A hearing to determine whether or not a new doggy daycare business was eligible for a Special Permit became something altogether different when it was disclosed that an unpermitted outdoor storage space was located on property owned by Peter Renaghan, 123 Fairhaven Road, the location of a pet care store.
Nancy Carroll of Marion and Renaghan went before the Zoning Board of Appeals on September 19 with an application for a Special Permit to operate a doggy day care business, a transfer of business ownership and expansion of services. They explained that an agreement was pending between the two parties that would transfer ownership of the existing business and expand services currently available.
There began some discussion of hours of operation, noise and smell mitigation, and other operational matters; but those quickly were set aside when an abutter came forward with questions regarding a “junkyard” behind the pet care center.
Peter Graves, owner of 129 Fairhaven Road, questioned if the board intended to do anything about boats and motor vehicles stored behind the business. He claimed that oil and gas from the ‘junkyard’ was leaching onto the ground.
The ZBA was caught off guard, and asked Graves if he had contacted anyone about the problem. Graves said he had contacted the Board of Health and had spoken to Building Inspector Andy Bobola. The ZBA asked Bobola if the ‘junkyard’ was a legal business, and if the storage was permitted.
“None of it is allowed,” said Bobola.
Bobola explained that the full scope of how the property was being used had not come to light until construction at the abutting business’ property created a clear view. He said that many months before, when the storage of boats and vehicles had been brought to his attention, he had instructed the tenant, Dana Barrows, to clean it up before May 1, 2019. Bobola said that some cleaning up had taken place, but it had not been fully completed.
Board members asked Renaghan whether or not he was aware of the situation; he simply replied that he would discuss the matter with Barrows.
But the board members were flummoxed. Should they tie the Special Permit to a clean up of rented space behind the existing business? The ZBA was split. Again, they turned to Bobola.
Bobola said he hoped the board would allow the application to move forward unencumbered by Barrows’ activities. He also said that he would immediately require Barrows to clean up the site.
The ZBA granted the Special Permit with the following conditions: hours of operation would be Monday – Friday 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, and daycare staff must be trained to control barking dogs. The outside pens for the daycare dogs would be some 100 feet from the area being used for outdoor storage.
Bobola said that Renaghan had been a good business partner in the community for many years.
As Renaghan left the Town Hall conference room, board member Mary Anne Brogan yelled out, “Clean up your property!”
During a follow-up, Bobola said he had instructed Barrows to clean up the junkyard within 30 days from September 20. Regarding accusations that the boats and vehicles were leaching gas and oil onto the ground, he said, “Everyone has the right to contact the Conservation Commission or the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection with wetlands concerns.” He did not say that those pollution accusations were confirmed.
Also coming before the board was David Duff represented by Robert Field of Field Engineering for property located on Mattapoisett Neck Road. The application for a Special Permit was for the construction of a garage with living quarters on the second story described as “a guest house” with the option of building a single-family home on the site at some point in the future.
Duff explained that he wished to build only the guesthouse at this point in time for his occasional use, but that when he retired some five years in the future he wanted to build a single-family home on the property. Bobola confirmed that guesthouses were allowed by the zoning bylaws for lots over 5,000 square feet, but board members expressed concerns, primarily centered around committing the Zoning Board of Appeals to a conceptual plan five years into the future.
Chairman Sue Akin said, “To me, this is two houses on one property.” There ensued discussion regarding the possibility of placing a deed restriction on the guesthouse so that it could only be used by family members and not rented out as vacation property. This also led to questions as to why Duff didn’t just build the larger home first, and then come back to the ZBA for permission to build the guesthouse later.
Field said that Duff was simply trying to get a feeling as to the ZBA’s acceptance of the plan.
“We are trying to get a sense of what can happen five years from now,” said Field.
Brogan quickly responded, “We don’t know what the rules are going to be in five years.”
Board members were in agreement that they didn’t want to commit a future board to something so many years ahead.
The application was withdrawn without prejudice.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals will be scheduled for October 17 at 6:00 pm if hearings are planned.
Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals
By Marilou Newell