A local homeowner will be prohibited from operating a business on his property after the Derry Zoning Board of Adjustment denied him a special exception.
Joshua Lane, owner with Jordan Doherty under the name Chester Road Realty Trust, appeared at the Jan. 7 Zoning Board meeting to ask for the special exception to operate his roofing business at his property at 115 Chester Road.
The property is PID 12020 and is zoned Low Density Residential. The 2.6 acres are the former property of the late Robert Young, a noted gardener and the “Waving Man” who waved to motorists on Route 102.
Lane read the criteria for a special exception, including:
• It is his legal residence and residential use was established in July 2015;
• The proposed use will not be “injurious, noxious or offensive” and will not produce “odor, fumes, dust, smoke or vibration;”
• Proposed use will not exceed 25 percent of the property;
• It will not change the residential character of the neighborhood;
• There will not be more than one sign, no more than 3 square feet in diameter; and
• There will be sufficient off-street parking.
Lane told the board he currently operates his roofing business out of Hampstead, but with his purchase of the Chester Road property, he wanted to move it home.
He said the operation would involve the parking of trucks and a small amount of work in a home office.
Used roofing shingles and other trash would be trucked directly to an asphalt recycling facility and not brought home, Lane said, and all roofing would be done off-site. He would store unused shingles on pallets in a shed at his residence, he said.
Board chair Lynn Perkins asked Building Inspector Bob Mackey, “Why are they going for a special exception instead of a variance?”
Mackey said it was a special exception because the business would be a home occupation.
Board vice-chair Allan Virr asked Lane how many vehicles would be parked, and Lane said there would be three pickup trucks, one with a dump body, and one 28-foot trailer.
Board members immediately began questioning the “home occupation” piece, with Teresa Hampton saying, “It shows in your application that all you’re looking for is a home office, and now we hear there will be trucks in the yard.”
Lane said he assumed the trucks would be part of the package.
“Parking three work vehicles does not sound like an office to me,” Virr said.
Home Occupations under the Zoning Ordinance allows for contractors, Mackey pointed out.
In the public hearing portion of the meeting, neighbors and abutters expressed concerns about the business.
Eleanor Sarcione said, “I am not in agreement with this. My understanding is that this area is a farming and agricultural area,” she added, referring to the proximity of J&F Farms.
Sarcione is a neighbor, not an abutter, and when board members asked her how she was “aggrieved” by the proposal, she said, “I drive by there every day and all the trees are gone. It looks like a bomb went off.”
Sarcione also noted a blind curve on the way to Chester, and said a truck hooked to the 28-foot trailer “would be the length of an 18-wheeler.
“With J&F Farms, there will always be traffic,” Sarcione pointed out.
Nulifer Harris and her husband, Jared, said they moved to this part of Derry five or six years ago because of the rural character. “We can see the lot from our house, and there are a lot fewer trees,” Nulifer Harris said.
The couple has four children, the youngest 5 1/2, and traffic is always a concern, she said. “It will change the whole environment,” she said.
Jared Harris said the speed limit on Route 102 is “not well-observed,” a sentiment agreed with by board member Steve Coppolo.
Nulifer Harris said Lane’s business was already well-established. “Let us enjoy our land,” she said.
Her husband said, “I support entrepreneurship, but not at the expense of the surrounding properties.”
And if the project is approved, Nulifer said, “I hope three trucks don’t turn into seven.”
The tree removal and other changes to the former Young property also concern Jared Harris. “I am concerned for our property values if this goes in,” he said.
Chester Road resident Michael Gee agreed. While he plans to “stay in my house till I die,” he said he’s also keeping an eye on property values in case he changes his mind.
“I don’t like to stop young people from being entrepreneurial,” Gee added.
Hampton, a licensed Realtor, said, “This may or may not affect your property values. It depends. It doesn’t mean your house won’t sell.”
Virr, whose career in banking included real estate appraisal, agreed. “Whether a business can affect the value of a property is really in the eyes of the potential buyer,” he said.
Lane acknowledged that he was doing some landscaping, with the plan of having a yard, but added, “With any kind of work comes a mess. I do the clearing in my free time.” He said he intends to stay at the property, and will “invest in the aesthetics” over time.
Lane told Coppolo that he starts his trucks at 6 a.m. and has one truck that makes “a little bit of noise,” but he doubted it could be heard next door.
“The loudest part is the air brake,” he said, and “that’s no different from the trucks at J&F Farms.”
To Hampton’s question about mechanical work, he said any repairs and oil changes would be done off-site. However, he said, he and his three employees will most likely wash the trucks there “because no car wash is big enough.”
Lane added that he will leave the trailer at the job site unless the crew has just finished a roof.
“How will you get it into the driveway?” Perkins asked.
Lane said he planned for a wide driveway and a circular design.
In the deliberative session, Virr expressed concern about the road. He used to live in the neighborhood, he said, and saw two neighbors killed. “Cars come over that rise, and if a truck and trailer are pulling out at the same time, it could be a problem,” he said.
“I am sympathetic about the trees being cut, but that’s a red herring,” Coppolo said. “It has nothing to do with the application.”
VIrr said of the nine criteria for a home occupation, he had problems with two of them. “Number three, injurious, noxious, offensive? There is bound to be noise and fumes,” he said. “And number five, not change the residential character? This would.”
After discussion, the board voted 1-4 against approving the application. Hampton based her refusal on the third criteria, saying, “It will be offensive and noisy. There’s a safety issue, and it will affect the residential character.” Coppolo said it would be “injurious, noxious and offensive,” and Heather Evans said approval would change the residential character. Virr said approval would be “against the public interest” because of the character of the road.
Perkins was the only affirmative vote.
Lane was informed he has 30 days to appeal the decision.