Zoning Board Continues Hearing

In what proved to be a bit of a sticky wicket, Mattapoisett’s Zoning Board of Appeals continued the hearing of Mary Flaherty’s application. Flaherty came before the ZBA to request permission to build a new home at 4 Woodlawn Avenue on a lot that is non-conforming. Presently, the lot has a small deteriorating shed and utility building that she plans to either demolish or relocate on the parcel. The new home would then be situated primarily outside the flood zone and thereby not require pilings. Both architect Steve Keller and engineer Robert Field made the case for their client that the new home would not negatively impact the site or the abutting homes. The proposed residence would have a footprint of only 700 square feet and overall 1500 feet when the two-story home is completed. To accommodate the FEMA requirements, the planned home would be 16.2 feet in elevation and 28 feet tall at its highest point. Flaherty’s petition requested use of historic setbacks. Her plan has already cleared any wetland issues through an earlier conservation commission hearing. However, the abutters are not pleased.

Carol Helliwell of 6 Woodlawn Avenue was the first to object, stating that the computer-generated rendition presented by Keller that demonstrates how the proposed home will fit into the neighborhood was misleading. She said that while the drawing makes it appear that there are empty lots between the homes, in reality the homes would only be 50 to 70 feet apart. But her bombshell moment was when she told the ZBA of lot line movements that occurred at the time she purchased her home from the Flaherty family. She said that at that time, a Form A involving the changing of existing lot lines had been enacted, challenging the applicant’s right to use historic set-backs or a grandfathered lot. “This new home will loom over my house,” she declared.

According to Andy Bobola, Director of Inspectional Services for the town, a Form A is the creation of a lot with frontage on an existing roadway. He told the board that his office had not uncovered any activity of this sort regarding these properties, but needed additional time to follow-up on Helliwell’s assertion.

David Ross of 2 Woodlawn Avenue, whose property abuts the other side of the Flaherty’s parcel, also objected to the construction of the new home. He said that the property has never been used as a residence; rather, it was always just a campsite used infrequently by the Flahertys. “They were only there once last summer,” Ross stated. Although there is electricity going to the parcel, there are no other services.

Bobola suggested to the ZBA that they continue the hearing to give his office and other town offices an opportunity to research any Form A documentation filed with the town. Although it is rare that the ZBA continues a hearing, on this night they elected to do so in order to give the petitioner and the building department ample time to provide clarity in this matter.

Clearing all hurtles earlier in the evening, Denise Cassese received approval to build a new home on a site located on Harbor Road. This lot has not been built on previously and required permission for use of grandfathered frontage and setbacks. With no objections from the public, the application was unanimously approved.

The Mattapoisett ZBA meets again on April 17 at 6:00 pm in the Town Hall meeting room.

By Marilou Newell


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