The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 9, 2006


ZBA mulls home expansion limit

On the heels of John Ballantine's article published in the Mosquito regarding the number of families in the 25- to 40-year age bracket dropping by over 70% since 1980 ("Carlisle changes, yet again," June 2, 2006), the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) was faced with a challenging permit request from the Hamor family: Matt and Deborah Hamor of 715 Bedford Road appeared before the board to request a special permit and a variance from the 50% expansion rule in order to add a second story to their home.

The Hamors have lived in Carlisle for seven years in their small schoolhouse-type home. They have two small children and want to stay in Carlisle to raise their family, but they feel they have run out of room and moving to a new home in Carlisle is not an option for them. Their plans involve keeping the original footprint of the house, but removing the roof and adding 1.5 floors of space, increasing their square footage from 1,088 to 2,481 square feet as per their house plans. The new design is also in schoolhouse style to maintain the home's historical integrity, which was, according to the Hamors, the second schoolhouse in Carlisle.

The increase to the size of their home, however, precipitated a lengthy discussion between the board members and the Hamors. Requesting a variance to the "50% rule" — the town bylaw requiring any addition to a house on a non-conforming lot be less than 50% of the original square footage — is controversial because the town of Carlisle voted in favor of this rule to keep "McMansions" out and the supply of small housing stock in. The Hamors argued that their addition is still a modest size relative to the sizes of new homes being built in Carlisle today and that they are maintaining its overall historical appearance. Furthermore, the Hamors have the support of their abutters as well as the Building Inspector and the Board of Health in terms of their current foundation being able to support the addition.

Ken Bedrosian, not an immediate abutter but also of Bedford Road, spoke to the board on behalf of the Hamors: "This family deserves every positive aspect you can find to grant them the permit so they can stay in town. We've all looked in town and the houses are very expensive. Putting on the addition would allow them to stay. From looking at the plans, the structure looks like it would be a beautiful new asset."

Discussions about the Hamor's current home revealed that the garage/detached office, which is heated, should be added to the total living space. Their overall current living space then increases from 1,088 to 1,664 square feet. Since their proposed attic is not considered living space as it is not heated, the total proposed square footage of the addition is actually 2,176 total square feet (including the original living space). Therefore, the total square footage increase is about 30%, meaning a variance is not required from the ZBA.

After careful consideration of the town bylaws and the Hamor plans, the board granted the special permit to the Hamors, stating that 1) the new space is not detrimental to neighbors and does not increase non-conformity; 2) the design conforms to the 50% rule bylaw; and 3) an effort was made on the part of the Hamors to preserve the original historical design of the home. The board also stipulated that the new attic could not be heated.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito