OLD LYME ZONING COMMISSION
Monday, December 12, 2016
The Old Lyme Zoning Commission held a Regular Meeting on Monday, December 12, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of Memorial Town Hall. Those present and voting were: Jane Cable, Chairman, Jane Marsh, Secretary, Alan Todd, Gil Soucie and Paul Orzel. Also present was Keith Rosenfeld, Land Use Coordinator, and Stacey Winchell, Alternate.
At 7:30 p.m., Chairman Cable called the Regular Meeting to order. She noted that John Johnson has resigned from the Commission and Paul Orzel is his replacement. Chairman Cable noted that all Regular Members are present this evening.
Ms. Marsh expressed her appreciation to Mr. Johnson for his years of service. Chairman Cable agreed and noted that she was saddened doing the annual report as she noted that each year it seems they lose another long time member. Ms. Marsh made a motion that she would like the Commission to make a thank you resolution; seconded by Chairman Cable and voted unanimously.
1. Special Permit Application, 49 Hillcrest Road
A motion was made by Jane Marsh, seconded by Paul Orzel and voted unanimously to set the Public Hearing for January 9, 2017.
2. New Business - Referral from the Planning Commission - Proposed amendment to the Plan of Conservation and Development
Harold Thompson, Chairman of the Planning Commission stated that one change deals with Zoning. He stated that people with structures in the flood zone need to increase their homes’ height in order to spend more than 50% of the current value of the structure in renovations and repairs. He stated that the Regulations state that the maximum height in an R-10 zone is 24 feet. Mr. Thompson stated that the FEMA flood chart, for a 100 year storm, the water will reach 10 feet above mean sea level. He noted that the Town Regulations require an additional one foot. Mr. Thompson stated that people are then faced with going to the Zoning Board of Appeals. He indicated that the procedure for a variance requires that the paperwork be submitted by the first Friday of the month for review the
following month. He stated that the Zoning Board of Appeals meets the third week of the month so the applicant must wait almost two months. He stated that the proposal is to allow the increase in height to the FEMA required height without going to the Zoning Board of Appeals. He noted that the Zoning Board of Appeals has not denied any application for an increase in height to meet FEMA standards. Mr. Thompson stated that a home to be rebuilt or repaired must stay within the same footprint and envelope.
Chairman Cable stated that the wording of the amendment says stay within the same footprint, not the same envelope. Mr. Thompson agreed and noted that may be a good comment to send the Planning Commission. Ms. Marsh noted that this would be a giant waiver for the R-10 Zone as almost the entire R-10 Zone is in the Flood Zone.
Chairman Cable stated that throwing out the review by the Zoning Board of Appeals seems like a drastic way to speed up the process. Mr. Rosenfeld stated that the amendment is only for the rebuilding of R-10 zone homes to meet FEMA standards. Chairman Cable noted that the Regulation should say that then.
Ms. Marsh stated that she has a different view because she has seen two rows of homes lost since she has lived in Old Lyme. She stated that water will come and it has probably come in 100’ in White Sands in her lifetime. Ms. Marsh stated that water is progressing and it is eroding the coast line. She noted that the area is a doomed area and it reminds her of New Orleans. Ms. Marsh stated that it is not a smart thing to encourage people to spend a lot of money in this area to avoid the inevitable. Ms. Marsh stated that the 24 foot in height regulation is to protect the homes to the rear.
Chairman Cable stated that there is a desire to put hardscape on the immediate shoreline and there is a desire for a living shoreline. She noted that there are not techniques for addressing living shoreline and then the last line says the first priority is building. Ms. Cable stated that they are leaving no discretion to the other Land Use Agencies. She stated that she does not think it is proper to make a declaration such as this.
Mr. Thompson stated that if the Commission members do not agree with some of the amendment, the Planning Commission would appreciate feedback. Mr. Thompson stated that they consulted with Keith Neilson from Docko.
Chairman Cable stated that preservation of the shoreline and living shoreline are mentioned only once in the amendment. She indicated that she spoke with Torrance Downes and most of the things he started telling her were about resilience. She stated that the preservation of the shoreline part was missing. Chairman Cable stated that salt marshes can give protection. She noted that there are two concerns; the life of the shoreline and the plight of property owners. Mr. Thompson agreed and noted that this is why they sent the amendment out for comment. He stated that he wants to hear what the other Commissions have to say. Chairman Cable stated that Inland Wetlands and the Conservation Commission would have participated in the amendment, as well as the Zoning Commission.
Ms. Marsh stated the houses in Westbrook and Clinton on the shoreline are a good example of what happens when a Town just says yes. She suggested that the Planning Commissions take a drive and look at those areas. Ms. Marsh stated that eventually there will be no water between structures and the mean high tide line and then it will have a large effect on the general public.
Chairman Cable stated that a process that would better control rebuilding would be for the Commission to require a Special Permit. She stated that there needs to be an examination of what is happening rather than just opening the gate.
Chairman Cable stated that a variance requires a hardship that is unique to the property. She noted that requiring a Special Permit may be better in handling the height increases to meet FEMA requirements.
Mr. Orzel noted that there are not many homes in Old Lyme that have gone to the Zoning Board of Appeals for height relief due to FEMA requirements; he stated that he would guess approximately 50. Mr. Rosenfeld stated that he only knows of ten or so.
Mr. Thompson stated that they set a Public Hearing for January but they do not have to move forward. He indicated that he is looking for comments such as those he has heard tonight. Chairman Cable stated that she thinks the Boards should all get together and discuss as they all have something to do with conservation and construction in wet areas.
Chairman Cable suggested that the Commission Members think about the amendment for a month and continue their discussion at the January Meeting. Mr. Thompson acknowledged this to be a good idea, noting that some Boards do not hold meetings in December.
3. Old Business - None
4. Approval of Minutes – Minutes of September 12, 2016
A Motion was made by Jane Marsh, seconded by Paul Orzel and voted unanimously to approve the Minutes of the October 11, 2016 Public Hearing and Regular Meeting.
Chairman Cable stated that Dr. Miller is located next to the parking lot of the Academy and this should be clarified in the minutes under the Enforcement Report.
5. Correspondence - None
6. Zoning Enforcement Report -None
Proposed regulation change to protect aquifers and well heads
Mary Jo Nosal, thanked the Commission for listening to the Chairman of the Planning Commission. She stated that the Commission is taking the matter seriously and she agrees that all Boards should discuss together before action is taken.
The meeting adjourned at 8:33 p.m. on a motion by Jane Marsh, seconded by Paul Orzel and voted unanimously.
Susan J. Bartlett