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08/06/2015 – ZB Minutes

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Town of Bethlehem ZBA Meeting, August 6, 2015, AHEAD Special Exception 1
Town of Bethlehem
Zoning Board of Adjustments
Meeting Minutes
August 6, 2015

Present: Lon Weston, Maurice Stebbins, Alan Jackson, Amy Delventhal, and Christina Ferrarro.

Administrative Items
Minutes from 6/18/2015

Amy Delventhal motions to approve the minutes from the June 18, 2015 meeting. Maurice Stebbins
seconds the motion, all members in favor, motion carries.

Community Living at Lloyd’s Hills, c/o AHEAD Special Exception Public Hearing:

Lon Weston opens the public hearing for Community Living at Lloyd’s Hills at 6:15 and asks Alan Jackson
to read the public hearing notice.

On August 6, 2015 @6:15 the Bethlehem Zoning Board of Adjustments will conduct a Public Hearing for
consideration of an application for a Special Exception for the construction of multi-family dwelling
submitted by Lloyd’s Hill Housing c/o AHEAD Inc. for their property located on the south side of Main
Street, Route 302, Map 205, Lot 255.

Lon explains the process to the public and asks Alan and Amy to review the application checklist. In the
matter of total number of parking spaces the board asks AHEAD to please provide that number on the
plans. The board also notes that State approvals and permits are pending.

The board reviews the checklist. The following requirements are waived by motion:

Motion made by Amy Delventhal, seconded by Alan Jackson to accept the application as complete. All
in favor, the application is accepted.

AHEAD Ex Director Mike Claflin and Project Manager Olivia Beleau present the concept of the multifamily
dwelling project to the board and the public. (Please see attached file ZBA Lloyd’s Hills Concept.)
The presentation contains an overall explanation of the project, the eligibility requirement for residents,
environmental concerns, traffic concerns, and the potential population of children who will live in the
units. Olivia then introduces Nick Fiore, the project engineer, David Wood, former Ex Director and
consultant, and Gene Girdwood, AHEAD’s building specialist.

Lon opens the floor for questions from the ZBA.

Town of Bethlehem ZBA Meeting, August 6, 2015, AHEAD Special Exception 2

Alan Jackson comments at the Select Board meeting they were told the project would cost 5 million
dollars. He wonders what the value will be once the project is completed. David Wood explains this
property would be assessed under NH RSA 85:1-a, Residential Property Subject to Housing Covenant
under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. David explains the RSA was established for
properties that can’t respond by raising rents, and makes a value hard to determine. The formula to
determine the amount of property taxes is complicated and the tax rate is different depending on what
the net income of the property is. Olivia estimates the property would generate $25,000 in property
taxes. Alan commented that the cost per student at the school was $21,000. Maurice commented that
the students would be spread out and that the projected number of 25 children would not have much of
an impact.

Lon Weston inquired about the structure of the ownership of the property. David Wood explained
ownership was a limited partnership, with investors owning 99.99% and AHEAD owning .01%. Investors
had a 15 year period of ownership, which could not be extended, but that NH Housing could take on a
longer period of time. AHEAD’s roll was that of Managing General Partner

Amy wondered if the project could grow any larger. David Wood commented that it was not possible.
Olivia Beleau added that the wetlands prohibited more growth.

Maurice asked how long the project would take to complete. Olivia hopes they can close in November
and begin major site work in May. She adds the units are modular and would be build over the winter
and moved onto foundations later. Completion is anticipated by the fall on 2016. Alan asks if the units
have a foundation. Olivia responds yes and states that garages will be part of the foundations. Christina
wonders if the modular pieces would be brought through James Street. Again, Olivia responds yes.
Lon inquires about the solar array. Olivia offers that the units will be all electric and the electricity will be provided by the solar array. Lon questions whether or not the solar array will also be owned by the
limited partnership. Olivia explains the equity partners would provide equity, but there is also grant
money. The Public Utilities Commission will grant $70,000 to the project. Lon wonders if the solar array
would qualify for a DES exemption. David Wood is fairly certain, because they fall under the RSA 75
formula for taxation they would not qualify for the exemption. Alan asks about the efficiency of solar
down the road and notes that the panels need to be cleaned frequently and there is a lot of cloud cover
in the North Country. Olivia assures the board that the engineer has assessed the efficiency and the

Lon opens the floor for public comment

Sylvan Epstein wonders what sort of noise the solar panels will generate and produces an article from
the Vineyard Gazette dated September 25, 2014 entitled Solar Panels Create Noise Nuisance in
Edgartown. The article states there is significant noise and would like AHEAD to address that now. He
also claims the panels need to be cleaned daily. Mr. Epstein is also concerned about water runoff and
feels this project will create more runoff for his property. Mr. Epstein presents pictures for the board.
Town of Bethlehem ZBA Meeting, August 6, 2015, AHEAD Special Exception 3

He would also like to know how anything that gets started will be prevented from allowing this to
happen again. Lon explains these matters are beyond the scope of the Zoning Board and should be
raised at the Planning Board meeting next week. Nick Fiore, project architect explains the project is
subject to a DES Alteration of Terrain permit and that will regulate water with the addition of detention
ponds. The regulations also state that water runoff cannot be more after construction than it was

Andrea Bryant would like to know what the 5 criteria are for Special Exception. Lon reads the 5 criteria
and reminds everyone the ZBA has to remain focused on the criteria.

Lon asks if anyone can speak of the issue of noise created by the solar array. Olivia states she has never
heard of this before and feels the is a large enough separation from the solar array to the project
buildings and the abutters’ homes.

Pat Doughty has questions about the criteria. He feels the board can’t touch the matter of appropriate
use and there is nothing around the site that supports there is a match for proposed use. Pat also feels
criteria #3 regarding the generation of more noise or traffic is not met. Pat’s questions how the board
can even consider granting the special exception based on his opinion. Lon feels the board needs to
broaden their view. Don Lavoie asks if the applicant answered the 5 criteria. Lon states yes and the
board will review those at the close of public input.

Rita Farrell has questions on financing and construction. She comments that 25 units for a 5 million
dollar project equates to $200,000 per unit, and then asks what that equates to per square foot. Olivia
explain the cost per unit is lower and states there are soft cost requirements that add up. Rita again
asks how the investments work. David Wood explains again that NH Housing Authority is made up of
mostly non-profits, but some for profits too. AHEAD applies to NH Housing Authority for the credits as
the operating general partner. Rita would also like to know what AHEAD’s operating budget is. Mike
Claflin states it is close to 3 million dollars, which covers all operating expenses and pays for multiple
programs, including administrative costs. Rita would like to know more about who will be paying for the
water and sewer for the project. Lon suggests this is beyond the scope of the ZBA. Olivia offers that she
has talked with the Bethlehem Village District and that AHEAD plans to pay the cost for the

Don Lavoie asks about the demand for such housing in Bethlehem. Mike Claflin reports that North
Country Council data states that 1 in 3 families in Grafton county pay more than 30% of their income for
housing. Mike goes further by saying that AHEAD’s Pine Manor housing in Bethlehem always has a
waiting list.

Mr. Epstein raised concerns about traffic and wonders where there might be a second entrance. David
Wood explains the only two options are Noyes Street or RTE 302. Nick Fiore explains there would be
significant wetlands impact at either location and would likely only be part of the process if mandated
Town of Bethlehem ZBA Meeting, August 6, 2015, AHEAD Special Exception 4 by the Planning Board. Mr. Epstein would like to know what the estimated amount of land usage would be for the project. Nick estimates 2 to 3 acres for the homes, and 5 to 6 acres total.

Pat Doughty states he doesn’t understand the market analysis, it just doesn’t work. He then asks if the
Special Exception is granted does it stay with the property? Lon states it stays with this plan for this
property. If there was to be a change of use there would have to be another request.

Amy Delventhal clarifies the purpose of the ZBA and states there isn’t always a comparative. Lon states
the board has to look to the ordinances. Nowhere does it say this is not an allowed use, but rather an
allowed use with a Special Exception. If it were not allowed the applicant would be here seeking a
variance. The Zoning Ordinance, as it stands, defines this as an allowable use. He cautions everyone
this is more gray than black and white.

Peter Roy raised the question of the Master Plan update that is under way. Lon states the ZBA has to
work under the current Master Plan. He also states that affordable housing is a big issue and affects
much of the North Country. He goes further by stating it is every community’s responsibility to address
the issue the best they can. The current Master Plan addressed affordable housing and the voters
approved warrants to increase affordable housing. The board cannot look to a future Master Plan in this

Lon restricts the public hearing and requests that the board review the criteria for a Special Exception.
Christina Ferraro reads the criteria.

Criteria 1: The specific site is an appropriate location for the proposed use, structure, or change to a
structure, in relation to surrounding properties.

The proposed project consists of 25 two or three bedroom townhouse style units to serve as workforce
housing for income qualifying households. The units will be sited on an approximate 5 acre portion of
the 44.47 acre parcel of land. The land is currently vacant, and is surrounded by mixed density
properties in residential use or by heavily wooded, undeveloped land, and is an appropriate location
for the proposed use. The site has access to municipal water and sewer, and is within ½ miles walking
distance to the Town center.

The site is located in District 1, which allows Multi- family Swelling Units by Special Exception.
Motion made by Maurice Stebbins, seconded by Amy Delventhal that the application meets criteria 1.
All in favor, motion carries.

Criteria 2: The proposed use, structure, or change to a structure, will be compatible with adjoining land
uses and with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Town of Bethlehem ZBA Meeting, August 6, 2015, AHEAD Special Exception 5

The proposed housing will consist of two story townhouse units grouped together around common
central grassed areas with vehicular access restricted to the north side of the buildings. We hope to
reinforce the sense of community be creating walkways and playground areas with the center,
connecting households with pathways.

Motion made by Alan Jackson, seconded by Maurice Stebbins that the application meets criteria 2. All in
favor, motion carries.

Criteria 3: The proposed use, structure, or change to a structure, will not generate substantial amounts
of noise, odor, or create substantial increase in traffic.

The proposed housing will not generate any significant amount of noise or odor. Vehicular access will
be from James Street. Please see attached Engineering Ventures traffic statement.

Amy feels the board needs to wait until the applicant comes back with a noise study for the solar panels.
Lon asks about the structure of the solar array. Olivia explains the current configuration and explains
they are on fixed racks to the ground and they tie into conduits that bring the power to the building.
The inverters will be housed. The transmission lines with be underground with a number of transmitter
near the building. The board looks at the location of the solar array on the site plan and determines that
the solar array is as far away from the nearest abutters as it can be, over 500 feet. Lon remarks that the
inverter house will be at the solar site. After reviewing the information Amy feels much better regarding
the noise from the solar array. Maurice wonders if there are any solar project in the area so the board
can check it out. Dawn offers that the White Mountain School as solar in their new arts building and Lon
states Balance Bethlehem also has a solar array on their roof. Maurice feels the point should be mute.
No further discussion takes place regarding the noise generated by the solar array.

Amy would like to move on to the concerns about traffic and states, as a resident of District 1 residents
have to accept that it is part of District 1 living. Maurice asks how many homes are on James Street.
Lon estimates maybe half a dozen on either side.

Motion made by Amy Delventhal, seconded by Alan Jackson that the application meets criteria 3. All in
favor, motion carries.

Criteria 4: The proposed use, structure, or change to a structure, will not create any other nuisance or

The proposed housing is residential in nature and will not create other nuisance or hazard.
Maurice has a question about the water runoff, and notes it is a mess, but realizes they applicant will
have to obtain an Alteration of Terrain permit from DES. The board discussed the history of the project
as it pertains to the logging and clear cutting of previous owners. Lon remarks that fall under the
jurisdiction of the State and not the town. Nick Fiore remarks that DES has storm water regulations and
they are pretty strict and restates his previous comment regarding that there be no more runoff once a
Town of Bethlehem ZBA Meeting, August 6, 2015, AHEAD Special Exception 6

project is completed then there was prior. Alan Jackson states DES has the regulations but wonders
where the runoff goes, and who controls that. Nick states that within the property lot water detention
ponds will be in place to accept the runoff. Water that is out there now will stay in place. Alan’s concern
is the snow build up on the roof, and what happens when that comes off in a hurry. Nick explains it’s a
controlled release through the engineering of the property to absorb more of the runoff. Even during
construction, there are regulations for sediment control and those stay in place until the project is
completed. Alan asks whether or not an engineer has to provide a projected plan that is supposed to
work. Nick confirms, yes.

Motion made by Maurice, seconded by Amy Delventhal that the application meets criteria 4. All in favor,
motion carries.

Criteria 5: The proposed use, structure, or change to a structure, will be in harmony with surrounding
properties and consistent with the spirit and intent of this ordinance.

The proposed housing will incorporate a residential scale of the buildings, matching in massing an d
materials consistent with the architectural character of the neighborhood.

This site is located in District 1, which allows Multi-Family Swelling Units by Special Exception.
The purpose of Article XI Multi-Family Unit Development (adopted 3/9/2004 and revised in 3/11/2008)
was to provide a more affordable hosing option for income qualifying households, while establishing
guidelines and maintain the historic and scenic qualities of the Town.

Specific General Requirements in relation to Lloyd’s Hill Housing are:

1. Public Services – AHEAD has asked for a letter of adequate reserve from the Bethlehem Village
Water/Wastewater District, specific to the proposed flows of 9,450 gpd. System design will
satisfy all WSPCC requirements.

2. Minimum Parcel Size – The proposed project will be sited on an approximate 5 acre portion of
the 44.47 acre site, which will include an area dedicated to the 25 units of workforce housing.
3. Density – The multi-family development will be sited on a minimum of 4.59 acres, based on 5
units per lot of 40,000 sf = 200,000/43,560 sf./acre = 4.50 acres MINIMUM. Buildings and
roads will be sited on this acreage, with up to five acres to the south reserved for a solar array.
No other areas of the 44.47 acres site are being considered for development.

4. Building Coverage – Building Coverage for 25 units of 19,640 sf, which divided by 44.47
represents 0.9% lot coverage < 10%.

5. Setbacks – The buildings will be sited on the 5 acres to meet the front, side and rear setback of
60, 15, and 15 feet respectively.

6. Parking – We propose 2 parking space per unit for a minimum of 50 spaces. This exceeds the
required 1.5 space per unit. Parking for another 6 cars is shown on the drawings.

7. Building Height – The proposed building height is 32 feet, which is less than the 40 foot
maximum limit.

Town of Bethlehem ZBA Meeting, August 6, 2015, AHEAD Special Exception 7

8. Distance between buildings – the distance between buildings is 25 feet, which exceeds the 15
foot minimum requirement.

9. Maximum number of attaché unites – the maximum number of attached units is 8, which is
allowed under this Article.

10. Compliance with other regulations – Lloyd’s Hill Housing must demonstrate compliance with
all required Federal, State and Local regulation in order to receive funding.

Motion made by Maurice Stebbins, seconded by Christina Ferraro that the application meets criteria 5.
All in favor, motion carries.

Lon Weston asks for a motion to approve the Special Exception.

Motion made by Amy Delventhal, seconded by Maurice Stebbins to grant the appeal of Lloyd’s Hill
Housing, c/o AHEAD Inc for a special Exception for Map 204, lots 82 in District 1, regarding allowed uses
for Multi-Family Dwelling Units listed in Article XI of the 2011 Bethlehem Zoning Ordinances. All
members vote in favor, motion carries.

Alan Jackson motions to adjourn at 8:18. Maurice Stebbins seconds, all in favor, meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,
Dawn Ferringo
Planning and Zoning Board Clerk