ZBA Denies Special Permit and Variance

            After a short delay to the start of the January 16 meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals, as hurried outgoing calls were made to alternate members in an effort to make a quorum, the first meeting of the evening was eventually and quickly dispatched.

            Richard and Carol Allen, 7 Highland Avenue, represented by John Panzarella of East Coast Homes, saw their request for a Special Permit to build a new residence on a previously approved undersized lot approved.

            The previous owner had secured a permit to build; however, the Allens failed to act in a timely manner causing that permit to expire. With no objections or questions from those in attendance or the board members, the request was approved.

            Things did not go quite so quickly when an application for a Special Permit and a Variance filed by 13 Shipyard Lane, LLC, and Atkinson, LLC for properties located at 13 Shipyard Lane and 18 Atkinson Way was heard. Represented by engineer Doug Schneider of Schneider, Davignon and Leone, the applicant sought the board’s approval to divide properties not contiguous to one another.

            As was described by Schneider, his client, Sam Waterston, owns both properties; parcels that were once a much larger holding owned by his ancestors. The lot located at 13 Shipyard Lane currently includes a pathway or easement to a beach area, a small undersized lot, and exclusive rights and ownership of a stone pier. And while the plans, Schneider said, would not change deeded easements for beach access, it would convey to the parcel located at 18 Atkinson Way those exclusive rights and ownership to the pier.

            ZBA Chairman Susan Akin and ZBA member Mary Anne Brogan appeared flummoxed and questioned why the applicant wished to have the pier conveyed to the Atkinson Way property when, as things stood now, he owns everything.

            Schneider said that although there are not currently any plans to sell any properties, the applicant wanted “flexibility” for any future decisions. He also pointed out that all along Mattapoisett’s extensive coastline there exist piers absent any “primary structure”, making what Waterston requests not unusual based on precedent.

            Schneider also said that the applicant had conferred with a real estate agent who seemed to indicate that the Atkinson Way property would have more value if the pier off Shipyard Lane could be attached to it.

            “Why does he have to own it, he has an easement,” said Brogan, but Schneider pointed out that the easement to the beach did not include rights to use the pier.

            “Why does he have to do this?” asked Akin.

            “He’s looking to protect the pier and keep it with the ancestral home,” responded Schneider.

            Schneider further clarified that Waterston having to own two properties in order to keep the ancestral pier constituted the hardship. 

            “He should just keep the house (on Shipyard Lane),” said Brogan. “Granny shouldn’t have sold it.”

            In the end, the majority ruled that the filing could not meet hardship standards and the stated hardship had been “self-created.” Akin, Brogan and member Norman Lyonnais voted ‘no’ with members Tony Tranfaglia and Colby Rottler voting to approve.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled for February 20 at 6:00 pm at the Mattapoisett Town Hall if there are hearings scheduled.

Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals

By Marilou Newell

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