House Plans Bent out of Shape by Odd Lot

            The Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals questioned a petition for a variance for a property located on Pine Island Road in its meeting held on May 21.

            Applicants Charles and Karen Duponte met with the board seeking a petition for a variance. The variance would allow the applicants to construct a 2,600 square foot home on the lot in question.

            The lot, at Prospect and Pine Island Road, is certainly unique. Created in 1965, the lot does not adhere to the current zoning laws that were updated in 1973. Most lots from that period are grandfathered in and enjoy unique status under zoning laws. However, this particular lot exceeds 29,000 square feet. The extra footage prevents the lot from qualifying for the grandfathered status.

            David Davignon, representing Charles and Karen Duponte, clarified that there was no other lot like this in the neighborhood. He went on to add that the situation is made more unique by the fact that the lot is located on the corner of two streets. This means it has to adhere to two different zoning standards.

            “If developers from 1965 could have known about the zoning change, they would have changed the shape of the lot,” Davignon told the board. “This petition for variance would allow the lot to be used for its intended use.”

            The goal for the Duponte family is the construction of a home on the lot. That construction would be stifled by current zoning laws. Adhering to current zoning regulations, the home would have to be built so narrowly it would appear closer to the shape of a trailer than a conventional house.

            “Other orientations of the house would make it difficult to fit into the neighborhood because porches and decks are also added into the zoning figures,” said Davignon. Members of the neighborhood echoed the sentiment that a petition for a variance would be more beneficial to the community than an oddly shaped home.

            Associate member Norman Lyonnais agreed that the variance may be beneficial to the community. “I agree that something should be built that will enhance the area. A lot of things happen when you buy property; you don’t want something shaped like a trailer in the area,” he said.

            Charles Duponte explained that he was confused with the conditions of the property when he purchased the lot and expressed his historical ties to the neighborhood.

            “We have always loved the historical nature of Pine Island Road,” said Duponte. “We didn’t understand the ramifications when we purchased the lot. At some point, our hope is that someone will build on it. We have historical backgrounds in building and we want to do the right thing for the lot. We are really fond of our historical neighborhood, and that’s why we are here.”

            Despite the positions put forth by the applicants, the board questioned whether there was sufficient hardship required for a variance to be issued.

            “It would be a hardship for the neighborhood to have an oddly shaped trailer house. It would degrade the quality of the neighborhood,” said Davignon, arguing his case.

            After hearing the viewpoints of the applicants, the board ultimately decided that the case was not sufficient to issue a petition of variance and voted unanimously to deny the variance.

            With the topic occupying the majority of the meeting settled, the board went on to address the remaining public appeals relating to the issuing of special permits.

            Maureen St. Armand put forth a request for a special permit to address a change in ownership at the property located at 20 Crooks Way. The appeal was issued to request permission to transfer ownership of a family-related apartment to a new homeowner.

            “This is a simple case. We have a change in ownership, and the zoning bylaws require the owner to come in and get a permit for a change of ownership,” Chairperson Susan Akins explained.

            Seeing as the permit was more of a formality, the board unanimously passed the motion to allow the issuing of the special permit to St. Armand.

            Paul Frisco, represented by David Davignon, came before the board to attain a special permit for the construction of a family apartment at 9 Second Street. The apartment is an addition to the applicant’s garage in order to provide a living space for his son.

            The family apartment was shown on a set of original plans that were approved by the board in 2018. That said, the original permit issued by the board only related to the construction of the garage and not the in-law apartment that also appeared on the set of original plans.

            “The garage was approved to be built in 2018, and the new construction has begun. We are here this evening to get the family apartment shown on the original plans approved,” said Davignon.

            Clerk Mary Brogan suggested that the plans seemed unorthodox. She expressed concern that certain components of the plans seemed to be added only with the intention of being interpreted as meeting the criteria for an in-law apartment.

            The addition of an in-law apartment to an existing property requires that the addition be connected to the property, and it must appear as if the property is still one, single building. After reviewing the plans, members expressed concerns about the adherence to the plans to current zoning laws.

            “It looks like a breezeway was only added to conform with the bylaws. It looks like separate buildings with only a hallway connecting them,” said Brogan.

            Frisco and Davignon both assured the board members that the two entities will be properly connected and that the only reason for the confusion was due to the representation of the project on the plans. Satisfied with their justifications, the board passed a motion to allow the construction of the new apartment.

            The next Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 23.

Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals

By Matthew Donato

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