Planning Board Cautions ZBA on 324 Front Street

As anticipated, Peter Douglas’ appeal of the building commissioner’s denial for zoning enforcement of Christian Loranger’s 324 Front Street condominium construction was continued until May 24.

Zoning Board of Appeals member Bob Alves, acting as chairman in Marc LeBlanc’s absence, read a statement announcing the public hearing would be continued without any testimony from Douglas or the public.

“This case is going to be continued without testimony,” Alves read. “We do not have enough voting members of the Zoning Board, town counsel could not be present, and the building commissioner, Scott Shippey, could not be present.”

There were about 15 people present for the hearing apart from Douglas, including Planning Board Chairman Eileen Marum and Planning Board member Steve Kokkins.

According to Douglas, some data submitted on Loranger’s building permit application was incorrect, including the total volume of living space inside the demolished structure, leading the way for a new structure that is greater in livable space volume than what should have been allowed. Loranger, asserts Douglas, has converted attic and basement space into habitable “below-grade” volume space that was not part of the original structure’s habitable space.

Douglas, during his two presentations to Planning Board members on April 2 and 17, asked the board members to give this recommendation to the ZBA: “The Planning Board believes that the only possible rational interpretation of the term ‘volume’ in Zoning Bylaw 6.1G is above-grade volume [(not basement)], since any other interpretation of the term … would clearly contravene the obvious purpose of that Bylaw and make a completely perverse nonsense of that Bylaw,” as Douglas wrote in a typed submission to the Planning Board.

The Planning Board responded to the ZBA’s request for comment in a letter Alves deemed too lengthy to read aloud in its entirety, but a copy of that letter displayed a strong recommendation from the Planning Board for the ZBA to halt any further construction at 324 Front Street until the alleged permitting discrepancies are resolved.

“… [It] seems clear to us that the ZBA will want to devote extremely careful attention to the accuracy, validity and professional reliability of the data submitted to the Building Department…” the letter further states. “If discrepancies are revealed in the volume calculations used as the basis for the new building, the ZBA should take immediate action and require that the developer modify the project so as to comply with the zoning bylaws.”

A letter read aloud from the Board of Health expressed no objection to the project given that it is served by municipal sewer and water, but a letter from the Conservation Commission stated that Loranger’s project still required a filing due to a portion of the work occurring inside a flood zone, which to date has not been filed.

Resident Diana Worley, 329 Front Street, stood to speak from a written statement, but was cut off and offered a chance to speak at the next meeting on May 24. Worley contended that she was the only abutter who had received notification of the public hearing, and the board told her it would explore why that would happen if it did indeed happen that all abutters were not duly notified.

“Why continue?” asked Worley. “It just seems like along way away and meanwhile the building construction continues.”

“Ridiculous…” a woman in the back of the room commented.

The next meeting of the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals is May 24 at 7:30 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Zoning Board of Appeals

By Jean Perry


Leave A Comment...