Planning Board Meeting Town of Pelham, Massachusetts

Subject: Draft # 2 Meeting Minutes 4/3/15-

Pelham Planning Board

Monday, April 13, 2015

Community Center of Pelham

Present: Abbie Jenks (Chair), Judie Eiseman, Dan Robb, Andy Lichtenberg, Pete Wilson

Also: Ralph Faulkingham (ZBA), Jeff Eiseman (ZBA), Linda Faulkingham, Carrie Clouse, Kevin Hartsell (Conservation Commission)

Call to order 7 pm

Review and Approve Minutes of March 9. 2015 meeting.

First order of business- the planting and screening around the new generator placed by Town of Amherst at the corner of the Community Center at South Valley Road.

Judy asked if the generator produces noise?

Dan, who lives across the street from it, says it sounds like an “idling truck” when it is in operation.

Proposed is a wooden enclosure on the street side with plantings around it to improve its look and help deaden the noise.

Among the issues was the fact that the ZBA was not consulted in advance by the Select Board.

Jeff says the SelectBoard had plans they were intending to bring to all relevant Town boards.

Judy- could the generator be moved? Dan- probably not.

Pete- was the generator approved before placement and by whom?

Ralph- can the fence be extended?

Followed by more discussion about the specifics of fence placement, shrubbery, noise.

Kevin drew the plan presented to the Planning Board- an 8 ft fence surrounded by bayberry plants with ground cover planting. Next step is review and approval by Board.

More discussion of fence and planting. (Specifically can the fence go all the way around the generator to protect from the noise that bounces of the building.)

Kevin- Amherst said “what do you want?” and we’ll do it.

Agreed that Kevin will make some changes in his design in response to comments from the board and email it to the Chair, who will share with members.

Ralph from the ZBA came to talk about modifications in the Home Occupations by-law (sec 125-12 b4). Currently Home Occupation permit holders come back to the ZBA after 1 year to renew their permit and subsequently every 3 years. Ralph would like to extend the permit time to 1, 5 and 10 years for renewals to save everyone time and expense (both the permit holders and the ZBA). This became more of an issue when permit costs increased from $100 to $125 (and then $25 more for abutters lists).

Ralph wrote to Chair of Planning Board Hall about 2 1/2 years ago with this idea and never got a response.

Andy suggested that if we were going to be looking at the Home Occupation by law, it might be helpful to liberalize the employee section while still placing limits. Currently, family members are employed by a Home Occupation.

Jeff reminded that family includes up to 4 people living together in a house.

Abbie led into a discussion of the proposed Bower Studio on Route 202.

Judy asked how does business help the Town IF THERE IS NO DIFFERENTIAL TAXING AND MUCH ONLINE BUSINESS GOES UNREGULATED OR UNKNOWN .

.Andy replied that businesses help grow a sense of community in a town and also produce people who are willing to be involved in civic and governmental activities that help the town to function.

JUDY ACKNOWLEDGED THERE WAS BENEFIT IN THAT, BUT NOT OF THE TYPE THE FINANCE COMMITTEE WAS PUSHING FOR.

There was discussion about the differences between Home Occupation and the Major Home Occupation created for the Limited Business District on Route 9.

Jeff proposed that unless there were a complaint, after the 1 year renewal, Home Occupations need not renew. In other words, the permit would be in force unless there were an unresolved complaint, at which time the permit holders would need to appear before the ZBA.

Judy raised objections citing unvoiced complaints by shy neighbors OR PERSONS UNKNOWINGLY MOVING INTO A NEIGHBORHOOD WITH A PREVIOUSLY UNREPORTED PROBLEM AND FINDING THERE WAS LITTLE RECOURSE.

Jeff responded that shy neighbors would be unvoiced at regular permit renewals also.

Judy asked about case law in the issue.

Jeff responded that the Attorney General had agreed with the Major Home Occupation by law indicating legal approval of what we were discussing.

Dan suggested that the ZBA put together the language they would like and present it back to us. Ralph and Jeff agreed to this.

Village Center plans were next on the agenda.

Pete asked whether the creation of a Design Review Board was a good idea.

Andy thought that by laws could be written such that the Planing Board would function as the Design Review Board.

Dan mentioned the Solar By Law which had a lot of review written into it as an example.

Pete stressed that he did not want Design Review for any single family homes but did for Duplex, Multi-Family or multi use buildings.

Pete- Control over Design Review would help to present our ideas to the citizens.

Andy asked what the role of Design Review would be in the Village Center.

Dan spoke about the windmill situation in Falmouth and how lack of citizen review has led to many problems. Dan said he brought up the subject to encourage the Town to develop policies that would avoid this problem.

JUDY INDICATED THAT SINCE THERE IS SOME CONSENSUS (ACCORDING TO SURVEYS) IN TOWN ABOUT MAINTAINING RURUAL CHARACTER, SOME DESIGN STANDARDS RELATIVE TO LIGHTING, VIEWSHED, NOISE, ETC., SHOULD BE REVIEWED AND CONSIDERED.

We resolved to communicate our ideas about Village Center to Dillon.

Adjourn: 830 pm

Respectfully submitted,

Andy Lichtenberg

Secretary