Pico Beach Construction Permit Denied

A seemingly routine agenda presented two contentious items for the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals to consider at their meeting on Thursday, November 17.

The board reviewed an application from Diane and Alan D’Orlando, for a property located at 52 Pico Beach Road. The applicants sought a special permit to demolish an existing house and reconstruct a two-story dwelling on the same cement-pillared foundation.

David Davignon represented the applicants, and presented plans to the board for the project, which would include a second floor, add dormers and increase the three-bedroom home to five bedrooms.

The home was built in 1972, according to assessor records, and met the necessary 50-foot frontage, but set backs were tight, making assess to the structure during construction, and the final project, a point of contention for abutter Heather Hobler, who was represented by her attorney, Marc Deshaies.

Ms. Hobler showed the board pictures of lumber that had been stored on her property by the applicant.

“While [the applicants] talk about building from the deck, there’s going to be trespass onto neighbor’s property,” said Atty. Deshaies.

“They are already on my property,” said Ms. Hobler. “They have left lumber on my property. They left sawhorses on my property… [the applicant] lets people park on my property. When I talk to him about it, he tells me to call the police.”

The property under review, besides having a one-foot setback from the Hobler property, is also on an eight-foot wide road, abutting water and conservation land. Despite this, the Conservation Commission had approved their portion of the project.

Abutters in the audience expressed concerns about how the narrow road could not support additional traffic, and was prone to clogging and narrowing due to excessive parking at the property during the summer season, when it is used as a rental.

“What we are talking about is expanding a structure… that has been historically used for financial gain during the summer,” said Atty. Deshaies. “People are going to start parking on the roadway which will create a detriment.”

“Sometimes in the summer, I have to call the police because there’s beer bottles. There’s people parking on my property, sitting on the beach,” said Ms. Hobler, who said that a larger home would only increase traffic to the home and contribute to the parking issue.

“I have serious concerns about what you refer to as Pico Beach Road,” said neighbor Justin Kelleher. “It’s not a road. It’s not stable… it floods in the wintertime and in the rain. It’s subject to occasional breakthrough from the bay. Increased traffic on it is a real problem. I don’t know how this [application] floated through the Conservation Commission, but it somehow did. It’s going to affect the wildlife. It’s going to affect the vegetation and it doesn’t belong there.”

Still, the applicant’s attorney urged the board to consider the parameters of the application and not the fact that the house is used as a rental in the summer months.

“It takes up no more of the lot. It can be accomplished without trespassing on anybody’s property. I’m not here to throw stones, but there are plenty of complaints between the applicant and the [complaining abutters],” said Atty. Johnson, who pointed out that the application presented no increase in lot size or change of use.

Building Commissioner Andy Bobola presented to the board a portion of bylaw that requires new projects to not impact nearby uses, have adequate roads and drainage and not make an impact on the natural environment.

Chairman Susan Akin questioned the board as to whether they were considering the application differently in light of the fact that the applicant used the home as a rental.

“It’s a valid concern on behalf of an abutter and it’s subject to your purview,” said Mr. Bobola.

“I think I’ve heard everything I want to hear,” said board member Norman Lyonnais. “It’s too dense and it’s going to be detrimental to that area.”

The board voted to deny the permit, except Chairman Akin, who voted against the denial.

In a second contentious application, the board met with Francis David Jones regarding his property at 38 Fairhaven Road. Mr. Jones came before the board for permission to use his commercially-zoned building for residential purposes. Mr. Jones said that he was going to try to renovate the dilapidated building, but if he discovered extensive rot, he would have to demolish it.

Hearing the word “demolish” for the first time in regards to the application, Mr. Bobola quickly informed the applicant that demolishing would require an additional permit. The board amended the application to include the demolition verbage.

Mr. Bobola and the board said that they knew the building in question and were in support of renovation, calling it “an eyesore”. However, two abutters in the audience expressed concern that the project would fall by the wayside and the applicant would just use the property for storage for his business.

“We’ve had to look at this property for years,” said abutter Gail Kaloplastos. “My neighbors and my biggest fears is that if he starts to demolish, he won’t finish it… right now, that property is an eyesore.”

“It’s an eyesore. It’s been ramshackled for years,” agreed Cheryl Belknap, another abutter.

But Mr. Jones insisted that he would work to finish the three-bedroom ranch so he could rent it out, adding that he had property at the Industrial Park for his business and that he would not make the property into Section 8 housing.

“I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve seen what can happen. I own my home. It’s my future, it’s my equity,” said Ms. Kaloplastos.

In deliberation, the board showed support for the project.

“You’re taking down an eyesore,” said board member Ken Pacheco.

“I don’t have a problem with this project at all,” agreed Mr. Lyonnais.

The board approved Mr. Jones’ application.

Applications that required less deliberation from the board included:

• An application from William and Sandra Hewitt of 6 Brierpatch Lane, Mattapoisett for a special permit to change a non-conforming garage by changing the roofline and adding a dormer for storage. The uncontested project was unanimously approved with little discussion.

• An application for Emma Marie’s Grooming, care of business owner Johnelle Roderick, located at 19 County Road. The applicant sought a special permit to allow overnight boarding of cats and dogs, to include an outdoor run for dogs and a cat room to house no more than five cats. After hearing positive feedback regarding the applicant’s business practices, the board approved the project application.

• An application for Grace McGee of 142 Fairhaven Road, Mattapoisett, to obtain a special permit to use an existing cabin on her property as habitable space. The cabin had been used in the past for seasonal occupancy, and would be renovated for an elderly resident’s comfort, so her son and daughter-in-law can live in the main house and assist her. The board spoke favorably of the proposal and approved the application.

• An application for Patricia McLaughlin for a property located at 6 Shipyard Lane. The applicant sought a special permit to remove a non-conforming, 120 square-foot older shed and replace it with a low-lying, 360 square foot one-car garage. Despite two letters of opposition from abutting neighbors, the Minevitz family, and the Henderson family, the board also considered the positive words spoken from neighbor John Garber, who said that the change would improve the neighborhood, and that the applicants did not have an overly dense lot. The board, therefore, approved the application.

By Anne Kakley

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