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Minutes of Zoning Board of Appeals, 09/20/2016

AGENDA: Zoning Board of Appeals

RECEIVED 09/21/2016 3:25pm

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Minutes

Present:
Beth Williams, Chairman
Henry Polio, Secretary
Scott Smith
Noel Cooke
Bruce Given
Trevor Furrer, Alternate
Heather Whaley, Alternate
The meeting was called to order at 7:29 pm.

APPROVAL OF ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS MINUTES:
Upon the Motion of Mr. Smith and second of Mr. Cooke, the June 21, 2016 Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting Minutes were approved (5-0) by the Board.

REGULAR APPLICATIONS:
Application #16-07-0149 Putnam Park Road – Owner: Zbigniew Tunasek (Map #8 & Lot #3) – Agent Attorney Neil R. Marcus, of Cohen and Wolf P.C., 158 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, CT: Requesting a variance to reduce side yard setback to 8.5 feet for a 24’x28’Shed/Storage Structure. Section 4.6.5 of the Redding Zoning Regulations requires 40 foot setback from the side. Variance requested is 31.5 feet.  Postponed from July 17, 2016 and August 16, 2016.

Mr. Neil Marcus, Agent Attorney for the Tunaseks, presented the application to the Board. Mr. Marcus noted the lot of land at 49 Putnam Park Road was very narrow, only 123 feet wide in the front and 122 feet wide in the rear, with a driveway on a steep slope.  The house was built with the pool in the rear yard.  Mr. Marcus indicated the Tunaseks wished to expand their storage area and garage by building a shed/storage structure, 24’ x 28’ and began construction in the proposed location.  The Zoning Enforcement Officer, Aimee Pardee, then issued a cease and desist order on April 16, 2016 as there was not an approved variance to build the structure outside of the setback area.   Mr. Marcus noted that the Tunaseks were entitled to apply for a variance.

Mr. Marcus noted that there is a hardship created by the topography of the small lot and the severe sloping and irregularities. He noted that neighbors adjacent to the Tunaseks had structures and sheds within 4 feet of the property line, as is common with lots of this small size.  Mr. Marcus stated that the structure is not believed to be obtrusive to neighbors as it is inside the concrete retaining wall and only affects the side yard setback.

Ms. Williams noted that the applicant previously applied for a variance in August 2015, which was denied, and suggestions were given for alternate locations, i.e. closer to the pool, or removal of the pool. Ms. Williams also made note that there was a trampoline currently located on the opposite side of the property, which is a flat area.  Mr. Marcus stated that alternate ideas had been looked at but were exhausted.

Ms. Williams noted that on the site visit there were two sheds along the driveway inside the same setback and inquired if they would be removed if the proposed structure was approved. Mr. Marcus indicated he would advise his client to do so.

Ms. Whaley inquired about a previous recommendation of buying land from the neighboring property. Mr. Marcus indicated they had tried to no avail.

Mr. Marcus also pointed out that the based on Zoning Regulations, while the storage shed structure may not be located within setbacks, it is acceptable that the items stored within may be left out in the setback area, i.e. lawnmower, tools, etc. He stated that the Zoning Regulations discriminate against 1-acre lot owners.

Ms. Williams asked when the home was built. The Tunaseks stated it was built in 1969, along with the pool.

 Application #16-07-02 – 32 Meeker Hill Road – Owner: Henry & Laura Conley (Map #23 & Lot #165. Requesting a variance to increase building coverage to 11.6% from existing building coverage of approximately 10.35% to enlarge an existing small screened porch at the main floor level.  Section 4.6.6 of the Redding Zoning Regulations (max building coverage is 10% in an R-2 zone). Variance requested is 1.6%.   Postponed from July 17, 2016 and August 16, 2016.

Mr. Henry Conley presented the application to the Board. Mr. Conley handed out additional survey maps to the Board members to review during the presentation.  He indicated his property is a 0.285 acre lot in a 2-acre zone.  The house, built in 1810, is located on a sloping hill close to the property line where the main floor is accessed in the front on the second floor of the house; from the rear the house is two stories with main floor on the top floor with basement and garage below.  Mr. Conley explained the only rear exterior living space is the screened-in porch on the second floor, and it is not compliant with current building code.  He noted the new porch will be built to meet current building code.

Mr. Given inquired about the existing pergola and if it would be removed and thus reduce the footprint.   Mr. Conley indicated it would be removed but is it not included in the coverage area.  Mr. Conley also explained that the only manner of egress to the backyard is from a door off the kitchen on the side of the house down a path of uneven boulders, which is unsafe.  It was noted that Mr. Conley was injured from a fall on this path in March 2016.

Mr. Given asked if the variance request included the staircase and landing at the bottom. Mr. Conley noted it was included with the total addition being 150 square feet in total with porch.  Mr. Polio inquired to the size of the landing area.  Mr. Conley noted the landing area was approximately 6’ x 6’.

Mr. Conley stated that the adjacent landowners had been notified and there were no objections. Ms. Williams noted letters were received in support of the requested variance from Mr. and Mrs. Burns of 30 Meeker Hill Rd, Jane Ross of the Redding Land Trust and John Olsen and Celeste Demaio of 36 Meeker Hill Road, which were read into the minutes.

Application #16-08-01 – 148 Gallows Hill Road – Owner: Timothy A. Anderson (Map #54 & Lot #S-6).  Request a variance to reduce side yard setback to 31 feet for construction of deck and stairs behind garage.  Section 4.6.5 of the Redding Zoning Regulations requires 40 foot setback from the side.  Variance requested is 9 feet.  Postponed from August 16, 2016.

Mr. Timothy Anderson presented the application to the Board. Mr. Anderson explained that proposed variance for construction of deck and stairs behind the garage is to provide outside egress to the garage as well as improved egress for safety.  Currently, the stairs are enclosed in the garage.  He noted that over the past five years the free-standing shed behind the garage had collapsed twice due to the weight of snow.

Ms. Williams noted there was a Certificate of Occupancy on the building included in the application. Mr. Anderson noted he obtained the C.O. in 2014 although it had been completed prior.  Ms. Williams indicated that the C.O. noted “No plumbing, heating, electric allowed.”  Mr. Anderson stated that there has always been electric in the garage.  Ms. Williams inquired if a representative from Zoning came out to review or inspect the garage.  Mr. Anderson indicated he was not aware of any site visit from Zoning.  Ms. Williams noted that according to the survey provided the garage was not in compliance with zoning regulations.  Ms. Williams asked how long the garage has been on the property and if there had been a previous variance made for the garage.  Mr. Anderson stated that the garage had been constructed some years back, but the CO was issued in 2014.  He noted that Mr. Gerry Casiello is a neighbor and has no objections.

Mr. Given inquired if another small shed on the property line was pre-existing. Mr. Anderson states that is was pre-existing with no foundation.  Mr. Anderson indicated it has been there for 22 years and he was not aware of any variance.  Ms. Williams noted that the application should include the garage with deck and stairs and suggested the applicant return requesting relief for all to bring the garage into compliance.

Application #16-08-027 Main Street Georgetown – Owner: Flori Osorio Famoso LLC (Map #46 & Lot #17) – Agent B. David Unschuld New England Propane 162 Grassy Plain St. Bethel, CT. Requesting a variance to reduce side yard setback to 13 feet for installation of a 250 gallon above ground Propane Tank.  Section 4.6.5 of the Redding Zoning Regulations in a BC Zone is 25 foot setback from the side. Variance requested is 12 feet. Postponed from August 16, 2016.

Mr. David Unschuld, from New England Propane, as agent for Flori Osorio Famoso LLC, presented the application to the Board. Mr. Unschuld handed out photographs to the Board members for review during his presentation.  He explained that the building at 7 Main Street in Georgetown is a commercial space with a restaurant on the ground level and office space/residential on the second floor.  There is currently a 1,000 gallon propane tank underground that provides heating for the entire building.  The landlord wishes to install a second propane tank in order for propane usage to be separated from restaurant and the living spaces above.  The photos presented show the tank in the proposed location along with alternate locations.  In the proposed location, the tank would be least visible and hidden by the screening of the handicap walkway.

The Board members reviewed the survey map and photos and discussed alternate locations within setbacks. Mr. Smith inquired if the tank would be higher when installed than what is shown in the photos.  Mr. Unschuld indicated that the tank in the photos was sitting on blocks and is shown at the height installed.  Mr. Polio asked if the tank could be installed in the front of the property under ground.  Mr. Unschuld indicated that would be possible at a higher cost.  Various locations were discussed for possible location of the tank: behind the parking area, left side of the building and underground.  Mr. Smith noted that on the left side of the building would be an eyesore as it would be seen from anyone traveling north on Main Street and would be next to the entrance of the Norwalk River Park.  Ms. Whaley suggested that the tank be fenced in to make it less of an eyesore.

Mr. Cooke inquired about having the gas line split from the existing tank with two meters installed. Mr. Unschuld indicated that the two meter split would be bound under Federal law and is cost prohibitive to the gas supplier and owner.  Mr. Cooke asked what would be the anticipated cost.  Mr. Unschuld did not know the costs.

Mr. Smith noted that he made a site visit to the property and the proposed location is the best spot for a tank installation.

Application #16-09-01 – 33 Lonetown Road – Owner: Town of Redding Elementary School (Map #21 & Lot #13) – Request a variance to increase the Redding Elementary School sign from 6 square feet per sign face to 24 square feet per sign face. Section 5.9.2(f) of the Redding Zoning Regulations requirements maximum area of six (6) square feet per sign face. Variance requested is 18 square feet.

Ms. Carrie Wessman-Huber, Principal for Redding Elementary School (RES), presented the application to the Board. Ms. Wessman-Huber explained that the increased size of the new RES sign was due to a miscommunication between the school and the sign company.  The sign was installed immediately by the sign company unbeknownst to the school.  Upon seeing the sign installed, Ms. Wessman-Huber immediately emailed Zoning Enforcement Officer Aimee Pardee indicating she would request it taken down if necessary until appropriate approvals be made but was advised to leave the sign installed and apply for variance.  Per Ms. Wessman-Huber, all adjacent neighbors had been notified and voiced approval; no letters were received.

Mr. Given inquired as to the size of the previous sign. Ms. Wessman-Huber indicated it had been 12 square feet.  Mr. Furrer asked if the sign company had pulled the permit.  Ms. Wessman-Huber stated they had not; the sign company was from Long Island and recently worked on a sign for Easton and used specifications from regulations in another Town as they thought Redding was under the same jurisdiction of regulations.

Ms. Williams asked if the 2015-2017 National PTA School of Excellence sign plaque was also included in the square footage of the overall design. Ms. Wessman-Huber indicated that it is included in the total square footage.  The sign plaque was noted to be approximately 6 inches x 5 feet.  Mr. Given inquired of the size of the Joel Barlow High School sign.  While the Joel Barlow sign size was unknown it was believed to be in comparable size to the new RES sign.

 Application #16-09-02 – 61 Hopewell Woods Road – Owner: Timothy and Melinda Shea (Map #9 & Lot 19) – Request a variance to reduce side yard setback to10 feet for installation of ground mounted solar panels. Section 4.6.5 of the Redding Zoning Regulations requires 40 feet from the side.  Variance requested is 30 feet

Mr. Timothy Shea presented the application to the Board. Mr. Shea explained that the installation of a 25 kw system of ground mounted solar panels was part of a zero net energy project whereby the energy sourced is greater than or equal to the energy expenditure in the house.  Mr Shea stated that the dwelling is a mid-Century modern style home by famed architect, John Black Lee.  Mr. Shea indicated that he does not wish to install solar panels on the roof of the house as the roof is flat and he does not wish to alter the aesthetic appeal of the architecture.  He proposes to install the panels on the ground at approximately 36-42 inches in height on a slope to the rear of the house with southern exposure.

Ms. Williams inquired if the panels would be seen from Huntington Park. Mr. Shea indicated they would not be seen from that location.  Mr. Polio asked if it was due to aesthetics alone as to why he would not wish to install panels on the roof of the house.  Mr. Shea indicated that is possible the house may qualify as landmark status due to the architect design and he would not want to disrupt the flat line of the roof.  He also noted that there were too many panels to be placed on the roof as well as questioned whether the roof structure could give adequate support to the weight of the panels.  The survey map was reviewed and discussed by the Board members for alternate locations.  Mr. Given suggested grading with removal of trees.  Mr. Shea indicated that for maximum efficiency the panels should be faced south.  The proposed area is on a 15-20% slope.  Ms. Whaley asked as to the size of the panels.  Mr. Shea indicated they were 68 x 24 inches. Ms Williams inquired about the total coverage of all the panels, and Mr. Shea referred to the specs from the provider, which indicate that the solar array would be approximately 78.5 by 39.4 square feet.  Ms. Williams inquired if the neighboring properties had given feedback about the installation of panels and Mr. Shea indicated that he did not speak with anyone from the neighboring properties.  He stated the neighboring properties included new homeowners to the west, a vacant property to the north, and property owned by the State of Connecticut to the east.  Mr. Shea’s 6-acre lot of land was part of 30 acres that had been split.

Upon motion of Mr. Given and second of Mr. Smith, the Board voted to enter deliberative session at 8:47 p.m.

DELIBERATIVE SESSION:
Application #16-07-0149 Putnam Park Road – Upon motion of Mr. Given and the second of Mr. Smith, the Board voted 5-0 to deny the application for variance as the request was the same as presented on August 18, 2015 and denied at that time for lack of hardship.

Application #16-07-02 – 32 Meeker Hill Road – Upon motion of Mr. Smith and the second of Mr. Given, the Board voted 5-0 to grant the variance requested to improve safety and bring the property into compliance.

Application #16-08-01 – 148 Gallows Hill Road – Upon motion of Mr. Polio and the second of Mr. Given, the Board voted 5-0 to deny the request for variance without prejudice requesting applicant to reapply for a new variance including the garage.

Application #16-08-027 Main Street Georgetown – Upon motion of Mr. Cooke and the second of Mr. Given, the Board voted 5-0 to deny the request for variance without prejudice with recommendation of looking at a plumbing alternatives with the existing tank and piping. If technically not feasible then return for variance of alternate tank location.

Application #16-09-01 – 33 Lonetown Road – Upon motion of Mr. Given and the second of Mr. Smith, the Board voted 5-0 to grant the application with a codicil that within 5 years the Zoning Commission reviews the Zoning regulations with regards to the square footage size for Redding Town Schools signage.

Application #16-09-02 – 61 Hopewell Woods Road – Upon motion of Mr. Cooke and the second of Mr. Smith, the Board voted 5-0 to deny the application for variance due to lack of hardship.

Upon motion of Mr. Smith and second of Mr. Cooke, the Board voted to exit deliberative session at 9:08 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT
The Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 9:08 p.m.

These minutes have not been approved by the ZBA.
Submitted by klg 9/22/16