Zoning Board of Appeals questions Bedford Road barn project

by Karina Coombs

Angus Beasley, president of Adams and Beasley, Inc. appeared before the  Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on December 9 to request a variance for the property he co-owns with business partner Eric Adams at 21-23 Bedford Road. The pair is planning to rebuild the barn that had previously stood on the property before it was removed out of safety concerns. Beasley and Adams purchased the distressed property in 2012.

Beasley explained that they would like to rebuild the barn in its former location, offering 1,500 square feet of housing on each of its two floors. He thought the work would require a variance because the new structure would be built over an existing setback. Board member Steve Hinton explained that the group should not need a variance because they are just rebuilding something that was once on the property. Because the former barn pre-dated zoning regulations, the original variance still exists and would be grandfathered in.

Beasley, joined by the firm’s Architectural Designer Zac Culbreth, explained the project would also add more square footage of living space with both the barn and an addition to the existing house. Building Commissioner John Luther noted that the proposed addition already fell within the existing setback and they should not need a variance for the work. The board discussed issuing a variance of up to 12 feet 7 inches from the setback on the eastern side, which would allow the builders to build whatever they wanted inside the area.

Chair Lisa Davis Lewis explained that Beasley should have applied for a special permit instead of a variance because of a proposed increase in non-conforming use on the property. Beasley acknowledged the oversight and noted he had submitted his special permit application earlier in the day. Lewis explained that the ZBA would have to legally post for another public hearing in January.  

Members of the ZBA continued to hear discussion for the special permit, with Beasley explaining that the project would be approximately 5,000 square feet including the barn. Because the barn was not historically considered living space, members of the ZBA questioned whether or not Beasley and Adams could include it to increase the non-conforming space within the lot.

“If there is going to be living space you can’t include the barn as part of that,” explained Lewis, adding that there would need to be a record of the barn having been previously used as living space, even anecdotally. Beasley noted they purchased the property under the impression the barn was already considered as such and mentioned a number of visitors to the property sharing stories about it. “Since the last 25 years that I’ve been living here I don’t think anyone has been living in that barn,” clarified Hinton. “We need documentation of original living space.”

Beasley explained they had been using plans from prior owner Laura Chelton, which were approved by the ZBA in 2006 and granted a special permit to increase living space from 5,429 square feet to 7,909. Hinton explained that the town of Carlisle was increasingly sensitive to construction projects that enlarged non-conforming properties more than 50%. “This is the raw nerve in this town,” he said. “The third rail.” The barn will be the largest structure on the property according to Beasley. “If [it] can’t be considered living [space] I can’t finance it,” he said. 

Beasley and Culbreth also explained that they have plans to create an accessory apartment within one of the units of the existing structure, for a total of three units. “That’s the other third rail,” said Hinton.  Lewis told Beasley he would need to apply for an accessory apartment through the Planning Board. “That’s our next step,” said Culbreth.

The board asked Beasley and Culbreth to add dimensions to their plans for the special permit public hearing and to collect information about the barn’s status as living space. Lewis noted that the ZBA wants to help the project move forward. “Nobody wants to see this project not succeed.” The hearing was continued until January 13. ∆