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December 14, 2010
TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION

Public Hearing #1581
December 14, 2010

***** Draft Document – Subject to Commission Approval*****


The Meeting was called to order in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT. at 7:02 P. M. by Chairman Ouellette.

ESTABLISHMENT OF QUORUM:

A quorum was established as four Regular Members (Devanney, Gowdy, Ouellette, and Thurz) and one Alternate Member (O’Brien) were present.  Alternate Member Mulkern was absent.   Chairman Ouellette noted Commissioner Thurz had been re-appointed to his position as a Regular Member but had been unable to be sworn in prior to this meeting.  Commissioner Thurz can participate in discussion but will sit out on votes made this evening.  Alternate O’Brien will join the remaining Regular Members regarding all votes made.  

Also present was Town Planner Whitten.

GUESTS:  Kathy Pippin, Board of Finance.

ADDED AGENDA ITEMS:

Town Planner Whitten requested addition of the Incentive Housing Zone Workshop under the BUSINESS MEETING or STAFF REPORTS.

No motion necessary.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES/November 23, 2010:

MOTION: To APPROVE the Minutes of Public Hearing #1580 dated November 23, 2010 with the following amendments:
Page 4, Paragraph 2, cinema, (IHZ STUDY WORKSHOP), last sentence:  “…..it requires extensive analysis due to the existing SITE conditions.”
Page 6, Paragraph 5, Parcel 15 – 21/Prospect Hill Road/Route 5 (now combined) – across from Cohoes  CRACKER BARREL:

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/
VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous (Devanney/Gowdy/O’Brien/Ouellette)


RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS:

Chairman Ouellette acknowledged receipt of the following Applications:

  • Application of SJK Properties (Skip Kement) for extension and modification of approved 48-lot subdivision (Quarry Meadows) located on the north side of Depot Street, to be constructed in 8 phases.  [R-3 Zone; Map 27, Block 77, Lots 6 & 9].
  • Application of Armster Reclaimed Lumber Co., for Modification of Approved Site Plan for property at 232, & 244-246 South Main Street, owned by All American Products Corp. and Balch Bridge Street Corp., to add a concrete loading dock to the existing building.  [M-1, B-2 & A-2 Zones; Maps 33/38, Block 5, Lots 84-1 & 87].
NEW BUSINESS:  Armster Reclaimed Lumber Co.Modifications of Approved Site Plan for property at 232 & 244-246 South Main Street, owned by All American Products Corp. and Balch Bridge Street Corp., to add a concrete loading dock to the existing building.  [M-1, B-2 & A-2 Zones; Maps 33/38, Block 5, Lot 84-1 & 87]   (Deadline for decision 2/17/2011):

Chairman Ouellette read the description of this Item of Business.  Appearing to discuss the Application was Jay Ussery, of J. R. Russo & Associates, representing the Applicant; also present were Klaus Armster, owner of Armster Reclaimed Lumber Co.; and Bob Angino, Architect for the Applicant.

Mr. Ussery opened discussion by giving a brief summary of the business location and functions.  The building location is over the hill at the identified location, and is not visible from the street.  The operation of the business takes used lumber and re-saws it into a useable product.  The current Site Plan includes an approved access aisle (fire lane) which allows movement around the site.  The Applicant has recently added a loading dock which extends 18’ off the back of the building, and now encroaches into the 20’ access (fire) lane. Addition of the loading dock now requires movement of the existing wood storage area in the proximity of the fire lane, and movement of the fire lane as well to accommodate proper turning distance for emergency vehicles at the corner of the building and to maintain the 20’ access road width.  Mr. Ussery indicated there is a 5’ area from the pad before the fire lane starts so they really have 25’ before conflicting with the loading dock.

Town Planner Whitten suggested this Application has involved a short approval process; the plans were received last week rather than the two weeks requested for the usual review timeframe.  The plans have been left in the Building Department for the Fire Marshal to pick up and review.  Town Planner Whitten indicated she didn’t believe the Fire Marshal has had time to pick up the plans; her biggest concern is that the Fire Marshal is happy with the changes.  Town Planner Whitten felt the plans had not yet been reviewed by the Fire Marshal.   Mr. Ussery concurred, noting the Fire Marshal had been involved in the original staff discussions.

Town Planner Whitten suggested Mr. Armster would like to open the business but there are things that need to be done before that can be done.  Mr. Armster reported he is not operating the business there presently.  He is trying to get a Building Permit; he has done everything the Building Official has asked.  The Building Official did a walk-through and said everything was fine.  Mr. Armster has been speaking with an electrician but he can’t use the building and get the final CO (Certificate of Occupancy) yet.

Commissioner Thurz questioned that this work has been done without acquiring a Building Permit – and now Mr. Armster is coming through for an approval on this Application?  Commissioner Devanney noted that the first time around the Fire Marshal had big concerns about the business; she questioned why Mr. Armster didn’t get the Building Permit and then come through the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC)?  Mr. Armster reported there was a misunderstanding between himself and the Building Official.  Originally there was a 20’ buffer before the fire lane started.  Only a small part of the loading dock is in the fire lane; Mr. Armster indicated he thought he could put something back there.  Commissioner Thurz suggested Mr. Armster needed drawings for the Building Department.  Mr. Armster reported the Building Official said the concrete pad back there isn’t an issue from his perspective.  Commissioner Devanney questioned if the Building Official stressed that Mr. Armster needed the PZC Permit?  Town Planner Whitten and Commissioner Thurz both indicated Mr. Armster has been through this process before and should have known the sequence.  

Mr. Angino reported Mr. Armster has one of the permits but the slab outside was an oversight; Mr. Armster thought he could just pour the slab for the building for the Permit.  Commissioner Thurz questioned that Mr. Armster had said that the Building Official had come out and asked for extra emergency lights?  Mr. Angino reported that the building was ok, then they found they needed the loading dock.  Mr. Armster reported he had to make major modifications to use the building which contained 14,000 square feet.  The largest space for storage is 12,000 square feet, the largest for woodworking without a sprinkler system is 2,500 square feet.  Because of the distance from the road they decided to make two separate buildings to become compliant.  The problem was the building in back was 3,300 square feet, which was still too big, so they moved that back wall and had to get concrete around the perimeter of the building, as well as remove the metal siding which made the space open to the outside.  There was also a drop of  2’ from the building to the road, which caused a hazard because if someone walked to the edge of the building they would be falling out of the building.  Soooooooo, they needed an exit door for the new building so they cut the foundation wall and put in a door and then they still had the 2’ drop, so Mr. Armster asked the Building Official what he could do.  Mr. Armster said the Building Official said “he didn’t really care what you do to get out” but Mr. Armster felt he may have misread that comment.  Mr. Angino suggested that from an operating perspective, to get the wood from the bigger storage building to the smaller area, they now have a sliding door to move the material through.  Commissioner Gowdy questioned if they still had a drop off from the slab?  Mr. Armster replied affirmatively, but noted it’s more obvious.

Chairman Ouellette questioned if the plans reflected the grades?  Mr. Ussery replied negatively, noting he would need to do spot elevations.  Referring to the plans Commissioner Devanney questioned if the small concrete pads were already there?  Mr. Armster and Mr. Ussery both replied affirmatively.  

Chairman Ouellette questioned if Mr. Ussery had read Town Planner Whitten’s memo (dated 12/6/2010) regarding concerns for the drainage patterns?  Mr. Ussery reported that the size of the pad is 18’ x 80’; the additional amount of impervious coverage is small/ negligible, especially where they are next to the Connecticut River and the channel encroachment line. Mr. Ussery indicated they are not affecting any riparian ownership of anyone else.  Town Planner Whitten reported her concern was never about the additional amount of impervious coverage; she read an excerpt from her memo, noting her concern was ponding from the pad/slab and how the flow is directed toward the catch basin, which is presently covered with wood stacks.  Town Planner Whitten also noted drainage patterns are not presently shown on the plans.  The applicant needs to show there will be no ponding between the slab/loading dock and the access road/fire lane.  

Mr. Ussery suggested the grades to the catch basin are at 40, 38, and 27 at the top of the basin.  He indicated he didn’t know if the top of the basin is covered with lumber.  He assumes it functions well.  Mr. Ussery suggested he could add a note to the plans that the “existing yard drainage must be maintained.”  Chairman Ouellette suggested this is a self-imposed problem for the Applicant.  Mr. Armster indicated that if the area ponds he won’t be able to drive his machinery through that area.  Mr. Ussery felt Town Planner Whitten’s concern was emergency fire access.  

Commissioner O’Brien questioned the condition of the access drive?  Mr. Armster suggested he put in processed material but it has been pushed in some; the surface is hard.  Town Planner Whitten indicated they need to have a proper distance for the fire apparatus to turn the corner, and presently the ramp sticks up 4’.  Mr. Ussery indicated they have left 25’ on the plans from the pad to the outside edge of the access road/fire lane.  He suggested a typical parking bypass lane is 12’ and 12’.

Commissioner Gowdy suggested the Applicant needs to get his ducks lined up with the Fire Marshal; he also felt the notation referencing that the “existing yard drainage must be maintained” should be added to the plans.  

Chairman Ouellette referenced the plan before the Commission, noting that it reflects various phases; he questioned which phase the Applicant was currently in?  Mr. Ussery suggested Mr. Armster is in Phase I.  Chairman Ouellette noted that Phase II makes a reference to a board fence, but he felt the fence had already been installed.  Mr. Armster replied affirmatively, noting that the second phase is near the cell(ular) tower but they haven’t started that phase yet.  Chairman Ouellette questioned that the fence is the same in Phase I and Phase II but is longer in Phase II?  Mr. Armster replied affirmatively.  

Commissioner O’Brien questioned if the Applicant would have to take down trees on the back side of the tower?  Mr. Armster replied negatively, noting he can’t use that area yet because it’s just grass.  

Chairman Ouellette referenced the plan again, noting Phase I shows wood storage at a maximum height of 20’ but the plan also shows a maximum height of 14’.  Mr. Armster suggested the first time they came through for approval they had 20’ on the plan.  Someone on the Commission (then Commissioner Tyler) was concerned that 20’ was too high, and Mr. Armster said he didn’t plan to go that high.  Commissioner Thurz suggested the stacks have been 30’ at times.  Mr. Ussery indicated that during the February 28th  approval the height changed under the Conditions of approval.  He suggested that the area of the back elevation is at elevation 40, and then the property drops off more.  Mr. Ussery felt the area in front is 15’ to 16’ higher than the back area; you can’t see the lumber or the building from the street.  Town Planner Whitten concurred, noting the building is built into the lower area of the parcel; the building can’t be seen from the road.  

Commissioner Gowdy reiterated his concern that modifications should be made to the plan prior to approval.  Mr. Ussery questioned if there was anything preventing Mr. Armster from moving the pile so the Fire Marshal can see it?  Town Planner Whitten suggested she would recommend that the Applicant move the piles so the Fire Marshal can see what you are doing.  She also suggested they clean up the access on the side of the building.  Commissioner Thurz indicated the Commission wasn’t trying to put the Applicant out of business, but everyone needs to follow the same rules.  Chairman Ouellette suggested the Application be continued to the January 11th, 2011 Agenda.  He suggested Mr. Ussery work with Staff regarding the notation to maintain existing drainage.  Mr. Ussery concurred, and noted he will review the past approval to get the heights correct.  Town Planner Whitten reiterated the need to work with the Fire Marshal before returning to the Commission on January 11th.  

MOTION: To CONTINUE the Application of Armster Reclaimed Lumber Co. for Modifications of Approved Site Plan for property at 232 & 244-246 South Main Street, owned by All American Products Corp. and Balch Bridge Street Corp., to add a concrete loading dock to the existing building.  [M-1, B-2 & A-2 Zones; Maps 33/38, Block 5, Lot 84-1 & 87].  Application is continued until the Commission’s regularly scheduled Meeting on January 11, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.

Devanney moved/Gowdy seconded/
VOTE:  In Favor:  (Devanney/Gowdy/O’Brien/Ouellette)   

BUSINESS MEETING/(1)  Farm Regulations:
Town Planner Whitten referenced the current draft, which has been reviewed through December 6th.  She suggested only minor changes have been made to clarify the definition of an agricultural building.  

Town Planner Whitten felt it was time to hold a workshop with the farmers.  The current budget lacks funding for individual mailers, but advertisements will be put in the paper, and the workshop will be noted on the Town website.  A Public Hearing will follow the workshop.  Discussion followed regarding the format of the presentation of the definitions and regulations.  

Review of the regulations found another section regarding the ability to grow crops in all zones using best management practices.  The workshop will be scheduled for January 11, 2011.

BUSINESS MEETING/(2)  Farm Buffers:

Town Planner Whitten suggested the last paragraph of Section 7.1.A – Agricultural Buffer Strips - talks about voiding the buffer if a neighboring property is developed as a non-farming property.  She indicated she queried other Town Planners via the List Serve and received varying comments.  She noted previous East Windsor Town Planner Don Poland had noted that usually with zoning if you (the farm) are the use that needs to be buffered you are the one that needs to put in the buffer; under this proposal we are requiring the opposite situation.  

Town Planner Whitten indicated buffers are based on the type of use.  The Commission discussed what types of uses would require larger buffers, i.e. growing crops vs. livestock.  Chairman Ouellette cited the ability to seek a waiver, and then gave various use and development scenarios and questioned who would be requesting the waiver?  As an example, he cited an adjacent property is a farm and is going to become a 30 home subdivision and you no longer have any need for that buffer, who comes in for the waiver?  Town Planner Whitten suggested making the buffer a private (homeowners association) Conservation Easement and it becomes part of the Open Space.  She felt the number/width of the buffer can change; if there is a natural tree line 50’ thick and they can’t touch that then it becomes a permanent buffer which is not useable by the homeowner for anything other than passive uses (no sheds, etc.) and may be subject to a lesser tax rate.  Chairman Ouellette questioned the need for a definition of the agricultural buffer strip in the Definitions Section of the Regulations.

BUSINESS MEETING/(3)  Right to Farm Ordinance:

Town Planner Whitten noted the Commission has approved the Right to Farm Ordinance; the ordinance is subject to review by the Town Attorney.

BUSINESS MEETING/(4)  Route 140 Sewers – tabled:

BUSINESS MEETING/(5)  Correspondence:

  • Letter from Attorney T. Mark Barbieri representing Shoham Road Transfer, LLC, including attached report of 4th quarter noise level prior to and after installing noise barrier at Volume Reduction Facility and Transfer Station at 9-11 Shoham Road.
Chairman Ouellette noted the noise level after installation of the additional material to create a noise barrier is at a level ranging from 52 dBA and 58 dBA.  In comparison 50 dBAs is the noise level of a tv or a noisy vacuum.  Town Planner Whitten noted the Planning Department continues to get weekly complaints regarding this issue.  Commissioner Thurz noted that during a site visit they noticed other homes closer to the facility than the neighbor submitting the complaints.  

BUSINESS MEETING/(6)  Staff Reports:

  • Town Planner Whitten discussed the organization/presentation of the workshop for the Incentive Housing Zone findings.
  • Chairman Ouellette noted that Blimpie’s continues to display their temporary A-frame sign – without benefit of a temporary sign permit.  Town Planner Whitten reported the Town lacks a Hearing Officer for these complaints/violations, therefore the Planning Department can’t send out the final violation letter as there is no Hearing Officer to launch an appeal with within the 30 day time period.  
SIGNING OF MYLARS/PLANS, MOTIONS:

  • T-Mobile – Plans and Motions
ADJOURNMENT:

MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 8:38 p.m.

Gowdy moved/Devanney seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

Respectfully submitted,

Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary, East Windsor Planning and Zoning Commission
(2,957)