The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 22, 2004


Doing the right thing

In the October 1 issue of the Mosquito, I wrote an editorial, "A questionable special permit," in which I voiced concerns about the Zoning Board of Appeals (BOA) granting Albert Ira Gould a special permit to build a new two-story, five bedroom house with attached garage on a nonconforming lot (1.3 acres) with inadequate frontage. Gould had informed the BOA at their September 9 meeting that he would be tearing down the present small house on the lot and would build a larger house in the back of the lot. When asked the square footage of the old house and the new one he planned to build, he replied, "...I don't think I need to give you the square footage...."

Zoning bylaw 6.3 (Extension of Non-Conforming Use) prohibits an increase in the floor space of a new building on a non-conforming lot by more than 50% over the existing structure, but on September 9, the BOA granted Gould a special permit to tear down the existing small house and replace it with a new house and garage within a 65' x 65' footprint without imposing the 50% limit. I opined that this decision was illegal and could be a first step in breaking the town's two-acre zoning bylaw.

The response from the Planning Board and the Selectmen to the BOA decision was swift and clear. The Planning Board discussed their unhappiness with the decision at their September 27 meeting. On October 5, the Selectmen, the Planning Board and the BOA held a joint meeting in executive session. Two days later the BOA met again in executive session.

Finally, on October 13 the BOA issued a modified decision, adding two conditions. This decision states, "The purpose of this modification is to correct the Board of Appeals' inadvertent omission of these conditions so that the record reflects the Board's true intention." Condition No. 6 limits the total floor area of the proposed structure to no more than 150% of the total floor area of the existing structure. Condition No. 7 specifies the total floor area of the existing structure (1913 square feet, based upon the assessor's records) and limits the total floor area of the proposed structure to 2,870 square feet, to be verified by the building inspector before construction.

I thank the Planning Board and Selectmen for pursuing this matter, and I applaud the BOA for coming to a conclusion that now follows the Carlisle zoning bylaws. As BOA member Hal Sauer expressed it, "I am pleased with our clarifying the decision."

And then there was one

A few weeks ago, our middle daughter Kimi left for her freshman year at college. Kimi spent the summer working and preparing herself for the big step. Having a sister who had just gone through the same procedure last year really helped. Jaclyn told her what was absolutely necessary to have and what she shouldn't bother with. All of the relatives showered Kimi with attention. Jaclyn basked in the knowledge that she was now an experienced student; she knew her roommates, where she would be living and her way around campus. Yet it was exciting for her too, because now her sister would be going to a school in the same city as she was. They would be able to see each other when their schedules allowed.

The day we dropped Kimi off at her dorm, I was under strict orders not to get emotional. I was told it wasn't fair that I got to cry and go home to a familiar place, surrounded by people I knew and loved, and got to talk about what I was feeling. Kimi explained that she would be left in an unfamiliar place that was now her home, living with someone she didn't know, and going to classes and spending time with all new people.

She had a point. I actually was able to keep myself in control, and only a couple of tears escaped as I was heading down the four flights of stairs from her room, after we had said goodbye. Six days later, we dropped off my oldest. Totally different routine; she was thrilled, knew what her room looked like as well as the faces that would be there to greet her. I only cried a little that day. Not bad.

As we drove home with our youngest daughter Pami, I commented that it would be easy to pick up the girls from their respective schools for long weekends and holidays. Pami responded with, "I won't be able to go with you to drop them off after they come home." Being intuitive, I acknowledged her remark by saying, "Oh, I know, honey, you'll have lots of homework and things to do." But she said, "No, it's not that. I just can't keep saying goodbye."

My husband and I looked at each other. Until then, we had not thought about the impact of this family change on Pami. She always had her sisters. They were four and almost three when she was born, and she grew up having them there to play and talk with, to teach and protect her. They were together every day. When they would fight, my husband always told them that their friends might come and go, but they would always be sisters. They became extremely close, and as they got older, the strong bond held. The three of them went places together. Pami was always excited whenever either sister achieved something. She was always there for them. And now she couldn't be, and they wouldn't be for her either.

I know it's just the way things happen. Kids grow up, move on and the family dynamics change. Some of my friends tell me that their youngest kids thrive on the attention that is all theirs. There is nobody else's schedule to worry about. Mom or Dad can do anything for them. But here, it's just not the same as having your two big sisters.


2004 The Carlisle Mosquito