The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 15, 2000


Fourth center real estate office approved by board of appeals

Douglas and Helen Edwards of RE/MAX Walden Country Real Estate wish to open an office at 50 School Street, the former site of the Congregational Church and presently the residence of Howard and Jan Hensleigh. They appeared before the Carlisle Board of Appeals on September 7 to request a special permit, thereby raising the total number of real estate businesses in the town center to four.

"Meet me in Carlisle"

The company would like to open an ancillary office in Carlisle. "Since the available office measures only 12 feet by 20 feet, it would rarely see more than one or two people," Ms. Edwards said. "It will be used for appointments — come in, go out," as chair Terry Herndon put it, a "Meet me in Carlisle" office.

The office would be open from nine to six, Mr. Edwards said in response to a question from member Midge Eliassen. But further questioning by member Scott Batchelder revealed that this would be seven days a week, and mostly on the all-important weekend. Sunday is especially busy.

Abutter Jenifer Bush of Church Street was not happy to hear about the weekends and especially the added activity on Sunday, but Ms. Edwards did not see this as a problem. "Our agents are very busy," she replied. "They make money by not being in the office." Besides, "it's Hensleigh's home and law office," Mr. Edwards added, emphasizing the need to be unobtrusive..

Asked to state their concerns, abutters Jack O'Connor of Church Street and Laurel Stephenson of School Street were understandably cautious about welcoming a real estate office next door. "My preference is for no office, especially on weekends when I'm working in the yard," admitted O'Connor, and Stephenson agreed. Yet neither seemed to be opposed to their future neighbor. O'Connor did have some concern that a buffer of trees planted many years ago to block off the parking lot have now grown to 20 feet high and have lost their shielding effect.

Parking already approved

Associate member Hal Sauer focused on the availability of parking, which was recently a major obstacle to approval of the Carlson real estate office at 7 School Street. However, in this case, a parking lot has existed on the property since the building was used as a post office and later by Toth Design.

Called at home by cell phone, Hensleigh estimated that 20 cars might squeeze into the parking lot, although the bylaw requires less than ten . He added there will be about 1,500 square feet of combined office space with the real estate office and his existing law office. A RE/MAX sign will hang below Hensleigh's law office sign and be approximately the same size with no posts and no illumination.

The board members had heard enough to begin deliberation on the granting of a special permit. Eliassen cited the precedent set by Jan Hensleigh's antique shop and Toth Design. Sauer concurred that the proposed use clearly meets bylaw 3.2.3, Uses Permissible on Special Permit in Historic Districts.

Sauer agreed with the need for adequate screening along the property line, and reminded everyone with concerns about Sunday morning activity that the building used to be a Congregational Church. Eliassen reaffirmed that business hours from nine to six, seven days a week, would seem to be reasonable. No one disagreed that there was adequate on-site parking available. Limiting the special permit to one year would allow abutters to assess the situation and request changes if necessary.

Stating that they do not believe the use is detrimental to the town or neighborhood, the board voted 4-0 to grant a special permit for a real estate office at 50 School Street with the following conditions: The permit is valid for one year; office hours are nine to six, seven days per week; the parking lot must be adequately screened; and the RE/MAX sign will be the same size as the present law office sign.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito