Friday, August 14, 2009
Zoning Board of Appeals approves projects on Fiske St. and Rockland Rd.
Building Commissioner John Luther joined Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) members Emmanuel Crespo, Kevin Smith and Chair Edward Rolfe at their August 3 meeting to assist in ruling on two new applications for variances and a special permit. In both cases, the board approved homeowners’ projects.
211 Fiske Street
First on the agenda was Michael Whaley, who hoped to obtain a special permit and variance for the construction of an addition. Attorney Melissa Robbins explained that the house is 110 years old and sits on a pre-existing non-conforming 0.9 acre lot which predates zoning. The house contains 2,100 square feet of living space and the proposed expansion of a family room and extended bedroom would add 900 square feet. This is within the 50% limit imposed by section 6.3 (Extension of non-conforming use) of the Carlisle Zoning Bylaws. “The addition to this home will increase property values in the area and certainly increase the value of this home,” said Robbins.
Robbins explained that the expansion is needed to better accommodate three small children; however the total number of bedrooms will remain at three. The variance problem stems from a setback of only 14 feet of one corner of the house to the lot line, which will be reduced to six feet with the proposed addition. A four-foot-high mounded septic system installed four years ago precludes expanding the house on the opposite side.
The abutting pork-chop lot contains a 40-foot entry with a driveway to a house located in back, some distance away, minimizing the effect of the expansion on the neighbor’s property. The closest home is 146 feet away and the house on the abutting pork chop lot is over 200 feet away. Whaley explained that the neighbors have no objection to the addition. “The main hardship is related to the shape of the lot,” said Robbins. “The house sits at an angle to the road and has only 125 feet of frontage.”
Members of the ZBA voted to close the hearing and begin deliberations immediately, since all interested parties were present. “The state of Massachusetts makes it extremely difficult for boards to grant variances,” began Rolfe. “Given the septic system, plus taking into account that the house is in a funny position and the design seems to make sense, I’m persuaded that the hardship criteria is met,” said member Kevin Smith. The board agreed that reducing the setback by eight feet is a relatively small variance and to make them flip the house over is a hardship. A motion to approve the variance and special permit passed by a vote of 3-0.
173 Rockland Road
Sharyl and Scott Stropkay would like to construct an addition to their house. Their existing home is non-conforming because it is within the 40-foot setback. This could limit the proposed expansion to no more than 50% even though the lot is two acres. “The lot is conforming, but the structure is non-conforming because of the setback,” observed Commissioner Luther. Some confusion followed as to whether this combination falls under the 50% restriction. Stropkay estimated that the basic addition is within the 50% limit, “but I would like to turn the attic into office space, which makes it 52%.”
Luther sharpened his pencil and totaled up 1,848 square feet of actual living space, plus the deck which puts them at 1,925 total. “They want to add 875, so it’s a non-issue,” he determined. The lot was subdivided sometime around 1947, leaving the house non-conforming to zoning setback regulations adopted later (one corner is 18 feet from the lot line). “We don’t have any grandfathering per se, so the only relief is through the variance mechanism,” said Rolfe. Luther added, “With the addition, they will be getting further away to 25 feet from the lot line and be less non-conforming.”
“We have two kids that have outgrown this little house,” said Scott Stropkay. “And we really want a garage – I’m tired of scraping ice – and would like to put a family room above it.” The board determined that the Stropkays have indeed chosen the best location to build the addition because of the surrounding wetlands. “You guys are significantly pinched by wetland buffer zones,” said Rolfe. “Did I hear you say there was ledge outcropping there?” he asked. Everyone laughed when Sharyl Stropkay replied, “There’s ledge everywhere – it’s Rockland Road! Half of our basement is rock.”
Members agreed that the addition will make the house less non-conforming because the setback will increase from 18 feet to 25 feet. The neighbors are supportive and the board saw no detriment to the public good. Members decided that there was no need for a special permit and moved to grant a variance for the proposed addition. It was approved by a vote of 3-0. ∆
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