By-law Amendments Removed

After months of meeting, rewriting, debating, and studying, the Mattapoisett Planning Board’s amendments to several zoning by-laws will not be brought before the voters during the spring annual town meeting.

Chairman Thomas Tucker was surprised to learn that this deletion had taken place during the special public hearing of the board on April 30. He had arrived at the hearing prepared to incorporate changes offered by town counsel and suggestions from the public. However, according to board member John Mathieu, when Secretary Tammy Ferreira sent out a message to board members at the behest of town counsel asking that the amendments be removed from the warrant, only he had responded. Mathieu then spoke to town counsel, who suggested that more time was needed to write amendments for voters’ consideration, so rather than hurry through public hearings and rewrites days prior to town meeting, Mathieu agreed with counsel. Hence the amendments were removed.

Now with the entire summer available to write and re-write by-law amendments, Tucker opened the floor to discussion of any and all by-laws. He explained, on several occasions during the meeting, that the Planning Board was only attempting to make the by-laws more concise and user friendly, easier to work with, and less confusing. He reiterated that all they could do was offer the town suggested text changes and that it would be up to the voters – not the board – to adopt them.

The by-laws the board has worked on to date are: signage, screening, parking, trailers, and common driveways.

On the topic of signs, board members made it clear that they were attempting to eliminate internally-illuminated signs wherever possible. They concurred that signs could be grandfathered, repaired, or maintained, but that if a change of use transpired then a newer by-law (yet to be written or adopted) could eliminate an illuminated sign at that location.

Parking was discussed from a commercial viewpoint that gave rise to Paul Osenkowski’s questions regarding parking in cluster housing developments. Mathieu told Osenkowski that with special permitting, the board had the right to waive any number of restrictions. Osenkowski has been making the rounds of several town boards and committees seeking information on the Brandt Beach cluster housing project known as Brandt Point Village. The developer has been seeking permission to eliminate two bedroom houses from the original plan and make all the homes three bedrooms. This request has caused the Planning Board to consider requiring an entirely new set of plans rather than a simple amendment to the original plans.

Osenkowski has been vocal in his concern that not only will increased waste water issues be detrimental to the area, but the increased number of cars to an already busy roadway will be adverse as well.

Mathieu said that when the development was first permitted, they were required to provide four off-street parking spaces and two garaged spaced for a total of six. He felt that even if the developer receives permission to change the original bedroom layouts, the number of parking spaces is sufficient as it currently stands.

Mathieu said that the Village Condominiums cluster housing development was an example of not having enough parking planned for the normal use of the residences. He said that in the future, the board would be looking at things like this for better solutions.

On the theme of parking, there was discussion about locations such as the village and beach communities where off-street parking was already non-existent. Andy Bobola, Director of Inspectional Services, asked that if a village home was torn down would the board then look for a new plan of the site to include off-street parking. The board members felt that in some instances off-street parking would be problematic even for a new build, so special consideration will have to be made.

Regarding the Marine Residence by-laws that Brad Hathaway wished to discuss, Tucker said that at this time they are not suggesting amendments to that by-law, but when it does come up for discussion, “we’ll have to hold that hearing in the school … that will be a disaster … we’ll need more space.”

Bobola brought to the attention of the board that the Flood Plain by-law will be brought up at town meeting because of a simple typographical error. FEMA will not accept the town’s language until the error is fixed. The correction requires the town and its voters to be aware of and to vote the change through. Thus, it will come before the voters as a ‘housekeeping’ matter.

The board discussed various text improvements from suggestions offered by the four people in attendance at this first public hearing.

By Marilou Newell

Brandt Point Village Hearing Postponed

Mattapoisett Planning Board

            Brandt Island area residents came out in force on May 6 for the public hearing on permit amendments requested by Brandt Island Realty Trust to their Brandt Point Village cluster housing project. The principals of the trust are seeking to amend their permit to reflect a change in the number of bedrooms. The present permit allows a percentage of the homes to be three-bedrooms. The developer wishes to make all the homes three-bedrooms, thereby increasing the number of people living within the compound. The developer also plans to upgrade the septic system to accommodate the increased number of people.

However, the abutters and others residents living in the beach community aren’t pleased. They are concerned that traffic will be exponentially increased with the additional bedrooms and that waste water treatment, even if state-of-the-art, will not be sufficient to ensure the cleanliness of the ocean water nearby.

Chairman Tom Tucker was concerned that the number of people in attendance exceeded the fire code for the meeting room at town hall and said he would postpone the hearing until a larger venue could be secured. Not everyone was pleased with that, and some asked how many people needed to leave in order to meet the code requirement. Seven people volunteered. But Tucker hesitated when it was brought to his attention that not everyone had been officially notified of the hearing that was originally scheduled for May 5 but which had been moved to May 6 without benefit of another public hearing notice being posted. After conferring with the applicant and town counsel during a recess, Tucker returned to say that the hearing would, in fact, be postponed until May 19 at 7:00 pm. The venue will either be Center School or Old Hammondtown School. He advised interested parties to contact the Planning Board Office for confirmation of location prior to the hearing date. A new public hearing notice will be posted at town hall.

The balance of the agenda was two informal discussions. The first was with Patricia McArdle, representing the family owning 9 Hillers Cove. She came before the Planning Board to seek their guidance on how best to proceed regarding the permanent establishment of a deed for lot #6 at that address. After some discussion, it was determined that she should file an 81X sub-division plan. The parcel had been sub-divided in the 1940s, but documentation had never been sufficiently completed. The board will sign off on the plan once submitted by the applicant.

Also coming before the board for another informal decision was Brad Saunders, representing Bay Club. There are three issues at hand on which he sought their guidance before going further. Those issues are: 1) establishing 20% of new units to be built in the future with zero lot lines for the building of duplexes in which the owners will also own the land on three sides; 2) changing by-laws to allow a general business zoned space to be used for cluster housing; and 3) a by-law change that would allow industrial zoned spaces to be used as open spaces. He said that should the developers’ plan be approved in the future, building would only take place once public sewer service was available.

It was the consent of the board members that at least two of the items needed to go before the voters during town meeting because they involved by-law changes. Regarding zero lot lines, they decided that counsel would be consulted for determination if the board could permit duplexes of this type or if another course of action was necessary.

The next scheduled meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is May 19 at 7:00 pm at a venue to be announced next week.

By Marilou Newell


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