Yes To Mixed Use – No To Family Apartment

On November 17 at Old Hammondtown School, KK Kam Reality Trust presented its application before the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals for a mixed-used special permit that would allow owner Todd Rodrigues, 81 County Road, to construct two buildings for commercial and residential use under the same roof in the village business district.

The village business district was established some years ago in Mattapoisett to encourage a variety of property use types with an eye towards making Mattapoisett more pedestrian friendly with businesses and services within easy walking and bicycling distance of residences.

Paul Rodrigues represented his brother Todd, owner of Yard Boss, a local landscaping business. The buildings are planned for parcels adjacent to Yard Boss.

Rodrigues described that one structure would be 15,000 square-feet with commercial space on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. A second building would also contain commercial space on the first floor and apartments above. The Rodrigues’ plans called for a total of nine apartments in all primarily two-bedroom units. He said that the buildings would be connected to the public sewer via a previous agreement between the town and The Bay Club property.

A letter from the Mattapoisett Planning Board was read into the minutes. Planning Board members wrote in support of the project, noting that the plans would allow for a greater range of housing options in Mattapoisett while also providing an opportunity for residents to walk or bicycle to restaurants and services.

There was some concern expressed by Chairman Susan Akin and ZBA member Mary Anne Brogan as Rodrigues began to discuss the second of the two proposed buildings. He referenced that the second building would be much like the first but did not have engineered drawings for the board members to review.

Rodrigues said that the second building was not fully designed but asked for and received a recess in order to gather conceptual drawings from his office.

During the recess, the meeting moved on to the next hearing for Teodor Georgescu, 121 North Street. Georgescu was seeking a variance and a special permit that would allow an apartment above a detached garage to be permitted as a family apartment.

In July, Georgescu had been before the ZBA when it was discovered that the apartment in question was being rented out but was not permitted as such. Georgescu had argued at the time that when he purchased the property, the seller and the realtor had represented the apartment as legal. Director of Inspectional Services Andy Bobola had said at that time that the space had never been permitted for occupancy and that the owner had used it for an in-home business. Georgescu’s July application was denied.

In the latest application, Georgescu was asking that the apartment be recognized as a family or in-law apartment in spite of the fact that the garage was not attached to the main residence.

Akin said, “It still doesn’t fall under the rules,” and wondered aloud what had changed since the earlier filing. Bobola answered, “Nothing.” Bobola said that the apartment did not meet the bylaws and that it did not meet safety codes.

Board member Norman Lyonnais asked if the apartment was being taxed as such. Georgescu said he had been paying taxes on the space as an apartment. Lyonnais said, “I’m really having a difficult time with this.” He asked how the space could be taxed as an apartment but not be permitted as such.

“I have no idea why it’s been taxed as an apartment,” Bobola said. Georgescu urged the board members to understand that this time was different; this time it was for affordable housing for a family member.

“It’s an illegal apartment. For an in-law apartment, it has to be attached,” Akin insisted.

ZBA member Ken Pacheco said, “We’re back to the same thing; it doesn’t meet the requirements.”

The ZBA members unanimously voted to deny the request.

Rodrigues’ hearing was then reopened as conceptual drawings for the second building were displayed. By then, abutter Donald Fleming, 86 Church Street, was present and questioned if the project had sufficient handicap access to the second floor residences. Fleming also aired concerns that the property would not provide adequate outdoor space for any children who might reside there.

Bobola placed a call to a state building code authority who confirmed that the proposed project was not required to provide handicap access to the second story because it was less than 20 units.

After vetting that the Planning Board had addressed parking issues and that the state would address traffic flow onto Route 6, the hearing was closed. The project was unanimously approved and will become the first new project to fall under the village business district.

Three planned hearings regarding a cease and desist notice and an appeal at 102 Fairhaven Road Unit 29 were withdrawn without prejudice.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals will be held on December 15 at 6:00 pm in the Mattapoisett Town Hall conference room pending hearing applications.

By Marilou Newell


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