The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 25, 2006


ZBA allows furniture store and ramp, denies accessory apartment

Ian Sampson informed the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at their August 3 meeting that he would like to operate a furniture shop in the rear of the barn at 43 Bedford Road. It would be the first business use of the structure since May of 2003, when the Board of Selectmen gave Francene Amari-Faulkner permission, under Carlisle's distinctive structure preservation bylaw, to convert her 200-year-old barn into office space. Sampson, a Fiske Street resident, requested a special permit under zoning bylaw sections 3.2.3 and (Uses permissible in historic district).

Sampson does not build furniture, but rather sells it to a select number of clients. He plans to open daily, including Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and plans to use approximately 500 square feet of space for a salesroom. As part of an agreement with Amari-Faulkner, Sampson will do various repairs on the barn, including fixing the leaky roof. He plans to put in wall panels and possibly cover the concrete floor to finish off the salesroom. There is parking presently available for up to 12 cars, although the bylaws require only three spaces for this size of operation. Sampson seemed unfazed that the building must be heated by a woodstove and there is no bathroom.

Jonathan and Jane White of 60 Bedford Road were concerned about several aspects of the retail operation, but were assured of minimal traffic, no change to the barn exterior except for a small sign, and no beeping 18-wheelers delivering furniture. Lights and signs will be scrutinized by the Historical Commission and any safety violations will be flagged by the building inspector and fire chief. ZBA Chair Ed Rolfe was pleased with the roof repair, which is beneficial to preserving the historic building. Other board members agreed and voted 3-0 to grant Sampson a special permit to operate a retail furniture store for one year.

Handicapped ramp allowed for North Road business

Linda Butterworth-Till of North Road made her plans perfectly clear to members of the ZBA. "We intend to live in Carlisle for the rest of our lives," she firmly stated, as Stephen Till nodded his agreement from the front row of the Clark Room. Butterworth-Till appeared before the board on August 3 to request a variance from zoning bylaws 4.2.1 (building setback) and 5.3 (parking) for the construction of a handicap ramp, deck, parking space and aisle for their home at 779 North Road.

The existing driveway allows parking for two cars and construction of the new driveway and ramp on the opposite side of the house would add a third parking space. Butterworth-Till, while personally not requiring the handicap ramp, operates a home-based law practice and occasionally sees clients who find it difficult to navigate the steep incline in the existing driveway. "This second driveway already exists and is presently used for firewood and propane deliveries," said Butterworth-Till. "The sight-lines on North Road will actually be better from the handicap driveway than from the existing one, which is on a curve."

The house, built in 1789, is only 14.9 feet from North Road and the proposed addition of a deck and ramp will maintain the same distance. ZBA chair Ed Rolfe acknowledged that the addition produced no further encroachment that would increase the present violation. Member Cindy Nock added that the handicap driveway will be safer for client visitation and also did not feel that a time limit need be placed on its use. "It is for the public good," she concluded. The board agreed and voted 3-0 to grant the variance to Butterworth-Till.

Accessory apartment denied

Things did not go as smoothly for Melbe Schellenberg, who is requesting a variance from zoning bylaws and for the construction of an accessory apartment at 140 Pheasant Hill Lane. Architect Peter Blaisdell presented the request to the ZBA members. Schellenberg's apartment, which has cost $160,000 so far, stands unfinished and uninhabitable, with only a shell of roof, walls and windows. Far from having the external appearance of a single family residence as the accessory apartment bylaw states, the uncompleted structure sits separate from the main house and is connected only by a breezeway. Another violation is that the new structure has 1,789 square feet of floor area. Bylaw states that the floor area of an accessory apartment shall not exceed 1,200 square feet and this structure exceeds the limit by 49%.

Blaisdell's only defense to the numerous violations, which were not of his doing, was that it is too late to remedy the situation because the structure has been built. Both David Freedman of the Planning Board and Doug Stevenson of the Board of Selectmen spoke from the audience, giving no credibility to this argument and strongly reinforcing compliance with the bylaws. "Relaxing the rules would undermine the intent of affordable accessory apartments," said Freedman. ZBA member Steve Hinton suggested a hypothetical solution that would assign portions of the apartment to the main house in order to reduce the apartment's floor area. This led to another more bizarre solution that removed the kitchen from the apartment and called the two separate buildings one big house.

"We can't design it for you," said Hinton. "These thoughts are meant only for your education." If Blaisdell can somehow get the apartment down to 1,200 square feet, then Schellenberg does not even have to go before the ZBA. Alternatively,they could remove the kitchen and make it a single house. Neither of these solutions seemed palatable to Schellenberg, and the board had no choice but to deny the variance without prejudice by a vote of 3-0.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito