City of Salem Zoning Board of Appeals
Minutes of Meeting
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
A meeting of the Salem Zoning Board of Appeals (“Salem ZBA”) was held on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 in the third floor conference room at 120 Washington Street, Salem, Massachusetts at 6:30 p.m.
Those present were: Robin Stein (chairperson), Rebecca Curran, Annie Harris, Richard Dionne, Steve Pinto (alternate), and Bonnie Belair (alternate). Also present were Building Commissioner Thomas St. Pierre and Amy Lash of the Planning Department.
Members absent: Beth Debski
*Annie Harris entered part way through 260 Jefferson and did not participate in the vote; Steve Pinto left following 260 Jefferson and did not participate in the rest of the petitions.
A motion was made by Steve Pinto to approve the August 22, 2007 meeting minutes, seconded by Richard Dionne, approved 5-0.
Attorney Joseph Correnti requesting a six (6) month extension for variances granted October 18, 2006 for the property located at 28 GOODHUE STREET.
Robin Stein said she would not be participating because she had a conflict and as long as the petitioner was comfortable having four members vote they could go forward. Bonnie Belair read the letter from Attorney Joseph Correnti requesting an extension. Joseph Correnti presented the request on behalf of North River Canal, LLC. He reported the project is going forward; 95% of engineering drawings are complete and the necessary funding and contracts are almost in place. He anticipates they will be applying for a building permit this fall. They didn’t want to take a chance of having the Variance lapse.
A motion was made by Bonnie Belair to approve the request for extension, seconded by Steve Pinto and approved 4-0 (Belair, Pinto, Curran, Dionne).
Petition of David L’heareux seeking a variance from number of stories allowed (2 1/2) to expand a third floor dormer and a special permit to modify an existing non-conforming building for the property located at 6 COUSINS STREET [R-2].
The petitioner, David L’heareux, presented the petition. He said he wants to connect the two dormers on the right side of the home, which would allow him space to put up wall cabinets. Bonnie Belair asked if the kitchen was on the third floor. The petitioner said yes and that it was a three family. Thomas St. Pierre said it was in the R-2 zone and grandfathered.
Paul Grocki of 8 Cousins Street asked if what the petitioner was proposing was just to connect the two existing dormers. The petitioner said yes and clarified the location.
Steve Pinto noted that the chimney is in poor condition. Thomas St. Pierre said the Board could certainly make it a condition that the chimney is made serviceable.
A motion was made by Steve Pinto to grant the variance and special permit subject to seven standard conditions, and one special condition relating to the chimney. The motion was seconded by Richard Dionne and approved 5-0 (Pinto, Dionne, Stein, Curran, Belair).
Petition of Paul Campagna requesting variances from rear setback and side setbacks to construct an addition for the property located at 180 NORTH STREET [R-2].
The petitioner, Paul Campagna, presented the petition for the property he owns 180 North Street. He says he would like to construct a 10 ft. addition of the back of the home, which would be 11 ft. from the abutting property. He said the existing garage, which would be torn down is closer than 11 ft. He said he recently purchased and moved into the property with his family. He said the reason for the addition is they need more space for his daughter who is physically handicap, they currently have difficulty moving the wheelchair around. Richard Dionne asked if the petitioner lives there? He said yes, they recently moved in and since then have added a handicap ramp. Thomas St. Pierre said that handicap ramps are exempt from zoning. Tom St. Pierre confirmed that the one car garage would be
traded for a one spot off street parking area. The petitioner said he plans to screen this from his neighbor. Tom St. Pierre said the grandfathered garage would be coming off and there would be less of an encroachment on the rear yard setback.
The petitioner submitted letters from Nick Michaud (5 Liberty Hill Ave) and Laurie Besani (182 North Street) in support of the petition; Robin Stein read these letters into the record. Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey also spoke in support of the petition, he said he has been working with Paul’s wife Jennifer to get a handicap parking space put it.
A motion was made by Richard Dionne to approve the variances subject to eight standard conditions, seconded by Bonnie Belair and approved 5-0. (Dionne, Belair, Stein, Curran, Pinto).
Petition of Sean Pray and Richard Smith requesting to modify a previous special permit decision to allow an exterior sign to remain for the property located at 3 HAWTHORNE BLVD [R-2].
Petitioner Richard Smith presented the petition saying he was coming to the Board to get out of violation to allow his exterior signs to remain. Thomas St. Pierre explained that the Board had previously granted a special permit for a home occupation, and that a condition of that decision was that an interior sign could remain in the window. Rebecca Curran asked if it was still a home occupation and if he was living there. He said no, he did not live there. Robin Stein said that this information created a new issue.
It was questioned whether the special permit decision may have ever been recorded with the registry. The petitioner was going to look into that and bring that information to Thomas St. Pierre. Robin Stein said that if the special permit wasn’t acted on in a certain time period it may have gone void. She is concerned that at this time it is uncertain what relief should be granted, and what was advertised would not have explained the amount of relief needed. Rebecca Curran said that even if it was recorded it would need to be re-advertised. Tom St. Pierre said that either the special permit is in play, or there is a major zoning violation. Tom says that the City doesn’t grant use variances. This item was continued until October 17th to figure out the
proper relief the petitioner should be seeking if any. The petitioner signed a time-extension form. Robin Stein explained that the special permit runs with the Property, not the petitioner.
Petition of Mirash Begi requesting a variance from number of stories allowed (2 1/2) to construct a rear dormer for the property located at 260 JEFFERSON AVE [B-1].
Petitioner, Mirash Begi, presented the petition. He explained what party of his drawing exists and what is proposed. Board members questioned where it was just a dormer. The deck, which is on the drawing but not mentioned on the application does not currently exist making it more than a dormer. Robin Stein said the plans illustrate the application, despite what the application requests.
Ward 3 Councilor Jean Pelletier said he was familiar with the property and said it’s the one that is three stories with the street level basement. He said that he has no problems with the petition. He suggested that better drawings with dimensions be submitted. Tom St. Pierre said when the applicant goes to get building permit better drawings will be required. Tom said he understands it well enough at this point.
The property is located in a business district. Annie Harris asked whether or not a condition should be added keeping the property to a single family. Robin Stein said she would rather not make such a condition.
Robin Stein asked whether the applicant would rather build a deck with the condition stairs leading down from the deck could not be constructed? Or just build the dormer? The applicant said he would rather build the deck with the condition.
A motion was made by Rebecca Curran to approve the request for variance subject to eight standard conditions and one special condition relating to stairs not being permitted to lead down from the deck, seconded by Robin Stein and approved 5-0 (Dionne, Pinto, Stein, Curran, Belair)
Petition of Stephen Lovely requesting variances from lot width and side setbacks to construct a two-family residence for properties located at 6-8 POPE STREET [R-3].
Petitioner, Stephen Lovely presented the petition. Sharon Marraffa owns the property, a letter of consent from the owner was submitted. Petitioner says it is a grandfathered lot; it is behind Salem Heights, and a rather odd shape. The Petitioner is asking for a variance from lot size for title insurance purposes. He mentioned that it is a wooded area, with lots of debris on it that will need to be removed. The petitioner is also requesting a variance front setback to provide more of a backyard. Rebecca Curran asked the petitioner -could get a building permit today? Tom said that by right he has a grandfathered lot. The petitioner said he was concerned about getting a building permit and having an expensive appeal, so he wanted to request the variance.
The Petitioner could live with the setback, but believes that it would look better from the street if a variance were granted.
Tom St. Pierre added that there are two driveways, and only one is allowed per property. Stephen Lovely asked if he would need to come back to ask for another curb cut? The relief, which was requested, and what is needed was discussed. Annie Harris said it is lot area, side setbacks, and front setbacks, which are being requested. Bonnie Belair mentioned that like the previous petition where the board provided relief for what was on the plan, the curb cuts are also on the plan before the Board.
Annie Harris questioned when the lot was grandfathered from. Tom St. Pierre said 1965 was the adoption of the zoning ordinance and that a title search should be required because that is the standard procedure for a grandfathered lot. Bonnie Belair noted the property was in an R-3 zone, and that it is unusual for somebody to come in looking to build less than the zoning allows. Annie Harris noted that a number of applications this week did not include any mention of hardship, Stephen. Stephen Lovely said he was not used to that being requested before the meeting. Annie Harris said agrees there are a lot of good arguments in this case.
A motion was made by Bonnie Belair to approve variances from lot area, side setbacks, front setbacks, and curb cuts subject eight of standard conditions and two special conditions- the front setback can be ten feet, and a title search might must done and provided to Tom St. Pierre. Approved 5-0 (Stein, Harris, Curran, Belair, Dionne).
Petition of Stephen Lovely requesting variances from lot width and front setbacks to construct three two-family residences, and an addition to an existing single-family residence (making a two-family) for the properties located at 1-3 PARALLEL STREET [R-2].
Petitioner Stephen Lovely presented the petition for the property he owns at 1-3 Parallel Street. He said that by right he could put two units on each lot. He has already been to the Conservation Commission for 1 Parallel Street; he would have to return to the Conservation Commission for the other lots.
Atty. Lovely said he has spoken to the neighbors who preferred single-family homes to the duplexes he first considered. He said they would be small cape-cod style homes and they would finish off the end of the street quite nicely. He said the home at the end of the street would be smaller than the structure that presently exists there. He said that the lots are much larger than any other lots on the street in terms of square footage. He said the lot width would be consistent with the width of the other lots on the street. He knows there is a concern with drainage and will deal with this issue when going to the Conservation Commission. He explained that he will work with the Conservation Commission to deal with the surface water that pools at the end of Parallel Street.
He said he has talked to the neighbors, he knows some of them would like to see nothing done there, but he does believe single families would better fit into the neighborhood than the duplexes. He said though he could live with the setbacks, though the neighbors suggested to bring the homes forward.
Annie Harris confirmed the two things the petitioner is asking for is relief from lot width and front setbacks. She said she drove down there and thinks that single family homes are much more appropriate, and with the wetland putting the property closer to the street would make more sense.
Stephen Lovely said he had spoken with the neighbors about doing pre-fab homes, which would keep the construction time to a minimum.
Rebecca Curran asked if the Board could restrict the lots to single family homes. Stephen Lovely said he had thought about such a restriction when neighbors had asked what would keep the next person from coming in and adding another unit. He said the neighbors were more comfortable with somebody coming back to the Board of Appeals to remove the restriction.
Chris Cannon of 9 Parallel Street has concerns that he has small children that play at the end of the dead end street, adding more residences will increase traffic. In response to the concerns, Robin Stein explained that the petitioner does not need to come to the Zoning Board for relief and by right he could put up two duplexes. Annie Harris asked Tom if the petitioner could by right build two duplexes. It was concluded that the petitioner could do three new units- one unit could be added to 1 Parallel Street, and an additional duplex could be constructed on the remaining land.
Tom said he would like to address the flooding issue- he said that the state building code has certain requirements for building in a floodplain. Tom said the flooding issue on Parallel Street is due to rainwater not having an outlet to go to and the overflow from the pond.
Matthew Veno, Ward 5 Councilor, spoke at the hearing. He thanked Stephen for reaching out to the neighbors and talking to them. He said he prefers the single family homes, and feel that the neighbors, who are mostly home owners themselves, would prefer home owners to renters. He is concerned about additional cars. He feels that the flooding concerns are serious, he is glad to hear from Tom that there are building standards. He said that currently the buildings have been vacant because of the flooding and he is skeptical that houses can be built that people will actually want to live in. He said he had trouble visualizing how homes could fit on the lots when he went out there and saw the close proximity of the wetlands. He feels that the proposed lot width
first the neighborhood.
Robin Stein encouraged those interested in the petition to attend the Conservation Commission meeting.
Matthew Veno said he also spoke to the Health Agent and thinks there may be an opportunity for the Health Department to weigh in areas, which chronically flood.
A motion was made by Rebecca Curran to grant variances subject to seven of standard conditions and seconded by Robin Stein an approved 5-0 (Stein, Curran, Pinto, Dionne, and Harris).
Petition of Carter and Kristen Vinson requesting variance from number of stories (2 1/2) to allow a third floor expansion for the property located at 32 BEACH AVE [R-1].
Petitioner Carter Vinson presented the petition for the property he owns at 32 Beach Ave. He said the expansion would allow for a master bedroom and a bathroom. He’s lived in Salem for over twenty years, his wife for 15 years.
The existing house is three bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms. He said they have three children and need another bedroom and bathroom in the house. He belies the house is currently 1,925 square feet and the addition would be about 500 square feet. He brought pictures of other houses nearby, and said that non of the houses in the Willows comply with the zoning ordinance. He said they are doing some construction on the front porch right now. Tom St. Pierre added that things are being done correctly and a significant investment is being made into the home. Carter Vinson brought an artists rendering of the home with the addition and shared it with the Board.
The question of building height came up. Tom said the height of a gabled building in Salem is measured at the average between the ridge and the socket so it would just be the number of stories.
Robert McCarthy of 153 Bayview Ave said he spoke to a number of the neighbors and that they didn’t have a problem with any of this. He said the he and his wife don’t have a problem with this. He understands why the family will need more space in the future, and it would be better to let me family remain in the neighborhood and allow them to expand their home.
The Board reviewed the dimensions of the proposed addition. Tom St. Pierre said that as long as the bay window did not expand outside the existing footprint, additional relief wouldn’t be needed.
A motion was made by Bonnie Belair to approve the variance subject to eight standard conditions seconded by Robin Stein and approved 5-0 (Belair, Stein, Harris, Dionne, Curran).
A motion was made by Richard Dionne to go into executive session seconded by Robin Stein and approved 5-0.
A motion was made by Rebecca Curran to authorize Beth Rennard, the City Solicitor to enter into an agreement for judgment, seconded by Robin Stein and approved 5-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 pm
Amy J. Lash