June 12, 2014 Minutes

These minutes were posted by the Zoning.



ITEM 1. Call to Order at 7:00 P.M. by Carole Dodge, Chairman

ITEM 2. Roll Call

Members Present:

Carole Dodge (CD), Chairman, John (Pat) Heffernan (PH), Vice-Chairman, Denis Beaudoin (DB), Scott Aubertin (SA), Albert Douglas (AD), Alternate and Delores Fritz, Recording Secretary.

Members Absent:

Paul Metcalf, Sr. (PM)

Albert Douglas (AD) Alternate seated on the Board.

ITEM 3. Approval of Minutes of May 22, 2014

(PH) Motion to approve Minutes of May 22, 2014.
(DB) Second. Carried 4-0. (AD) Abstain.

ITEM 4. Continued Public Hearing with respect to an application for a Variance filed by Joseph & Polly Cortese, 51 Dowboro Road, Pittsfield, NH 03263 (Tax Map R41, Lot 10) to allow Home Occupation to increase the employment limit up to thirteen (13) employees at 51 Dowboro Road, Pittsfield, NH 03263. Property is owned by Joseph & Polly Cortese at said address and is located in the RURAL Zone.

Joseph Cortese and Atty. Mark Hodgdon were present.
(CD) This is the thirty day continued Public Hearing which was continued from the last meeting to research suggestions, different ideas, and other avenues in regard to doing what we can to assist the Corteses’. Our Ordinances do not allow us to grant a Variance with a term limit attached. The Variance runs with the property and not the property owner. There is no history of ever making stipulations on Variances.

So, I guess it would be up to this Board to decide. Are there any additional questions? We have had thirty days to look into this matter.

Atty. Hodgdon: Mr. Cortese has now found a location for the business and is requesting Board continue/table this matter for ninety days. He would need about thirty days to close on the property – thirty days to retrofit it and about thirty days to move in. After that time, we will withdraw the application. He does need this time to close the deal and move his operation.

(CD) Congratulations !

Atty. Hodgdon: We would not be requesting a Variance after that time.

(PH) What happens after ninety days if this is not all in place?

Atty. Hodgdon: It is our expectation that ninety days will be sufficient to move his operation. (PH) What about his coming in after thirty days to let us know the progress. If the deal falls through after two months, then what are we going to do?

Mr. Cortese: This does not put a hardship on the Town in any way. We are presenting this in good faith in trying to move which can be difficult for us. The pressure is on us. We need to really re-invest in the business rather than trying to move. We are trying to do the best we can. I hope you see the sincerity of our motives.

Atty. Hodgdon: Let me remind the Board that his neighbors do not object to his being there. (CD) I understand that. We are looking at what we need to do to follow this. You have to understand that we as a Board are in a tough position.
Mr. Cortese: We can work together on this. It is a process. Quite a few big businesses started in garages. We do have good intentions. We know you face extraordinary pressures. We have the best intentions.

(DB) Where are you moving to? Mr. Cortese: Down by the “waterfall.” We need cash flow for renovations, security – which is a huge expense – and we need to re-invest in the business. Summer is a slow period for us. I could lose it all tomorrow.

(DB) Is this an appropriate time span – that would be my concern? I would feel more comfortable if you would give use your timetable. I would like to know in a month where you are in the process. It is important for us to know that.

Mr. Cortese: I am happy working with you. I have invited you all to come and see the operation. We might close on the building tomorrow or maybe not. I would like to see you table this for ninety days.

(CD) In about thirty days, we want to know if you are able to move ahead and the status of your progress. Atty. Hodgdon: Can we do this in the form of a letter? (CD) Possibly. Mr. Cortese: Come and look at the place. We are happy to work with you. We have no secrets. We need to both show a little latitude.

(PH) This has been going on since January and this is not the Town’s problem.

Atty. Hodgdon: The Town told us to apply for one thing and you are now telling us something else. You, Mr. Heffernan, should have been involved on both Boards. The Town shares the responsibility if you come right down to it. We could raise some real issues. He related that (PH) should not have been anywhere that this was discussed. You are a person who heard information prior to it being discussed here. (PH) I disagree with you on that.

(DB) This Board is not a court. We are here with an issue with a decision to make regardless how it got here. I would like to get back on track with this.

Mr. Cortese: I agree. I think there is a lot of miscommunication.

(CD) Since our last meeting, the Board has done what it could to find a solution. We are not against working with you whatsoever. I would like to hear from the rest of the Board as to other options as well as the ninety day continuance. (SA) I do not think ninety days is a lot to ask. (AD) Are you asking for ninety days total? Atty. Hodgdon: We are asking to allow him to be in the other location in ninety days. (AD) If it happens, what are your next steps? Mr. Cortese: We need to move the business, take care of security which will be our first area of focus; the place needs fixing up and there are a lot of things to think about like moving half the business at a time by looking at the budget. (AD) You would still be working partly out of the garage and partly out of the new building? Atty. Hodgdon: It possibly would be phased.

Mr. Cortese: We are doing what we can in a responsible manner as possible. Atty. Hodgdon: We have a Purchase and Sales Agreement which is pending. Mr. Cortese: We had looked at this property previously and dismissed it because we could not afford it. We would rather grow the business and move a year from now, but we have no other alternative.

(CD) The other option which was suggested by Mr. Houle would be to negotiate a six month promissory note which caught my attention. However, the Board cannot take promissory notes for six months but the Board of Selectmen can. I could go to the Board with that. We do want to support businesses in Pittsfield. This is an idea that has been suggested and not completely thrown out. Mr. Cortese: I appreciate that and thank you for your efforts. (CD) Hopefully, this will not be necessary.

Atty. Hodgdon: We are requesting you table this with a ninety (90) day deadline so we can comply with these things and then after that time, we can withdraw the application for the Variance. That would be our goal. I would be happy to send a letter as soon as they close and Board can act accordingly. Atty. Hodgdon: I would be happy to keep you up-to-date on their progress.
(PH) We would just like to know that you are moving ahead. Mr. Cortese: We are moving ahead as fast as possible. We will be hiring more employees though there are some uncertainties. It will be up to the current property owner as to what we can do in advance. (DB) So this should be in place in about thirty days and then a couple of months after that you will be up and running. Mr. Cortese: We are looking for a seamless transition. (DB) In the worst case scenario, you should be up and running in ninety days from now. If you could provide a letter to the Board within thirty days of closing and keep us updated on the progress of the move, it would allow us to know where you are at in the transition. Mr. Cortese: There are a lot of things to address with this move. (SA) Considering where we were thirty days ago, I do not think this is asking too much.

(CD) We can continue this to a date certain. Atty. Hodgdon: When I know the closing date, I will advise you.

(DB) Motion to table this till September 11, 2014 at 7:00 P.M. with the stipulation that thirty days from today, Joseph Cortese provide the Board with the progress on the building purchase and move.
(PH) Second. Carried: 5-0.

(CD) Board will meet on September 11th at which time you can withdraw your application for a Variance.

ITEM 5. Members Concerns

Jesse Pacheco, Building Inspector: I am the Building Inspector and also a representative of the Zoning Board and Planning Board and am the one that finds out what the applicant wants to do. Mr. Cortese came in because of parking of cars initially and ultimately, chose to come in for the Variance. As a Town, we worked with him on this otherwise at some point he would have been asked to Cease/Desist. This Variance was discussed with LGC, Town Attorney, Planning Board and Zoning Board to see if we could find a way to keep your business where it was. The applicant came to me with the Variance for the increased employees. You asked me “What are my choices?”

I tried to work with you and not be on one side or the other but wheels turn slowly. You asked in December (2013) about this and went to the Board of Selectmen. You cannot go for a Variance for more than four employees but it was your choice to do so and you still had to go for a Special Exception as well.

My issue is that we are trying to work with the public and not shut you down. I do not know if we should just note that this is what is allowed and say this is it. Do we try to work with the applicant or just relate what the Ordinances dictate?

Atty. Hodgdon: In March we met with the BOS and followed their suggestions. We did what their letter said and it has caused a great deal of frustration and which was incorrect. Citizens do what the Town asked them to do and another entity feels it is incorrect. We tried to do what the BOS asked and do exactly what they asked.

Jesse Pacheco: You did not submit paperwork when you should have. Many times people ask for something and they do not know what they are asking for. I am trying to work with the citizen. So, do we work the applicant or just go by the letter of the “law.”

(AD) Not speaking for the Board of Selectmen, I do sit on this Board and I knew you were only allowed four employees. The fact that you have been in town for twenty years, you should have known that the Ordinances say “four employees.” Mr. Cortese: Sometimes disagreement is good. If the Town wants to work with their citizens to help them find the answers they seek, that is good but if not, then you should follow the Ordinances only.

Jesse Pacheco: I would like this Board to think about this and discuss. The All Boards meeting might be a place to discuss this. (CD) All the boards need to work together.

Atty. Hodgdon and Joseph Cortese left meeting at 8:12 P.M.

Publication Fees:

(CD) We currently charge advertising fees of $75 to applicants but the last few notices it has been noted that we pay more than that for the advertising fees. Looking at that, I am wondering if we should increase the advertising fees to $85-$90. Once we decide on the increase, we need to bring it to the BOS for approval.

(PH) Motion to approve increasing publication fees to $90 for Zoning Board applicants. (SA) Second. Carried 5-0.

Zoning Ordinances:

(DB) Not to beat a dead horse, and not knowing the Board’s history on this, but wouldn’t this whole issue be moot if citizens knew what the Ordinances requested. Isn’t it the responsibility of the citizen, before going into business

to get the required information about going into their business? (AD) That exact statement was brought forward by the Chair and discussed. I believe that the citizen should be responsible. (DB) Then it falls within our duty not to just be compassionate but also use common sense which creates a structured process. I do not like to be the one to get rid of jobs. I just wanted to apply my vote as a “No.”

Jesse Pacheco: He should know what he was in violation of but he wanted to submit Variance for eleven employees. He said he was a businessman, but should have been familiar with the Zoning Ordinances. He came in asking if there was a way to have it happen and then I did not hear from him till he heard from the Board about parking on Town property.

(PH) The bottom line is that the Corteses’ have made this the Town’s problem. He does know and was looking for a “softer way.” The Town has put in the rules to be enforced. We have got to say this is not okay. I think we should have asked him to come back in thirty days and that it is not a mistake that we tabled this for ninety days. (CD) He has until September 11th and will come in then and there will be no additional continuances. (SA) We tabled this and it is giving him some time but after ninety days, he is done. Jesse Pacheco: When this all started, he was slow on doing his part. I believe he is working on it and hoping that the procedure works.

(PH) I want him to succeed and do the right thing. We are trying to do what is right for the Town. I do not believe that I have been prejudiced in any way about this. (CD) He has been helped as much as we can all the way through.

ITEM 6. Public Input


ITEM 7. Adjournment

(PH) Motion to adjourn. (AD) Second. Carried 5-0.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40 P.M.

Approved: June 26, 2014

_________________________ ___________________
Carole Dodge, Chairman Date

I hereby certify that these Minutes were recorded by me on June 12, 2014, transcribed and public posted
On June 18, 2014.

Delores A. Fritz, Recording Secretary

Olympus: 1:32:00