Business zipped along smoothly at the February 18 meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals.
The most difficult case of the night was a request for a variance sought by Richard Morgado and Mary Lank, 20 Harbor Road. The applicants had previously received a special permit to construct an addition to their home that included a second floor expansion. However, with two sets of architectural drawings during the planning phase, the builder inadvertently used the wrong set. This error caused the height of the home upon completion to be 2½ feet taller than allowed by the bylaw.
Morgado, who accepted full responsibility for the error, asked the board to consider that they had the authority to approve the variance as a hardship, saying “it affects no one” in defense of leaving the structure as is.
Morgado was supported by a number of neighbors, as well as receiving the full support of the Harbor Beach Association.
But there were concerns.
“Yours may be an honest mistake, but what about the next person that comes along?” said Chairman Susan Akin. She thought it set a bad precedent, sentiments that were echoed by ZBA member Mary Ann Brogan. Brogan voiced that the builder should pay to remove the roof and lower it to the allowable height.
Morgado said he understood he could press the issue with the builder but felt tremendous empathy saying, “He’s just a small business…. He’s not wealthy.” To repair the error would cost north of $20,000 he estimated.
Director of Inspectional Services Andy Bobola offered the following advice to the board members: “This is only the second time in 31 years that we’ve been asked for this type of a variance. I don’t think you’d be setting a precedent.”
Bobola said the board does an excellent job of hearing each case and making decisions on a case-by-case basis by considering all the facts before them.
When it came time to discuss the case and make a decision, Brogan stood firm in her view that, by allowing the variance, the board would be opening itself up to having this case used as evidence in future cases.
Variances require more than a simple majority to pass. When the votes were cast, Morgado prevailed with a 4-1 affirmation that his honest mistake wouldn’t cost him or his contractor thousands of dollars.
The other three cases were all applications for special permits.
Kevin LeBlanc, 34 Brandt Beach Avenue, received a permit to build an addition to an existing home that will extend the home to within 11 feet of a paper road.
Denise Moody, 33 Park Street, received a permit to construct a two-car garage and expansion of the first floor, with setbacks that do not meet current requirements.
Jeffrey and Lauren Jordan, 4 North Street, received a special permit to add an attached porch to the existing home with a 10-foot setback.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals will be held on March 17 at 6:00 pm in the Mattapoisett Town Hall conference room if there are hearings.
By Marilou Newell