Planners approve meeting house move

by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
October 30, 2013
NEW DURHAM — The New Durham Planning Board discussed the moving of the New Durham Meeting House, lighting/dark skies regulations, the Master Plan and ridgelines during its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Attorney Arthur Hoover came before the board on behalf of Russ Weldon regarding the moving of the New Durham Meeting House.

The building is owned by the Merrymeeting Lake Association, but the building is physically located on property owned by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

Hoover explained the plan to move the building to Cove Cottages, which is property owned by Weldon. Hoover said Weldon is willing to pay to upgrade the building to meet current health and safety codes so it can once again be used as a meetinghouse.

Board members reviewed the plan and member Dot Veisel questioned the historical aspects of the building. Mark Sullivan, the Merrymeeting Lake Association President, said the building couldn't be designated as a historical building on the federal level, but the building's historic value can still be kept. Angela Pruitt, an abutter, expressed concerned about the location of the driveway. Hoover said the driveway permit would be reviewed by the road agent.

Hoover questioned the board about the moving of the building being a natural expansion of the business. Dave Bickford questioned the percentage of impervious surface of the lot after the proposed changes.

The board approved the moving of the building to Cove Cottages. Member Paul Raslavicus felt that the move wasn't a natural expansion of the business and language was removed from the motion. The approval included limiting the increased impervious surface of the parking lot not to exceed 20 percent of the lot limit and the code enforcement officer confirming all pertinent regulations have been met. Chair Bob Craycraft amended the motion to include that the parking area will be designed by a licensed engineer and the board approved the amendment.

The board reviewed changes to the lighting/dark skies regulations, several changes were suggested and the board agreed to discuss the issue at the next meeting.

Veisel passed out a revised copy of the Historic and Cultural Resources section of the Master Plan. Veisel and Terry Chabot, an alternate on the board, agreed to work on the Transportation section of the Master Plan.

Raslavicus talked to the board about his proposed ridge and forested slope development and skyline protection document. He said the document would be inserted into the subdivision regulations if approved. Vice-chair Scott Drummey expressed concern about previous use, which restricts development on land that was timbered until tree growth occurred. Bickford questioned the section regarding buffer area and said he believed there may be a liability issue requiring a 30-foot buffer zone between the building envelope and the property line, Bickford said if a tree falls onto another person's property and causes property damage or hurts another person, you are responsible.

Sullivan questioned how the regulation affected pre-existing non-conforming lots. Drummey questioned how the regulation would be enforced. The board asked Amy Smith, recording secretary, to contact the code enforcement officer to get his opinion on the issue. Board members urged Raslavicus to remove the section regarding agriculture and re-write the section regarding previous use.

Craycraft signed the conditional use permit notice of decision and plans submitted by Susan Drady, as information requested by the board has been added to plans including a revision date.

The board approved the minutes of the Oct. 1 meeting.

The next scheduled meeting of the New Durham Planning Board is on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. at the New Durham Library.

Tim Croes can be reached at or 569-3126

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