Town Officials Navigate ZBA Process

               Rochester’s Zoning Board of Appeals on April 11 approved projects proposed and therefore expertly defended by two Town Hall officials.

               The board endorsed the variance of the required, 40-foot, side setback for a one-story, one-bedroom addition at 17 Gerrish Road proposed by Finance Committee Chairman Kris Stoltenberg and a Special Permit for the conversion of a basement into a dwelling unit at 305 Braley Hill Road filed by ZBA member Donald Spirlet.

               Both decisions hinged on the applicants’ careful arguments in favor of their petitions rather than any insider influence. Stoltenberg said the goal is for him and his wife to remain in their Gerrish Road home. Because of their age, he said, it has been a challenge to access their upstairs bedroom. “A first-floor bedroom would allow us to ‘age in place’ as they say,” he said.

               Stoltenberg said his 24×24-foot bedroom addition with bathroom and closet would match the colonial style of the existing home. It would be financially detrimental for them to have to move and difficult to place this addition elsewhere on the property, and the new space will be of no detriment to the neighborhood or the public good.

               Board member Jeffrey Costa commended Stoltenberg for hitting all three points important to qualifying for such a variance. The board approved, allowing a 5.5-foot side setback variance for the project, a 34.4-foot setback rather than the statutory 40-foot requirement.

               Spirlet said he had built his Braley Hill Road home with the intent of someday finishing the basement. He would now like to finish 50% of that basement to build a second kitchen with bathroom and laundry room. He said his three “rowdy” grandsons need a place to play where their noise won’t disturb the upstairs.

               Referring to the requirements for approval of a Special Permit, he said the change is appropriate to the site, as it is a residential use. There is adequate space for the new use, and the plan offers no hazard to pedestrians or vehicle. “Abutters know what I am doing,” Spirlet said.

               Board members approved the Special Permit after agreeing the plan fits all the criteria for what it called a “multifamily conversion” of the basement space. Conditions included that one unit within “remain owner-occupied” and that the new space not be used for a short-term rental.

               In other business, the ZBA announced it will attend a joint meeting with the Planning Board on May 14 at the Rochester Senior Center for the 0 New Bedford Road Briggs petition.

               Thomas Flynn, who served as acting chairman, reported this would be his last meeting as a Zoning Board member. He has been a ZBA member since 2011.

               The Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals will meet next on Thursday, May 9, at 7:15 pm at Town Hall, 1 Constitution Way.

Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals

By Michael J. DeCicco

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