Friday, May 30, 2003
Selectmen review plans for Bedford Road barn conversion
The Selectmen met on May 20 with Francene Amari-Faulkner, who is seeking permission under Carlisle's distinctive structure preservation bylaw to convert her 200-year-old barn at 43-45 Bedford Road into office space. The Selectmen decided at their last meeting to continue the public hearing on the structure until the Historical Commission granted their final go-ahead. Located at the intersection of Bedford Road and East Street, "The barn has now received approval from the Carlisle Historical Commission for everything except the entrance ramp," explained Amari-Faulkner. This clears the way for her to obtain a building permit and allows the Selectmen to finally close the hearing.
But first, Chair Doug Stevenson asked if there was anyone in the audience who might wish to speak. "Yes," Todd Arnow of 11 East Street responded from the back of the Clark Room and proceeded to state his concerns. After first emphasizing that Amari-Faulkner is a neighbor and friend, he began by questioning the usefulness of such an office. "Is there a need for more office space?" he asked. "I'm concerned about density and parking. Will the town center become overbuilt? And will the Zimmermans be next in converting their barn?" Becoming more emotional as he continued, Arnow envisioned ramps, lights, and a parking lot supporting five offices occupied by up to 10 people next to his house. "It's not a barn anymore, it's an office," he argued. "Why not tear it down and build an office!"
Amari-Faulkner tried to calm his fears by explaining that her special permit expires in two years and she has a strong incentive for the converted barn to be as unobtrusive as possible to the neighborhood. "This project is borderline feasible and will be costly for me to pull off," she admitted. Not wanting any controversy that might threaten her investment after the offices are occupied, she pleaded for Arnow to "call me first if you have any complaints."
Arnow was not to be denied. "In our pursuit of saving barns, what price do we pay?" he challenged the Selectmen. But members of the board generally support barn conversion and Stevenson reiterated that the special permit expires in two years, "so if it destroys the town center, it [the office permit renewal] can be refused." The Selectmen agreed and voted 4·0 to close the public hearing. This gives them 60 days to decide on conditions and final approval.
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