ZBA to Meet with Planning Board

At Thursday’s meeting of the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals, Chairman Richard Cutler said that communication lines have been opened between the ZBA and Planning Board regarding the tabling of the home business by-law at the Special Town Meeting on October 22

When the by-law was brought up for discussion and vote, Cutler read a prepared statement that was followed by a motion to table the article without any discussion.  The motion passed, much to the distress of the Planning Board, which had been working for over two years to create the amendment.

At their last meeting, the Planning Board said the ZBA did not make any effort to assist or comment on the process of drafting the amendment and the tabling of the discussion of the article came as a surprise.

Cutler indicated that he and Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson have tentatively agreed to a joint meeting between the two groups on Thursday, December 6.

In other business, the Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing for James Moraux of Snipatuit Road.  The applicant would like to install a deck on his property in his front yard that would link the main home with the guest-house.

“Because of that front yard location, the Building Commissioner denied the request,” said Attorney Emile Morad, who represented Moraux at the meeting.  He said that the Commissioner requested Moraux file for a special modification permit because zoning laws do not permit the construction of a deck in a front yard.

The deck would be used to help improve access to the guest-house for the sake of the applicant’s mother, who resides there.

“It’s not clear because the application isn’t filled out correctly.  We’re not even sure what we’re applying for with this,” said Cutler as he shuffled through the paperwork.

The confusion was compounded once the ZBA began discussing the history of the property.  Moraux had previously applied to construct a guest-house and garage with a retaining wall to provide support to the structures.  The ZBA had approved the project as long as they would remain separate structures, though questions remained about whether or not the wall could be considered an adjoining structure between the two.

With a workshop located on the second floor of the garage, the ZBA expressed concern that it may be able to be converted into a habitation.

“By building the deck, you co-join these two structures.  My feeling is that if we’re going to grant relief under this request, that we make sure there’s no other use for the garage,” said ZBA member Benjamin Gilmore, who was in support of the project.

“I’m not really keen on the idea of this creeping into something that was not intended so we can get around the by-laws.  I’d like to have it show that the garage portion will not be used for occupancy,” said Kirby Gilmore of the Board.

The Zoning Board of Appeals voted in favor of the project with the conditions that the deck would remain open and the garage would not be used for a dwelling.

The ZBA then held a public hearing regarding the variance petition of Robert Tavares of Sarah Sherman Road.  Tavares, who represented himself at the meeting, has filed to construct an attached garage to his home that comes into conflict with zoning by-laws because the dimensions were improperly staked out on the property.

“The Conservation Commission came in to see the property and they asked us to move the stakes because of a wetland issue,” Tavares said.

The area was later determined not to be in a wetland, but when the stakes were replaced, they were incorrectly located, affecting one corner of the lot by about three feet.  The garage construction is very far along, with the foundation poured and only two more inspections on the horizon.

“I think this is an unfortunate circumstance which was not intentional. Clearly it was originally set out to be located in the correct location, but as the result of issues with the Conservation Commission, the distance it’s off is only in one corner,” said Benjamin Gilmore.

The ZBA then voted to approve the petition for a variance due to the set-back mistake.

The next meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals will be on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Town Hall.

By Eric Tripoli

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