Friday, September 16, 2005
Animal hospital must seek new zoning permit
by Dave Ives
An unfortunate misunderstanding brought Dr. Peter Morey to the Board of Selectmen on September 13. He assumed that his 20-year special permit to operate the Carlisle Animal Hospital, which doesn't expire until 2015, was for the location of his business at 998 Bedford Road. When he leased his building to Healthy Pet Corporation, he expected that the special permit applied to the new tenants who were planning to carry on the business. When they signed the 15-year lease, they also assumed that they would have the proper authority to do business at that location. Not so, said the Zoning Board of Appeals and Town Counsel. The special permit applies to the veterinary practice, not the building, and the unusually long 20-year duration of the permit was issued to favor a town resident, not a remote corporation.
Morey's emotional pleas to the Selectmen caused them to agonize for almost an hour over the ethics of the situation. On the one hand, Dr. Morey is a well-known citizen of the town who has provided a veterinary service for over 30 years. On the other hand, bylaws are bylaws and Town Counsel has ruled that a special permit is issued to the individual, not the property. Stuck in the middle is Building Inspector Bob Koning, who must enforce the zoning bylaw and cite Morey as in violation of his special permit.
Selectman Tony Allison was visibly upset. "You have the same owner, the same house, the same taxes — why open it all up again!" he reasoned. Chair Doug Stevenson favored abiding by the rules, but allowing a generous amount of time for the new tenants to apply for a special permit through proper channels. Allison retorted that a malevolent abutter would then have the opportunity to oppose and force denial of the permit and Carlisle would no longer have an animal hospital. Selectman John Williams tended to agree with Allison, while Bill Tice and Tim Hult favored Stevenson's solution.
Stevenson finally forced a motion that authorized Building Inspector Koning to cite the hospital in violation of the special permit, but would give it 120 days to resolve the issues and apply for and receive a new special permit. The final vote was 3-2, and Morey requested that the Board send a letter to Healthy Pet explaining their decision so that no further misunderstandings occur.
© 2005 The