ZBA Approves Two Residential Projects

The Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals met on November 18 and granted a Special Permit and a Variance, both decisions being made without controversy.

            Despite reading a lengthy abutters list of Sarah Sherman Road residents, no outside voices responded to an invitation to comment on Case No. 1168. The case, which was rescheduled from October 28 after that meeting was canceled by the widespread power outage that swept through the region, was settled on November 18.

            Applicant Ryan Correia was granted a Special Permit to convert an existing living space above his 91 Sarah Sherman Road garage into a multi-family dwelling under Chapter 20.40, Section F.9.a of the Rochester Zoning By-Laws.

            As he explained, his in-laws moved away four years ago but, after loss of a job, were looking to come back but could not afford to buy property in the area.

            Citing mobility concerns, ZBA Chairman David Arancio said he could not put his in-laws in a second-floor apartment. He was told that, right now, Correia’s in-laws have the mobility to use the stairs and that, from financial and economic standpoints the plan makes the most sense for the family.

            Given there is a mudroom or breezeway between the garage and the house, the applicant said that it would be a much more costly project to expand the footprint of the house.

            The current second-floor space measures 674 square feet. The gross floor space on the ground floor measures 1,360 square feet and the proposed amount on the second floor 1,219 square feet for a total square footage of 2,579. The required, 40-foot setbacks are well exceeded with 125.6 feet to the rear property line, 100.1 feet to Side 1 and 154.3 feet to Side 2.

            It was pointed out that there is no permit on file because the second-floor space had only been permitted for storage space.

            “By right, they would need 105,000 square feet so we’re getting pretty close by right at 87,120 and frontage of 300 square feet,” said ZBA member Richard Cutler. “I’m not having much of a problem with this. The fact that they’re not increasing the footprint, I’m having even less of a problem.”

            After no one responded to an invitation for public comment, the board voted to close public comment and discuss the matter.

            ZBA member Thomas Flynn said that the project is not out of character with the neighborhood.

            Member Davis Sullivan pointed out that, according to the letter of the bylaw, the frontage required is 222 feet. The applicant explained that the town had incorrect information on file and a subsequently submitted site plan shows that the amount of frontage exceeds the requirement of the bylaw.

            The ZBA batted around the ramifications of the Special Permit, and Arancio suggested conditioning the project with no future expansion of the existing structure allowed without coming back to the ZBA for a Special Permit.

            As outlined in a motion by Flynn, conditions would make approval of the Special Permit subject to an engineering survey for existing unpermitted work in the space above the garage. In addition, one unit must be owner occupied, all parking must be off street, and any increase in the footprint of the existing structure or expansion of the existing structure would require reapplication to the board.

            Flynn, Sullivan, Cutler, Arancio and Kirby Gilmore voted 5-0 in favor.

            The ZBA also heard Case No. 1169, in which applicant Molly Fournier sought a variance to her rear setback under Chapter 20.40, Section D.1., so she could construct a deck in the back of her 1950-built house located at 447 Neck Road.

            Gilmore drew some chuckles when he speculated as to whether Fournier’s house had been moved to its present location. Arancio doubled down on the humor, noting that he almost bought a nearby property. Asked if the property is still available, Arancio said no but noted it’s still a sore subject.

            Fournier was asked the nature of her hardship requiring the need for a variance. The septic system sits on one side of the house and on the other side a well, leaving only the back side of the house as a place for a deck.

            The required rear setback is 40 feet, and the raised deck would come to within 22.8 feet of the property line. Grading up to the deck would require 2 to 3 feet of fill, an expensive endeavor, so Fournier’s hardship was also deemed to be financial.

            Asked for comment, the conservation agent stated that there are no wetlands on the site so no comments were made. Likewise, the Rochester Historical Commission took no position.

            Fournier was voted the variance, allowing construction of the deck.

            The ZBA has no cases for December 9 so the next meeting of the Rochester ZBA has been scheduled pending new cases for Thursday, December 23, at 7:00 pm.

Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals

By Mick Colageo

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