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Wolfeboro planning board approves new zoning ordinance for Center Street corridor

During the 4.9-inch snowfall on Dec. 17, Strafford Police Officer Chris Dustin took this photo of downtown Wolfeboro cushioned in snow, ablaze with light, with the Christmas tree lit in front of Black's Paper Store. He shared it with Lt. Dean Rondeau of the Wolfeboro Police Department, who graciously shared it with us. (click for larger version)
December 26, 2013
WOLFEBORO — The Wolfeboro Planning Board finalized changes to the Center Street/Route 28 N Mixed Use Business District zoning corridor on Dec. 17, concluding a more than two-year process that included two well-attended public forums – one in June of 2011, the other in July 2013 – and the required public hearings for each modification along the way.

The Dec. 17 meeting, a continuation of the hearing that began on Nov. 19, resulted in approval of the 13th draft of the zoning document. Changes will be included on the 2014 warrant for voter acceptance.

Throughout, permitted uses have been discussed with the primary concern being protection of the water quality of adjacent Crescent Lake and Lake Wentworth and the aesthetics of this so-called gateway to Wolfeboro.

Recent changes include the exclusion of laundromats, dry cleaning establishments and/or onsite laundry services; the addition of arboricultural services by special exception; and the deletion of inns from the list of special exceptions.

The special exception category is for those uses not automatically included that require discussion on the particular request in an attempt to earn board approval.

In order to protect the rail/trail corridor, there is the requirement in the zone for vegetative buffering or architectural screening. Further definition of what is suitable includes one streetscape tree planting for every 30 feet of frontage and spaced every 30 feet.

Laundromats, dry cleaning establishments and/or onsite laundry services were excluded in response to concerns expressed by members of the public and the board about the possible contamination of the watershed by the chemicals used in their processes, including phosphorus, which is known to encourage algae growth, and the volume of water employed.

The board heeded member Paul O'Brien's suggestion for modification of the original motion, that is, to include those cleaning establishments that performed their services off site.

All were in favor of the original motion as amended, with John Thurston abstaining.

Resident Kirk Titus, a Licensed Certified Arborist of Bartlett Tree Expert Company, asked the board during its Nov. 17 hearing to consider adding Arboricultural Services as a use permitted by special exception.

Bartlett Tree Co., which employs nine full time staff, is currently located at the corner of Route 28 and North Line Road. Titus said the company needs a larger space and desires to relocate to the property currently owned by Trites Automotive, but it does not meet the definition of horticultural establishment.

In the case of Bartlett Tree operations, all the services are performed off site and are horticultural in nature. It represents a less intense use and has no products for sale on site. Materials, such as fertilizers and other chemicals, are stored onsite in a small, federally approved storage unit, which is inspected annually by the state.

The new facility would allow for storage of company trucks inside a building.

Roger Murray, representing the Lake Wentworth Foundation and the Lake Wentworth Association, noted that it would be a good reuse of the property and that the Trites property is currently an area of concern listed in the Lake Wentworth Crescent Lake Watershed Management Plan.

The board voted to include Arboricultural Services as a use permitted by special exception with Thurston opposed and Dugan abstaining.

Inns, previously allowed by Special Exception were deleted from the list. Issues raised as having a negative impact were lights, traffic, noise, large septic systems, and large parking lots.

Murray spoke in favor of keeping inns closer to town where town infrastructure such as water and sewer systems can support their activity. Linda Murray commented that the Economic Development Committee has established two Economic Revitalization Zones and suggested that Bay Street would be a good place for an inn. She remarked that recent improvements to Foss Field and the Glendon Street parking have improved the view across the bay.

The motion to delete carried with a 4-3 vote, with Thurston, Harriman, and O'Brien opposed.

The entire Center Street/Route 28 N Mixed Use Business District proposal may be viewed by online of the town's website.

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