on the requested variances for the Peloquin property. Campbell said the ZBA should review the letter and take the matter up at its next scheduled hearing. The ZBA did not respond to Campbell’s comments.

Initially Peloquin's plan was to build 10 two-bedroom condominium units and a 2,715-square-foot office building on the 1.62-acre property in the C1 (Commercial) zone. The property exists in a narrow strip of C1 sandwiched between C2 mixed and residential zones. A site plan for the property was approved in 2005 that called for the development of a 22,000-square-foot office building with 78 parking spaces. Peloquin tried to market the property and the commercial building unsuccessfully for 13 years before deciding to a mixed use plan.

At the first hearing on the requests for variances, ZBA member Paul McCoy, a real estate agent who had in the past represented Peloquin in his attempt to market the parcel in question, did not recuse himself from the hearing. He was accused by neighboring residents of improperly persuading board members to vote in favor the development. At the second hearing, McCoy recused himself only after ZBA member Joyce Wood stated that not doing so would be at least the appearance of a conflict of interest and she thought he should step down. McCoy then recused himself.

However, concerns stemming from his actions at both meetings as well as the ruling of the board on the variances requested resulted in complaints to the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager and Ethics Committee. The Selectmen’s letter for a rehearing of the proposed development and variance requests resulted.


Ridgewood Commons (Meadows)

The ZBA was also challenged that evening by resident Bob McDonald and his land use attorney, Scott Hogan, who filed an Appeal of an Administrative Decision made by the Planning Board in the Ridgewood Commons Case.

The Planning Board on Oct. 18, 2018, after more than a year and a half of discussions, approved the Ridgewood Commons subdivision, formerly known as The Meadows, on Chester Road (Route 102). The subdivision application, first introduced on April 20, 2017 and generating ongoing opposition from abutters, is for a 77.247-acre parcel with frontage along proposed roads, and proposed construction of 172 condominium townhouses in 43 buildings, along with associated infrastructure, off Route 102. The final vote by the Planning Board was 5-2 to conditionally approve the plan.

ZBA Attorney Eric Maher of Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella was present at the Jan. 16 meeting.

Hogan said his appeal of the administrative decision of the Planning Board primarily had to do with the Zoning Ordinance definitions of a street and a lot line that he claimed were violated by the Planning Board's decision to approve the development.

He said that after first denying a waiver for 25-foot-wide streets in the development, not 50 feet wide as required by Raymond road standards, the Planning Board reversed its decision and approved the streets at 25 feet wide, calling them access ways instead. Hogan said the Raymond Zoning Ordinance requires that road regulations cannot be waived, and claimed that the Planning Board did waive the 50-foot requirement.

Attorney Patricia Panciocco, representing Ridgewood Commons, filed an objection to the appeal based on whether the ZBA has authority over the Planning Board decision and whether the appeal from the Administrative Decision was timely. Planning Board attorney Walter Mitchell agreed with Panciocco that the appeal was not timely and the ZBA did not have legal jurisdiction to hear the appeal.

Hogan argued that his appeal was timely because the Planning Board, having reversed itself once, could have done so again, so he was not able to file an appeal regarding that waiver until the final decision on the development was made.

McDonald noted that Raymond residents are paying for three attorneys in this matter.

Panciocco filed her objection and Hogan requested a minute that lasted about 10 minutes to present his issues. Panciocco then filed a motion to dismiss the appeal and again Hogan spoke in defense of the timeliness of his appeal and his belief that the ZBA had the authority to hear it, saying zoning regulations were the basis of the appeal. He termed the timeliness accusation a "red herring."

Panciocco said the reference Hogan made to the zoning ordinance regarding the roads was incorrect, as they are not in the Zoning Ordinance but rather in the Raymond Planning Board Subdivision Regulations. She went on to say that the law states an appeal of a decision must be made within 45 days of the decision, and none was made at any point. She said that as a result, this appeal from the administrative decision is untimely in as much as the decision was made many months ago. The appeal, she said, should be dismissed because it was not within the jurisdiction of the ZBA and was not timely.

Mitchell said the matter of jurisdiction has to do with the 45-day appeal period from the time of a decision, and thus the appeal is not legal. He also noted that the appeal concerns matters that are not in the Zoning Ordinance, so the ZBA does not have jurisdiction.

Hogan made it clear to the ZBA that if the board ruled in favor of Panciocco's request for dismissal, its denial of his Appeal from Administrative Decision would be the focus of the appeal he would then take to court.

Before the ZBA deliberated, several residents spoke up regarding their objections to the Ridgewood Commons project and the reasons for those objections, which ranged from Route 102 road conditions to size of the development to its traffic study, to the use of outdated ASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) data, and to accusations that Panciocco and Town Attorney Laura Spector Morgan had colluded.

McDonald said that if a petition with 25 signatures was turned in to Town officials after the development was completed, asking for the private 25-foot-wide roads to become public roads, the town would bear the expense of bringing those roads up to the required Raymond road width of 50 feet.

Panciocco corrected the information regarding alleged collusion and said she had never spoken to the attorney, other than once during public hearings regarding a specific term, and added that Attorney Spector Morgan had represented the Town while she represented the developer. She reiterated that the zoning information Hogan referred to as the basis for his appeal is not in the Zoning Ordinance but in the Planning Board Subdivision Regulations.

The ZBA went into deliberation and Povilaitis confirmed with legal counsel Maher that the 45-day appeal period is a matter of state law, and the ZBA has no way of overturning that. Each board member said that under the circumstances, the ZBA had no jurisdiction to hear this appeal.

The ZBA moved to deny the appeal based on the fact the board has no jurisdiction because of the 45-day appeal period rule, and voted unanimously to deny the appeal.






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