Friday, October 15, 1999
Zoning requires second look at church plans for center
History does repeat itself. At the Carlisle Board of Appeals, the group's ability to base their judgements on past cases validates and speeds decision-making. Especially since chair Midge Eliassen, who has served on the board for 12 years with five years as chair, has a very good memory.
The board of appeals quickly reached decisions on three agenda items at its last meeting on October 7. These involved a special permit to operate a riding business, a variance for a small addition, and a lot-line variance for a pool. The board has handled similar issues many times before, and the board granted the first two items but denied the third.
The fourth item, involving the Congregational Church in the center of town, proved an exception to the usual rule. The church wants to add a large structure, according to the site's original architectural plans, and it requires a lot-line variance and some parking reconfiguration. After much discussion at the meeting, the board elected to continue this item. Even this continuance had a point of reference to the board's experience, however. "Anything involving parking is always an issue," said Terry Herndon, board clerk.
Riding stable permit extended
In the case of the special permit, Kathryn Dennison requested to continue operating a riding academy and stable at 78 Stearns Street. Dennison gives private lessons to a total of four adults and ten children once a week. Traffic is increased by only one car per lesson. No neighbors were present to object. Dennison also asked for an increase in the length of the three-year permit.
"I tend to read repeat applications without abutters present at the meeting as appropriate," said Eliassen. Member Scott Batchelder wondered what would happen if problems came up before the next renewal of a permit. Eliassen explained that residents could raise issues to the town building inspector and that the board would reopen the case. With that in mind, the board elected to extend Dennison's three-year special permit to four years.
South Street variance okayed
With the variance for an addition, Frank and Andrea Proctor wanted to extend the roof and convert the porch into living space at 532 South Street, or as it is more commonly known, the old Mosquito offices. The additional 110 feet only accounts for slightly more than a 16-percent increase in square footage, but because the house is non-conforming according to current zoning regulations, the Proctors needed a variance. The board found no significant change in the overall footprint of the house due to the modification of the porch space and approved the variance.
Kimball Road pool denied
Hal and Mark Charnley wanted relief from the side lot-line setback to construct an inground pool at 198 Kimball Road. The board listened to testimony from the applicants about how the pool location worked best, given the lot's constraints from slope of the land, the well and septic locations. Abutters spoke about the possible loss of shade trees.
The board concluded that the Charnleys did not show significant hardship and that there were alternate locations on the lot for a pool. Alternatives might involve removal of retaining walls and fill, or building a smaller pool, but they would not involve a variance. The board referred to previous cases and noted it has granted only one variance for a pool in the last year. That case involved an existing pool which became non-conforming due to a change in lot lines.
Church parking stalls application
The Carlisle Congregational Church requested a variance for a side lot-line setback for an addition. Carlisle zoning rules require 20 feet; the church would like to shave that to 15 feet. The lot-line abutter, the Carlisle School, agreed to support such a setback as part of a small land swap deal several years ago.
Greg and Carol Sullivan, of 140 School Street, live across from the church property. They raised concern about the magnitude of the proposed addition. The building, which will house church meetings, will have a 50-foot high roof ridge with a 30-foot spire on top. Furthermore, the abutters consider street traffic and parking a major problem when events are going on at the church.
The parking issue ultimately pushed the case into a continuance. The proposed design reconfigures some existing parking spaces that do not meet current Carlisle regulations. Although the spaces enjoy a "grandfather" status, suggesting they can exist, they cannot be reconfigured without the applicant giving public notice. Herndon also requested that the church show more information on the location of abutting structures, such as the pre-school and associated playground.
Eliassen concluded that with additional information the board can better address the town, abutters, and church issues.
Changing of the guard
Twelve years is a long time, and with five years as chair, Eliassen noted that it is time to make way for others to serve the town. She presented the board with her resignation as chair.
Herndon, who has acted as chair in Eliassen's absence, agreed to take on the role more permanently. However, he had one condition: Eliassen take on the job of clerk during the transition. She agreedfor the time being.
The board unanimously accepted the new roles for Herndon and Eliassen. In fact, this board usually reaches unanimous decisions. That's what happens when there's a historical record so readily available.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito