‘Wonky’ Lot Granted Garage Variance

            Marion Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Cynthia Callow met a milestone on June 22 in presiding over her first public hearing for a variance that was ultimately granted by the ZBA.

            Alan Minard and Nan Johnson applied for a variance seeking relief from the side setback requirements under Marion Zoning bylaws in their proposed addition of a garage at their house at 123 Allen’s Point Road. Because of the odd shape of their lot, Minard and Johnson have had difficulty locating a 22 or 24-foot garage. Either size would violate the setback requirements.

            “For many years we have been trying to build a garage,” said Minard in presenting their case. Citing the leaching field and setbacks that, he said, “really limit where a garage can be built,” Minard said he has thought that he would need to build the garage in the 3.1 acres of open space across the street. “Basically, all that land is wetland or flood zone…. I don’t think it’s responsible in this day and age to build anything in a flood area.”

            Theoretically, Minard and Johnson could build the garage closer to the main house by destroying the old horse stables that exist. Menard would dearly love to preserve those stables that he said are 100 years old.

            Calling the lot “wonky,” Callow acknowledged the applicants’ hardship.

            While his abutter, Rid Bullerjahn, 111 Allen’s Point Road, would support the project, including if it required the transfer of some property to help Minard and Johnson achieve compliance, Minard said such a project needing demolition would cost approximately $10,000.

            “I don’t think that particular expense does anything for the town or the neighborhood, so I would like to avoid that expense if we can,” said Minard. “I don’t think there’s any public impact here.”

            Requested for comment by the ZBA, the Planning Board deferred to the ZBA, and the Conservation Commission considers the matter non-jurisdictional.

            After ZBA member Will Tifft posed the question as to the potential of changing use in the future, Marion Building Commissioner Scott Shippey advised the board that the members can only vote on what is in front of them in the case and, as a hypothetical example, noted that should Minard and Johnson seek to build an apartment atop the garage, they would need to apply for a special permit.

            ZBA members Margie Baldwin and Ed Hoffer supported the project.

            The ZBA, with alternate member Tucker Burr in attendance, had five voting members present. Needing a supermajority of four out of five votes to approve the granting of the requested variance, a unanimous vote granted the variance.

            Callow commended the applicants on a well-founded and presented petition.

            Because a public hearing originally advertised for an in-person ZBA meeting on Thursday, August 12, at 7:00 pm will now be held via Zoom, that public hearing will be readvertised.

            The next meeting of the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals will be on August 12 at 6:30 pm.

Marion Zoning Board of Appeals

By Mick Colageo

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