Master Plan Working Session August 14th – RCL Notes

Printable version:  RCL Planning Board 8-14-13 Working Session Master Plan notes




Final Revision B – Provided by the Rye Civic League


Members present: Mel Low, Bill Epperson, Phil Winslow, Priscilla Jenness, Jerry Gittlein, Ray Tweedie (left meeting at 6:46 p.m.), and alternate Jeffrey Quinn (arrived  at 7:02 p.m.).  Also present:  Zoning and Planning Board Administrator, Kim Reed.

Mel Low, Chair of the Long Range Planning (LRP) Committee called the meeting to order.  Shortly thereafter, Sam Winebaum interrupted the Chair to inquire as to whether the meeting was going to be recorded via the online video streaming system, as scheduled on the Town website.  Mel Low stated that he had no problem with that.  Hearing no further comments, Kim Reed requested that the switch be turned on so that the meeting could be recorded.  Editor’s note:  the video begins at 6:03:34 p.m., after it was turned on.

(6:03:34 p.m.)

Mel Low stated that he has been a member of the Planning Board for fifteen (15) years  and emphasized that the Master Plan is a very important document.  He added that, particularly when you are challenged legally, if you can find something in the Master Plan that you can defend, you will win. .Bill Epperson stepped in to make a suggestion in terms of how to proceed with the work session.  He referred to Attorney Michael Donovan’s letter with his latest revisions of the Master Plan draft, dated July 24th.  He felt it would be helpful for the board to go through the list point by point.

Editor’s note: The RCL has obtained a copy of Attorney Michael Donovan’s letter from the Planning Department and is reproducing most of its content, as it was read/discussed during the work session.  As stated in the letter, Attorney Michael Donovan provided comments/revisions to the Master Plan draft back in December 2012.  In his July 24th, 2013 letter to the board, he states “ most of those comments have not been addressed.” He repeats them in an italicized format.  We reproduce herein the italicized format as it appears in the letter.)

(06:06:00 p.m.)

Mel Low proceeded by reading the first italicized comment on Attorney Michael Donovan’s letter:

Vision for future land use in the Coastal Area.  This has been the focus of the two most significant zoning proposals considered by the planning board in the past two years and also the subject of two recent very controversial ZBA proceedings (Sanders Redevelopment and WBTSCC beach club proposals).  Chapter 3.


Bill Epperson stated that this refers to 4.0 “Future Land Use” in the Master Plan draft, and that not much is being said to that effect, adding that language needs to be added in that section to address in a very broad way the WBTSCC [Wentworth by the Sea Country Club] and the Sanders Redevelopment.  He believes that the controversy is regarding the access to the harbor primarily and also an overreach by the WBTSCC to put, on a small piece of land, a big development. After hearing a few comments from the members, Bill Epperson suggested that someone work on a paragraph as they move on to the next point.

Mel Low changed the subject by stating that in his point of view the Town ought to buy land as a way of protecting against over development.  He talked about land behind the RJH and of his concerns about traffic.

Phil Winslow asked where the Future Land Use map was.  Mr. Winslow then moved on to mention the Winebaums’s submissions to the board. Editor’s note: Sam and Dominique Winebaum submitted two separate documents/letters to the board members providing comments and suggestions regarding the Master Plan draft.  Mr. Winslow stated that what is in the documents — and there is a lot of truth in it — is that part of Rye is semi-rural and the other part, which is the beach, is a not rural at all. He went on to say that we have a dichotomy here.

Priscilla Jenness used the word “coastal compact” to describe the area, which Phil Winslow thought was a good way of describing it.

Bill Epperson stated that the issue was regarding the bulk of the building on a small lot – that’s what it is all about.

Ray Tweedie disagreed saying that it was about metes and bounds and recognizing boundaries.  That is the issue, he said.  He proposed a couple of sentences that he had just written in regards to Attorney Michael Donovan’s first statement.  He stated:

“Our vision for land in the coastal areas is one of limited commercial development that utilizes the best practices of low impact development concepts.  While we understand that growth will occur, our vision is for growth without over bulking of lots and with minimum increase in impervious surfaces.”

Editor’s note: Ray Tweedie was the only member who voted in favor of the Major Site Development Plan by applicant Wentworth by the Sea Country Club (WBTSCC). The proposal was to demolish/rebuild existing tourist cabins and pizza restaurant/apartment building, with a new membership club and one existing cottage to remain (See January 17, 2012 Planning Board minutes.

Bill Epperson stated that he liked it.  He stated that he has also written a short paragraph and read it.  The members agreed on Ray Tweedie’s statement, which would go under “Future Land Use.”

Phil Winslow asked whether they should mention the fact that the N.H. State Senate has created a Commission, which is looking at the impact of development, such as storm water issues.  Should it be acknowledged that decisions from that Commission could have an impact on developments?

Editor’s note: Phil Winslow is referring to the newly formed Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission following the approval of NH SB 163, “to establish a commission to recommend legislation to prepare for projected sea level rise and other coastal and coastal watershed hazard.”  It should be noted that Phil Winslow was appointed as the Town of Rye representative to the Coastal Risk and Hazard Commission – at the BOS meeting on August 26, 2013.

Ray Tweedie stated that it belongs in the Natural Resources chapter, where they specifically talk about what the vision for our beaches is.  These are ongoing efforts.

Phil Winslow provided examples of possible scenarios having a direct impact on zoning when the new Flood Maps are adopted, such as having to raise buildings and subsequently having to deal with height issues, such as the 28’ maximum height.

Mel Low added that it should be the responsibility of the building inspector – an extension of his thoughts.

Bill Epperson read the second, italicized item from Attorney Michael Donovan’s letter:

Town’s approval of extending Portsmouth sewer franchise to Foyes Corner and future development of Foyes Corner and Sagamore Rd. (north) corridor. Chapter 3.

Kim Reed suggested that they could just go to the 2010 warrant article and add the wording from the warrant article describing the approval of the extension of the Portsmouth sewer.  Editor’s note: she is referring to Warrant Article 13 on the 2010 ballot.

(06:21:31 p.m.)

Bill Epperson read the third (italicized) item:

The very important role of the Sewer Commission and the issue it struggles with – extensions and expansions of existing public sewers.  Chapter 9.

Members of the board spent some time looking for it in the Master Plan draft.

Mel Low asked what they are going to say about sewer expansion.

Kim Reed stated that a new section will have to be created at the end of chapter 9.

Kim Reed replied that she will have to work with the Sewer Commission as they don’t have anything in the draft Master Plan.

Priscilla Jenness stated that there is a constant dilemma about expansion and mentioned Dan Brown’s property, which was not in the Sewer District.

Kim Reed stated that perhaps they ought to reference the boundaries and she will work with Lee Arthur and the Sewer Commission.  A map was referenced from the origin of the sewers regarding the sewer boundaries and expansion and could be used to clarify what is in place.

Phil Winslow stated that an expansion of the sewer would impact the current semi-rural character of the Town.  He asked whether it could it be stated that we are comfortable with the current system.

Bill Epperson suggested that some language could be added to describe what the Sewer Commission does and also include some of the struggles they have had.

Ray Tweedie stated they could leave the door opened by saying that it may need to be entertained in the future for the safety of the environment and our residents.

Bill Epperson, Priscilla Jenness and Mel Low were against that idea.

Kim Reed said she would follow through on that item as discussed.

The CIP process.  Chapter 9.

Kim Reed asked why were they skipping the Growth Control Ordinance.

Bill Epperson replied that it was because they were already on Chapter 9.  

Phil Winslow was not sure what Attorney Michael Donovan meant by the CIP process. Editor’s note: Phil Winslow the Planning Board’s representative on the CIP Committee.)  He asked if there was something specific about the CIP process in the draft Master Plan.

Kim Reed replied in the negative.

Kim Reed suggested that they should create a new bullet point for the CIP, under “9.0.”  One of the members will provide something in writing to that effect.

Afterwards, the board went back to discussing the third italicized item on the list

The existing Growth Control Ordinance. Chapter 4.

Kim Reed stated that the definition was in the back of the Rye Zoning Ordinance.

Ray Tweedie found it under “Growth Management, 900” in the Rye Zoning Ordinance and read the section “Authority and Purpose” of the Growth Management Ordinance (Section 900).

Bill Epperson suggested creating a prologue introducing and referencing the Growth Control/Management Ordinance in the Master Plan.  It was suggested that it would be inserted under “Overview” in chapter 4.

The members went on to discuss the following italicized item on the list:

On scenic roads only those roads which were existent at the time the warrant article was passed (1973?) are scenic roads.

Bill Epperson stated that he guessed Attorney Michael Donovan was referring to chapter 5.  Not all roads in Rye are designated as scenic roads.

Board members could not find the statement dealing with scenic roads in the Master Plan and Bill Epperson offered to look for it so that they could proceed with the other items.

At that point, Ray Tweedie stated that he had found the statement relating to “scenic roads,” “For many, the roads of Rye are part of the rural character worthy of preservation as evidenced by the town’s enactment of the scenic roads provision of RSA 231:58” (p. 5-5).

Bill Epperson stated that they ought to clarify by adding the date “prior to 1973” to designate the scenic roads.

The next italicized item was read:

The workforce housing text needs updating to reflect the zoning amendments enacted in 2010. (page 4A-3).  Chapter 4.

Kim Reed stated under Recommendations on page 4 A-7, item # 3 needs to be removed, as it has been created.

A statement was added under 4 A-1, to reflect that the Town adopted on March 2010 two workforce housing ordinances.  Kim Reed will add a description.  A new paragraph will be added under “Providing Reasonable Opportunity.”  Some of the statements in the chapter will be removed to reflect that the zoning ordinance has been created and adopted and no longer needs to be adopted.

(06:53:06 p.m.)

Epperson read the next italicized item:

Somewhere it needs to be mentioned that the master plan does not apply in the Rye Beach Precinct.  See Comment 3, below.

Priscilla Jenness stated that is should be in several places in the Master Plan, such as in the Demographics chapter.

Bill Epperson suggested adding some language in the Vision chapter to clarify that the Master Plan does not apply to the Rye Beach Precinct.

The Rye Beach Precinct has its own Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Master Plan.  One member asked when the Rye Beach Precinct Master Plan was last updated.  According to Priscilla Jenness it was quite a while ago.  Editor’s note: The RCL has determined that the Rye Beach Master Plan was updated in 2005, but unlike the 1986 Rye Beach Village Precinct Master Plan, which is available on the Internet, the 2005 plan appears to be available in hard copy format only, for a sizeable fee.  According to NH RSA 674:1 (I), the planning board must update and amend the plan “from time to rime” with a recommended timeframe of every five to ten years.

Board members moved to the next list of comments/corrections from Attorney Michael Donovan’s letter, which were itemized by numbers – and not italicized.

  1. Chapter 2 provides several summary statements about demographics.  In several instances the supporting tabular or graph data typically found in master plans is not provided.  The board may want to consider providing the data in the appendices.

Kim Reed stated that Ray Tweedie had taken out some of the data.  She also stated that it was not that critical.  Bill Epperson suggested that Ray Tweedie should review the chapter and get back to the board.

  1. 2.      Chapter 3: The above comment also applies to the bulleted summary statements at the top of p. 3-2.

It was stated that this was Curtis Boivin’s chapter. Editor’s note:  Chapter 3 is Land Use. Curtis Boivin is no longer a member of the Planning Board.

After some discussion took place, Kim Reed asked the members what the Committee wanted to do with chapter 2 and chapter 3.

Bill Epperson agreed that it was incomplete information.

Kim Reed stated that she would be following through with Michael Donovan.

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 3.      Chapter 3: In the third paragraph of introduction, the second sentence might be replaced with: “Within the boundaries of the Town of Rye, the Rye Beach Precinct has exclusive authority for planning and zoning.  It has its own planning board, zoning board of adjustment and Master Plan.”

Jerry Gittlein stated that they have already taken care of it.  They will add Attorney Michael Donovan’s terms.

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 4.      Chapter 3: As you know, the Future Land Use Map is missing

Kim Reed stated that it will be added afterwards and it comes from RPC (Rockingham Planning Commission).   Some of the maps were copied and some were not included as part of the draft Master Plan.

There was quite a bit of discussion – and confusion – about the maps (future/zoning) and how to find them. Editor’s note: the Future Zoning Map is on page 3-6 of the 2006-20099 Rye Master Plan and was created by the Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC) in 2002 for the Open Space Committee.

  1. 5.      Chapter 3: p. 3-11, second bullet. Do you mean “We will aggressively address options for conservation development.

Bill Epperson believed there was a typo as it said “conservative.”  The board discussed that it was meant to be “conservation.”

Priscilla Jenness sought that Attorney Michael Donovan misread it.  It was agreed to leave the word “conservative.”

(07:14:10 p.m.)

Bill Epperson read the following item:

  1. 6.      Chapter 4: p. 4-9.  Consider adding to last paragraph: “…or that the asset and income limitations, which town voters control, are set too low.”

It was decided to update the data.  If the information for 2012 is available, it should be updated to reflect the latest data.

  1. 7.      Chapter 4A: As noted above (prior comments), it still appears that this chapter has not been updated to reflect the affordable housing zoning amendments enacted in 2010. For example, the last sentence of the third paragraph of p. 4A-2 and the following paragraph are outdated.

Kim Reed asked if they had not talked already about that.   It was agreed that it had already been dealt with.

  1. 8.      Chapter 4A: In this regard I strongly suggest that somewhere the statements be made that the planning board believes that Rye’s zoning now complies with the statutory requirements as a result of the 2010 enactments.

Kim Reed added a statement to reflect that the Town now complies with the statutory requirements with the adoption of the affordable housing zoning amendments.

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 9.      Chapter 4A: The third paragraph states “(see map).” Which map?

Kim Reed believes it is referring to the “Future Land Map” and it will be added and referred to when the Master Plan is complete.

Phil Winslow suggested that is should be referred as “Future Zoning Map” as well.

  1. 10.   Chapter 4A: The referenced RPC Housing Needs Assessment table is missing.

Kim Reed stated she will add the table and ask Glen from the RPC for that information.

(07:24:31 p.m.)

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 11.   Chapter 6: p. 6-4. F Street. I have lost track of what happened with signage after I wrote my 9/12/12 memo.  Check to be sure this statement is accurate.

“F Street – Is a public street and has access to the beach at the end. There are two signs at this location, one to name the street, the other for “Beach Access” (p. 6-4).

Kim Reed stated that it was only for pedestrian use and that it was not for cars.

Bill Epperson asked if the beach access signs had been removed.

Kim Reed replied in the affirmative, however, she stated that there was still beach access, but not for cars.

Bill Epperson stated that the Town had a beach access sign there, and then some of the homeowners reminded them that “Myrica–by-the-Sea” back whenever it was, the Town never acquired the road legally.   Editor’s note;  Mr. Epperson is referring to the 1971 court decision involving thirty-one residents of the Myrica-by-the Sea west of Ocean Boulevard who brought suit against John Prendiville, a C Street abutter, for blocking public access.  See Rockingham Planning Commission Town of Rye, Public Shorefront Access Study, August 1984. In other words, the court decision was regarding “C” Street and not “F” Street.

Kim Reed reiterated the fact that it was a public street, which has access to the beach at the end – pedestrian only. They will change the language.

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 12.   Chapter 6: p. 6-13, last paragraph.  Isn’t the CLD amendment enacted in 2010 a cluster?

Kim Reed replied in the affirmative.  Kim Reed then stated that the RCD was not part of the CLD.  She found an error in the last paragraph at the bottom on p. 6-13.

Bill Epperson asked what Attorney Michael Donovan was asking.

Kim Reed stated that she believes that Attorney Michael Donovan is confusing the CLD with the RCD.

One member asked what CLD stand for.  Kim Reed replied that it stands for Conservation Land Development.  The CLD is for workforce housing.

Kim Reed then realized that the date in the last paragraph was wrong and replaced “2010” with “2008.”  She then clarified that in 2008, they passed the RCD and in 2010, they passed the cluster housing provision.

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 13.   Chapter 6: In the Table on Impervious Coverage Solutions (p. 6-19) consider adding: “Allow narrower street widths” and “Amend building codes to require drip beds, rain barrels and other infiltration devices for structures.”

This will be added under the proposed solutions in the Table on Impervious Coverage Impervious Coverage Solutions (p. 6-19).

Priscilla Jenness asked about adding rain garden.

Kim Reed stated that she had two recommendations.  One is to add streets and pavements on the left (threats) and the right (proposed solutions) to allow narrower street widths and to add another sentence that says amend building codes to require drip beds, rain barrels and other infiltration devices for structures.

(07:37:05 p.m.)

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 14.   Chapter 6: Did you want to say anything about strengthening the  Flood Ordinance? and/or make a statement about not adopting TB-11.

Kim Reed stated that it was on page 6-24.  Bill Epperson asked if the new Flood Maps were available and Kim Reed replied “not yet.”  Board members acknowledged the need to add a sentence to reflect that the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) will be amended in 2014 and adopted in 2015.

Editor’s note: At the August 26th, 2013 BOS meeting, Peter Rowell, the building inspector, made a short presentation on the “Updated Flood Maps.”  Peter Rowell stated that he, along with Kim Reed, had been invited at the beginning of August to view the new Flood Maps at UNH.  Peter Rowell stated they were only able to view the new Flood Maps briefly and that the new information was overlaid over the old information, which made it difficult to make specific determinations regarding the changes to come.  However, he made the following statements in terms of projecting an overall picture of what is to come: there will be increases in the base flood elevation across the town with some of them being substantial, and by substantial, he meant that it will be 3 feet and in some cases 4 feet; the benefit of a lot of the sea walls will be lost, namely the sea walls and shale piles will not offer the protection that they have offered in the past; a lot more properties will be coming in the VE zone, which is a velocity zone, which is potential wave action; the AO zone will become AO1 – with a lot of the AO1 moving to the AO3.  After the AO3, there is the VE zone.  All the zones will be moving up.

Peter Rowell stated the preliminary Flood Maps will be coming out in September or October for review by the Town and the community review, with a 90 day period to review them.  Town Administrator, Michael Magnant, interjected “we are being told to brace ourselves.”  Once the new Flood Maps are adopted, many of the buildings, which are now in compliance, will be out of compliance. Such buildings will not be grandfathered and there will be a five year period to bring those buildings into compliance.

In addition, Kim Reed added a new sentence “Based on the new Maps, the Town may strengthen its current Flood Ordinance.”

Phil Winslow changed the word “may” with “is expected to.”

The board did not discuss “TB-11” other than explaining what it stood for – technical bulletin 11, crawl space for buildings located in the floodplains and that’s “what got the Town in trouble.”

Editor’s note:  In 2010, the Planning Board discussed adding “TB-11” to the Rye Zoning Ordinance.  This matter was discussed at the August 10th, September 14th, and November 9th 2010 Planning Board meetings.  According to the minutes, members of the board were in favor of “not allowing crawl spaces,” however Attorney Michael Donovan recommended  “leaving the Zoning Ordinance alone” and no changes were made to the Zoning OrdinanceAttorney Michael Donovan’s rationale for not changing the Zoning Ordinance was “If the Ordinance is clarified to say that no crawl spaces are allowed it will become more strict than the Flood Insurance Program Requirements. There are some limited circumstances to allow below grade crawl spaces.  He does not feel this is the intent of the Board.  He recommends leaving the Zoning Ordinance alone.” (Planning Board minutes, November 9, 2010.)

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 15.   Chapter 8: The HDC is a “land use board,” not a “zoning board.”

They agreed with that and that it had been taken care of.

They referred to Mae Bradshaw’s new section on Historical and Cultural Resources.  Later in the discussion, the board discussed where to put the new section.  Kim Reed stated that the content would be reviewed later.   Bill Epperson stated that it was a good document and a good addition to the Master Plan.

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 16.    Chapter 8: The Recreation tables are outdated and should be updated.

Bill Epperson stated that they have been revised and updated them.

Bill Epperson moved on to item “18”

  1. 18.   Chapter 9: The school tables are way outdated.  E.G. Most current enrollment data is 2005-06.

Kim Reed will follow through with Jeanne Moynahan who is a member of the Rye School board.

The board went back to item “17” which they had inadvertently skipped.

  1. 17.   Chapter 9: The Police Workload and Transfer Station tables should be updated.

Bill Epperson believes that both Kevin Walsh and the DPW had updated their respective tables.  Kim Reed will follow through.

(07:49:40 p.m.)

Bill Epperson read the next item:

  1. 19.   Chapter 9: Section 6.0 Recreation is duplicative of the material in Chapter 8.  One or the other should be eliminated.

It was decided that it would go under “Municipal Services” and be referenced in the Civic Life.

  1. 20.   Chapter 9: On water systems, there is no discussion of the fact that the dense part of the coast is served by a private company, Aquarion, whose rates are governed by the PUC.  There may well be an important looming problem of aging infrastructure here.

Priscilla Jenness suggested that they should ask Aquarion for a Map of their water distribution through Rye. She thought the Rye Water District might have something similar.

It was suggested that the item be referred to the Water Department.

The board completed discussing all the points from Attorney Michael Donovan’s letter and began talking about how to proceed next.

(07:57:00 p.m.)

Mel Low stated that there were only a few minutes left and asked if there were questions from the public.

Mae Bradshaw asked if the board was going to have another reading of the new section on Historical and Cultural Resources.

Bill Epperson stated that in his opinion the document has been well vetted and that it was informational.  He added that, if the Chair of the LRP desires it, we may go through the document page by page.

Victor Azzi asked the board members if they could explain to the public what the next steps were.

Kim Reed stated that the board “was so far behind” and not ready to have a public hearing despite Mel Low’s intent to do so.  First, they need to review the draft and determine if the format is acceptable and then she will have to  notify the public through a legal notice.  In other words, the current draft is not ready for a public hearing.

Victor Azzi asked if the draft/finished product will be made available to the public prior to the public hearing.

Kim Reed stated that it has been made available to the public all along.

Victor Azzi asked if public comments will be taken into consideration and possible revisions made at the time of the public hearing.

Mel Low replied absolutely – of course.

Bill Epperson stated that for instance the Winebaums have submitted to the board several pages of suggestions and additions and those will be taken into consideration.

Victor Azzi asked what the likely timeline for this to happen was.

Kim Reed asked when the board would schedule their next meeting.  Mel Low did not know and asked when the members would be available to meet.

A work session was planned for September 3rd, 2013.  However, the Chair of the LRP Committee will not be available.  The board decided to move on and will not meet on Tuesday, September 3rdEditor’s note:  It appears that the next LRP meeting has now been scheduled for September 24, 2013 at 6:00 p.m

Jo Ann Price asked if the board could provide a rationale as to why there had been no visioning sessions for the public prior to the public hearing.  She also asked if it was correct that no old data from 2005 will be included in the updated Master Plan.

Mel Low stated that visioning sessions were not part of this Master Plan update.  The Master Plan was updated from the point of view of the Planning Board.

He stated that he did not feel it was necessary to have visioning sessions.

Bill Epperson reiterated that the data will be updated as it is made available to the board.

(8:06:13 p.m.)

After Mel Low indicated that the document was not ready for public review, and that he had been “going” since early that morning, everyone got up.  The meeting adjourned without a formal motion, at least one that appears on the video recording.