2019 Raymond Zoning Board of Adjustments Meetings

Raymond Zoning Board Denies Two Rehearings, Continues Third
By Penny Williams    3-11-19

The Raymond Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) denied two rehearing requests and continued a third during its March 6 meeting.

Kathy and Robert McDonald had requested a rehearing regarding the January ZBA denial of their Appeal of Administrative Decision regarding Ridgewood Commons at 41 Chester Road (Route 102). They were represented by Attorney Scott Hogan.

The Ridgewood Commons proposal is for construction of 172 condominium townhouses in 43 buildings along with associated infrastructure off Route 102 on a 77.247-acre parcel.

The Ridgewood Commons development was approved by the Planning Board in October 2018 after 18 months of hearings. The request for Relief from an Administrative Decision concerned the timeliness of Hogan's appeal regarding that decision.

At that time, Attorney Patricia Panciocco, representing the developer, said the law states an appeal of a decision must be made within 45 days of the decision. No such appeal was made at any point, and therefore the appeal from the administrative decision was untimely, in as much as the decision was made many months after the decision, she said. She said the appeal should be dismissed because it was not within the jurisdiction of the ZBA and was not timely.

The board reviewed the information submitted, and ZBA alternate member Marc Vadeboncoeur said he could not see that any new information had been provided. He added that he did not think the board had erred in its decision.

The board voted 4-0-1, with Paul McCoy abstaining, to deny the rehearing request.

The board then turned to a motion for rehearing submitted by Panciocco on behalf of Healyford Realty, LLC, for the ZBA's January decision to deny a request for a variance regarding property at 26 Chester Road (Route 102) 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 an additional variance was sought in calculating the number of allowed bedrooms per acre of developable land. The ZBA on Jan. 23 denied the request.

The board reviewed the submitted information and member Stephen Feher read the regulation regarding what constitutes “new information.'” He then said he saw nothing in the submission that qualified as new information and added that the ZBA had not made any technical errors in arriving at its earlier decision.

The board voted unanimously 5-0 to deny the rehearing request.

The board postponed a decision on a motion for a rehearing regarding its decisions in October and December to grant three variances to BenAsh Holdings, whose registered agent is Timothy Peloquin, regarding a proposed mixed use development of property owned by Peloquin on Freetown Road. The applicants had the right to request a continuance in hopes of having a full board to hear their request. The full board was not present at the March 6 meeting.

The Peloquin proposal is for eight, 2-bedroom condominium units and a 4,000-square-foot commercial building on 1.62 acres in the C1 (Commercial) zone. During the hearings an issue arose regarding McCoy, with some saying he should have recused himself. He had earlier represented Peloquin in his bid to sell the property, but was no longer doing so.

The abutters brought their complaints to the Board of Selectmen, and the request for rehearing was submitted by Attorney Keriann Roman for the Raymond Board of Selectmen and by Laura Hartz on behalf of the abutters It was noted that not only Roman needed to be notified and to make the decision to continue, but Hartz and the abutters as well.

The ZBA decided to table the request until March 27, and that was to ensure that all parties be notified of the continuance and the new date for the hearing.


Zoning Board OKs Norris Farm Conservation Subdivision Variances
By Penny Williams    3-6-19

Brian Griset, on behalf of his wife, Adela, owner of property on Norris Farm Road in Zone C1 (Commercial), appeared before the Raymond Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) on Feb. 27 to request four variances, but withdrew one at the beginning of the presentation. The withdrawn variance related to Zone G frontage and setbacks, but would not apply in a conservation subdivision, which is what Griset is seeking to build.

The variance requests he sought were: relief from “allowed uses,” as a single-family detached dwelling is not allowed in Zone C1; relief from “allowed zones” - conservation developments are allowed in Zones A or B; and relief from “driveway” - an access way with two or fewer dwellings, except in the case of a conservation subdivision, which may have four dwellings served by one driveway.

Griset's conceptual plan presented provides a portion of the parcel under consideration to the Town-owned Flint Hill Conservation land. He said his parcel had been Mixed Use in the 1990s and up to 2009, but a planned Industrial Park in the Master Plan never came to fruition and now, with Town zoning changes on properties around his parcel, he is surrounded by Zone B residential and Conservation land.

He displayed what a conventional subdivision would look like, with five dwellings being built on the parcel or with 22 contractor condominium units. He said that after Conservation Commission chairman Jan Kent spoke at his conceptual presentation before the Planning Board, he looked into a conservation subdivision and found it would meet his needs while having the least negative impact on the abutters.

The conservation subdivision would allow four dwellings on a driveway. He thus asked the ZBA for a variance to allow five dwellings on a single driveway, saying that is what would be needed to make the subdivision feasible from an economic and practical standpoint. He went on to explain that a conventional subdivision would require a road, which because of the retention pond and known ledge area on the parcel, would involve blasting and would be economically impractical.

Griset claimed the C1 zoning of his parcel constitutes “spot zoning” and is illegal. He said he wants to build a development with as little impact on others as possible, saying that would be a Conservation Subdivision, which would require a variance to allow single-family dwellings in the C1 zone.

He then reviewed his variance request to allow a conservation subdivision in the C1 zone. A letter from Kent was read into the record in which she said the proposed conceptual development offered a greater benefit than allowing commercial development, and that the proposed plan avoids any impact on wetlands. She said the Conservation Commission was in favor of the variance, and if his plan were approved, the Town would have all of the Flint Hill area.

His third variance request seeks to allow five dwellings in a conservation subdivision on a single driveway. He said this would avoid blasting for the most part and would locate the dwellings in such a way as to have as little impact on abutters as possible.

The plan includes giving 4.2 acres to the Town on Flint Hill. Fifty percent of the conservation subdivision acreage would be open space. His intent is to have the Home Owners Association for the subdivision be responsible for the maintenance of the driveway and retention pond.

Abutter questions were mainly about blasting and if it were to occur, what impact it would have on neighboring wells. They were told those are Planning Board issues but there is a process in place to protect dwellings and their wells.

One abutter complained about losing the privacy of her current home, but Griset pointed out that this was the way things worked, as everyone has the right to develop their own property. He noted his plan would not impact her access to conservation land.

Resident Kathy McDonald, kidded by board members who noted she had attended the last three meetings and thus could be considered a member of the board, asked why Griset did not follow the rules in developing the land instead of choosing the regulations to get what he wanted.

He responded that because his parcel is in the C1 zone, he has to get the variances to be able to build a conservation subdivision. He also noted the Planning Board had sent him to the ZBA to get the variances and added that if they are denied, he will move forward with a commercial development.

The board went into deliberation and agreed to address the first two variances first because if they were denied, the third would be moot.

All members said the spirit of the ordinance was met, substantial justice was done and the plan offered a net gain. They noted that other properties would not be diminished, the special conditions of the property made this unique and it was the best use of the property, in fact, a perfect fit for the area. The proposed use would bring less congestion and traffic to the area than a commercial development and would have less of an impact, they added.

The board voted unanimously to approve the first two variance requests and returned to deliberation for the third variance, which they found met all five criteria. They pointed out the plan was designed to limit the impact on the neighborhood, with the condition that the driveway had to meet Raymond Fire Department requirements for emergency vehicles and truck use, with a turnaround added. They voted unanimously to approve the third variance.
The conceptual plan will move on to the Planning Board and an engineering design will be obtained.

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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