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Town of Acton
Planning Board Meeting Minutes
November 15, 2007
Members Present: Chip Vennell, Yoli Gallagher, Jim Fiske, Tom Cashin, Keith
Members Absent: Randy Goodwin, Brian Bellanger
Guests: Shelly Blaisdell (secretary), Durward Parkinson (Town Attorney), Ken Paul
(CEO), Barbara Seckar, Sarah Yates, Phyllis Folsom, Floyd Folsom, Richard
Germon, Ann Germon, Virginia Grover, Larissa Crockett, John Moore, Pam
McAlinden, Percival Lowell, Warren Seavey, Dick Neal, Mark Rix, Debi Rix,
Andrea Rose, Karen McManus, Bill Lotz, Jack Kelly, Roy Meyer, Jamie
Saltmarsh, Susan Rockefeller, Willie Wentzell, Pam Wentzell, Pat Hannon
Meeting called to order at 7:08 p.m. by Chairman Chip Vennell
Yoli makes a motion to accept the minutes of 11/01/07 only; Jim
seconds the motion.
Questions/Discussion: Tom Cashin questions top of page #3 of the 11/01/07
minutes, and asks Chip what he meant by his comment, “Chip explains that the
applicant has agreed to pay for the peer review of his application.” Tom asks if the
board is going to decide as a whole regarding hiring Pete Maher. Tom also
questions whether the board needs to vote on all decisions regarding hiring outside
consultants instead of the chairman getting to make the decision himself. Chip
explains that this is how is has been done in the past, and that the applicant
understands that anytime an outside consultant is needed, he is going to pay for it
himself. Chip also states that this information is in the application, and it is
explained to the applicant at the beginning and says, “if you want to vote every
time, fine, the board will vote every time.” Tom agrees.
11/01/07 minutes approved as written. All in favor 5-0
1. Town attorney Durward Parkinson meets with the board to discuss the
background on the Hannon application for a Waste Processing Facility, and
answers the boards questions. Mr. Parkinson first starts by introducing himself and
explains that he is frequently asked to give written opinions, and answer questions in
general regarding specific applications. Mr. Parkinson says that he is happy to
come to these meetings, at the boards request, on occasion, to be of assistance.
Chip asks Durward if the secretary called him last week to ask him to answer
specifically two questions that residents seem to have regarding what constitutes a
nuisance, and also about the process.
Durward explains what a public nuisance is because people question what that is
often, and also because the State cannot license a facility that is considered a public
nuisance. He said he doesn’t want to get into a long explanation, but there are two
types of public nuisances. One is statutory and the other is common, and is any
activity that interferes with public health, public safety, public peace or anything
that interferes with common public comfort. For instance, something with a lot of
odor, runoff, etc. could constitute a public nuisance. Chip asks if our ordinances
cover these kind of things. Durward explains that the Board is to do your best with
the standards and ordinances in front of you. It is the boards job to take the three
or four pages of ordinances that they have and try to do the best for the public that
Yoli asks about what our ordinances say regarding a public nuisance, and shows
Mr. Parkinson the summary of Article 4 in the ordinance code book. Durward
points out 126.96.36.199 A-N, and says that you should apply those standards because
they are more specific and say more than just “a nuisance.”
Chip asks about the process. Durward says his understanding is: an application
has been submitted; a site walk has been completed and the application has been
found complete. A public hearing has been held and now there is a question as to
whether this application was erroneously found complete because there is not
enough information to decide if it meets all of the standards as stated above. Chip
confirms that this is the basic question they have for Durward. Tom interjects and
says he would like to clarify by saying his understanding is that this was more of a
procedural question. Durward explains that the current ordinances of the planning
board are not very thorough, and require very minimal requirements as they read
right now. He continues to explain his understanding of the process, as required by
the planning board at the present, and says that currently the process, as he just
explained, may be acceptable for smaller projects, but for larger projects such as
this one, he feels more information needs to be required. He assumes there will be
workshop sessions with the applicant to tell the applicant what the problems are
with the application, and whether additional information is required. Durward said
he doesn’t feel that the board is stuck with the basic information that they were
given in the beginning to complete their review. He also feels it is a more
interactive process with the developer, and that the board has the right to make a
reasonable request for additional information.
Tom explains that the question he has specifically is regarding the submission issue
with regards to procedural omissions, and wants to know if chairman Chip Vennell
has a timeline on this issue. Chip answers that his idea of having Durward come to
the meeting tonight was to bounce questions off of a lawyer. A vote was taken to
accept the application and there are some people that think the board shouldn’t
have accepted it, and are not following the process.
Jim says the problem from the last meeting was section 188.8.131.52 and the way the
application was approved previously. Yoli asks whether the application fits under
184.108.40.206? Durward says he has not read the entire application and therefore is not
completely sure if it fits or not. He will review it in its entirety, per the boards
request, and respond in a brief summary within the next few weeks.
Tom makes lengthy comments, with several points that he considers reasons for the
Hannon application to be denied, quoting from past meeting minutes.
Durward makes a suggestion to the board that on complicated applications, due to
the amount of documents coming in, some ground rules should be set that say
applicants must have all forms in to the board a week to ten days before the
meeting so that they are not looking at documents on the fly during a meeting.
Chip explains that this is an amended use to a conditional use permit. The board
had, at one point, the original boundary survey when the applicant applied the first
time in 2001. It was part of an ongoing file for this applicant because the use has
been amended a couple of times. The original boundary survey disappeared from
the files, so the applicant provided another one for the board from the surveyor.
That is why it came in late, and therefore a majority of the board did not have an
issue with it, and it did not become a reason to deny this application.
Tom asks Durward if he is willing to make a finding on the validity of the boards
procedures to date, and if a motion to revisit the current vote is valid. Durward
explains that the board is beyond the initial phase of the application and now
should be considering a workshop with the applicant to make sure all criteria has
been met, and to let the applicant know exactly what is required of him to proceed.
Durward says it is not a common, normal procedure to turn the clock back and
readdress an application after you have come this far. He quotes MRSA 302
which says that an application that is pending cannot be affected by a change in the
law due to substantive review. Durward says a determination needs to be made if
the project is set for a review, and his recommendation is that the board proceed as
if the moratorium vote in January is not even there because you don’t know what
the outcome will be. Durward has real concern because if the moratorium is to
stop this one project, and the board is readdressing things because of this one
application, that opens the town up to liability.
Durward said that if the board wants to get him a copy of all the minutes, maps,
applications, and related materials and send them to him, he would be willing to
review everything and give the board a 1-2 page finding on whether the board
made a mistake previously or not, and a recommendation on how to proceed.
Pat Hannon requests a copy of all findings, as well as any documents that will be
provided to Durward Parkinson’s office. Durward said that a list of what is
provided to him can be sent to Mr. Hannon. Pat requests an actual copy of the
documents, and not just a list. The board agrees to give Pat Hannon a copy of
everything that Durward Parkinson’s office receives.
Tom requests the findings from Durward in fifteen days or less, and Durward says
he thinks his office can provide the findings in that amount of time with no
2. Mr. Warren Seavey has his initial meeting with the Board regarding moving his
current business to a new location. Discussion from Ken Paul (CEO), Chip
Vennell and Mr. Seavey results in Mr. Seavey needing to get a boundary survey
and then come back to the board with the results.
3. Comp. Plan Implementation Committee meets regarding the site plan review
process. New proposed ordinances for 2008 were presented.
Jamie Saltmarsh hands out an updated draft copy of the site plan review ordinance
that is different from the one that Tom had previously handed out to the board,
and explains the process that they went through to get to the point it is at currently.
Comp. Plan Implementation Committee member John Moore comments on the
draft given to the board by Jamie regarding missing parts. i.e. the good neighbor
clause, and says that it is not a complete copy, but very close and very good.
4. Tom requests that Bryan Bellanger be reconsidered as an alternate member of
the planning board. Chip asks Tom if he will speak to Bryan about whether he still
desires to be an alternate on the Planning Board, and will readdress it at a later
5. Tom Cashin requests a budget line of $1,000.00 - $2,000.00 be brought up at
the special town meeting so the planning board can make photo copies.
Tom makes a motion that the board asks for $2,000.00 at the special
town meeting for office supplies and/or copies. Yoli seconds.
Comments/Discussion: Chip thinks the board should know what we have in the
budget before we ask for more money, and also thinks it is a waste of money to
copy large documents for each board member. Chip feels that large documents
can be read in the office.
Vote taken on Tom’s motion: 2 For (Tom & Jim) & 3 Against (Chip,
Yoli, Keith) Motion is Denied
Larissa Crockett asks Chip if someone that is formally connected to the Planning
Board would be willing to invite planning board members from surrounding
communities, including New Hampshire, to take part in the meetings regarding the
Land Fill/Hannon project. Larissa will get a list to the Planning Board Secretary
of the towns she wants a letter mailed to, and she also offered to provide stamps.
Questions arose regarding whether a citizen can provide items such as stamps.
The secretary will check on this before any such donation is made.
6. Best Possible Location Permits (presented by Ken Paul) for John Burleigh, Map
132, Lot 2 at 4 Martha Horne Road. He wants to replace existing shed with a
new 10’ x 15’ shed in shore land zone, no closer to water than existing shed.
Motion made by Keith Davis to accept Ken Paul’s recommendation to
approve the Burleigh permit. Second by Tom Cashin. All in favor
Tom makes a motion to adjourn. Keith seconds. All in favor
Meeting adjourned at 9:51 p.m.