City of Salem Zoning Board of Appeals
Minutes of Meeting
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
A meeting of the Salem Zoning Board of Appeals (“Salem ZBA”) was held on Wednesday, December 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), Richard Dionne, Beth Debski, and Steve Pinto (alternate). Also present were Building Commissioner Thomas St. Pierre and Amy Lash of the Planning Department.
Members absent: Rebecca Curran, Annie Harris, and Bonnie Belair (Alternate)
A motion was made by Steve Pinto to approve the minutes of November 14, 2007, seconded by Beth Debski, approved (4-0).
Robin Stein acknowledged that it would be Steven Pinto’s last meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals and thanked him for his service; Steve will be leaving the Board to serve on the City Council.
Continued: 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].
Robin Stein said the applicants had submitted a written request to withdraw their position because it was deemed unnecessary by the Building Inspector. Tom St. Pierre confirmed that he had determined the property had a grandfathered status.
Richard Dionne made a motion to allow the withdrawal of 3 Hawthorne Blvd, seconded by Beth Debski, approved (4-0).
Petition of Robert Cucurull requesting to appeal the Building Inspector’s decision to deny a sign permit for All Star Collision located at 171 BOSTON STREET in the Entrance Corridor Overlay District.
Robert Cucurull presented the petition for the property he owns at 117 Boston Street (AllStar Collision). He presented the Board with an image of the sign he would like to erect at his business. The dimensions on the image the petitioner brought in differed from the dimensions of the sign denied by the sign review committee. Amy Lash said that the Board should consider the sign that was denied and not a different sign. The applicant agreed that he would like the Board to consider the 4’ x 8’ sign that had previously been denied.
The applicant said his abutter Mr. Zion was present and that he was not positive that his proposed location was not on Mr. Zion’s property. If it was, he would move the sign over. He wants the poles to be 25 ft high.
Mr. Cucurull said that there is a large tree blocking the view of his building for those coming from Peabody. He said he believe the regulations allow for a 25 foot sign.
Beth Debski said that in the Entrance Corridor signs could be limited to 1/2 the height allowed in the underlying district.
Robin Stein asked if what the applicant was requesting was a height variance. Amy said that in addition to the height, the applicant is requesting that the Board allow internal illumination, which is not recommended in the City’s design guidelines.
Robin asked whether the sign needed to be lit. The applicant replied yes, internal illumination is preferred and it would be less maintenance. David Battcock of SignCo graphic introduced himself and added that other signs in the area look like the one proposed.
Beth Debski asked what signs were there now. The applicant said there are two temporary signs, which are visible in the photograph. These signs would come off once a permanent sign was in place.
Beth asked whether the sign before the Board came from participation in one of the Planning Department’s programs. The applicant said no.
Amy said that AllStar Collision participated in the City’s Storefront Improvement program back in 2003 and a number of possible sign designs were developed but were never used.
Robert Cucurrul said that the signs that were designed as part of the program were the kind that would be flat across the building and not a pole sign visible from the street.
Beth Debski said that she believed the purpose of the Entrance Corridor Overlay District was improving the look of the signs that had been appearing along Boston Street and improving the look of the entrances into the City.
David Battcock showed the Board examples of signs designed with the City’s program and said that the type of sign would not allow for a passerby to notice the sign or building. Robert Cucurrul said that the big issue was the tree was on the Peabody line.
Steve Pinto asked how many feet the business was from Boston Street. Robert Cucurrul said it was 50 or 60 feet at most.
Tom St. Pierre said that technically the Board is not being asked to grant a variance. Tom said his only function in denying the sign was receiving a negative recommendation from the Sign Review Committee.
Robert Cucurull said that he felt if he could get away with a sign less than 25 ft in height he wouldn’t have asked for 25 ft.
Steven Pinto said that basically the question in front of the Board was whether or not the sign was presentable as a sign along the entryway into the City.
Robin Stein opened the public portion of the hearing.
Robert Brophy (165 Boston St) asked how far the sign would be from the building. Robert Cucurull said it would be about 3 ft.
David Zion (167 Boston Street) asked that the applicant make sure the location he is proposing the sign is land which he actually owns. He said that the applicant once added landscaping on his land.
Rick Dionne questioned whether the Board was there to comment on the design itself. Robin said no, he already submitted a design and the review committee made a recommendation against it.
Robin Stein said she would like to applicant to know that he would need all four votes tonight, he would also have the option to continue the item to another meeting when there would be a full board. She said that the question of where the sign would be located could be figured out by this time as well.
David Battcock said he could build the sign with one pole if need be. There was a question over which design they were looking at. Amy said it would have to be the exact sign which was denied.
The public hearing portion of the meeting was closed. Robin said that she though there were three issues: height, illumination, and location.
Amy suggested that if the Board was to approve the sign they could always condition that a certified plot plan is submitted showing that the location would be on Mr. Cucurull’s land before the City’s issued a permit to erect the sign.
Rick asked whether the sign would be overhanging the street. David Battcock said that the sign could go on the edge of the pole as well if it was preferred.
Beth Debski said that she felt the sign was too tall and that the Planning Department had spent a great deal of time making good recommendations that were not used. She noted that the Planning Department was willing to approve a 20 ft. externally illuminated sign.
Robin asked if it would be possible to bring the signs out further and drop the height. Robert Cucurull responded that he felt that the height was necessary because of the tree.
Beth asked whether they looked at something coming off the building rather than a free standing sign. David Battcock said that it could be built that way but it wouldn’t solve the tree issue.
Robin said that she didn’t really have a problem with the height considering the building.
Beth Debski said that when driving by you don’t need to have a 25 ft high sign to see it. Beth said she felt the purpose of the Entrance Corridor Overlay was to beautify the entrance corridor and that this sign doesn’t fit with the intent.
David Battcock added that Robert Cucurull was here to stay for the life of his business and that people didn’t even know he was there.
Steve Pinto said he would like to find a happy medium here.
David Battcock said that the Planning Department was willing to approve a 25 ft externally illuminated sign at one time. Amy said from her conversations with Kirsten Kinzer and Lynn Duncan who make up the sign review committee she does not believe this was the case, but she will check with them. She said she knew that they were willing to approve an externally illuminated sign with a height of 20 ft.
David Battcock suggested that they continue to the next meeting. He said he would return to the Board with photographs showing the tree.
Robin Stein said that she felt it would be a good idea to continue the item and have it heard by a full board.
Beth Dabski made a motion to continue the item, seconded by Steven Pinto, and approved 4-0.
Robert Cucurull said he would bring a certified plot plan for the next meeting.
Petition of Tri-City Sales, Inc and Tri-City Realty, Inc requesting a Variance to allow two (2) principle buildings and uses on the lot located at 262-272 Highland Ave [R-1 and B-2] while approval is being obtained from the Land Court to subdivide the parcel.
Attorney Joe Correnti presented the petition for his clients. He said that the new development on has site plan approval from the Planning Board. He said there would be two new buildings on the lot: a new CVS Pharmacy and a new Tri-City Sales store with a Dunkin Donuts in the back. He said that they undertook a long process working with neighbors, councilors, and the City’s Planning Department.
Moving forward the site with be divided into two lots the CVS lot and the Tri-City lot. They will go back to the Planning Board to do the subdivision when it is appropriate. He said the lot is comprised of fourteen (14) lots; eleven (11) are registered with the land court. There are three (3) separate certificates and five (5) separate land court plans.
Attorney Correnti said that coming to the ZBA was a technical exercise. He said they have filed a petition with the land court to de-register the land though they have no idea how long it will take. He said it could take months or years, stopping the fully approved project, which is otherwise ready to go. He said they are requesting a variance to allow more than one principal building and use on one lot so that the project may go forward. Once the Land Court grants approval to un-register the land they will move forward with the subdivision.
Robin Stein asked whether the Board had any questions or comments. Robin asked Tom St. Pierre whether this would be a use variance. Tom St. Pierre said that the terms of the ordinance were being varied but it was not a use or dimensional variance. Attorney. Correnti said that the uses are allowed and the request is not to vary the use.
Rick Dionne asked whether there is a drive thru at the Dunkin Donuts. Joe Correnti said no, it is at the CVS. Atty. Correnti said that they are not asking for any changes to the Planning Board’s decision or to the plan.
Robin Stein said that she did not have a problem with granting the petitioners request as long as it was limited to the uses plan that was approved (not just any uses).
Kathy Desilets (6 Greenlawn Ave) asked about the construction time. The applicant responded saying that it would be a total of 14 months until occupancy. It would be sequenced that the new building is built in about 4 months, Tri-City Sales will move into it, and then the old building will be torn down and the next building would be built.
Kathy Desilets asked, what happens if the land court disapproves the petition? Attorney Correnti said that the variance would allow the project to exist anyways.
Robin Stein said she was sympathetic to the Land Court’s time table.
Steven Pinto made a motion to approve the petition with seven standard conditions and the special condition that the decision refers specifically to the April 9, 2007 Planning Board decision as amended. Robin Stein seconded the motion, and it was approved 4-0. .
Petition of Michael Redfern requesting a Variance from the distance an accessory structure is required to be from a side lot line (5’), to allow a shed to remain 2’ from the side lot line at 4 Andrew St [R-2].
Michael Redford presented the petition for the property he owns at 4 Andrew Street. He said when he moved to Salem he put a shed on his property to store his lawn mower and other things. He said when he looked around the neighborhood he saw many sheds 2’ from the lot line and so they constructed a shed at this location on their lot. He wants to leave the shed in it’s current location. He said that there was no way to take it apart and if it was moved it would need to be moved by a crane. He said he talked to his neighbors and they have no opposition. He said it is situated between two trees and does not block the Fire Department’s access to the residence.
Judith Beals (6 Andrew Street Unit 1) said she was not notified about this issue. Amy said that she is on the abutters list and is not sure why she did not receive a notice. Amy knows that the notice went out successfully because other abutters have called to ask questions about the petition. Judith Beals said that Michael Redford did not talk to her so therefore he did not talk to all of the neighbors like he had said. She said that she came to the meeting because she wanted to make sure the only issue was the distance from the side lot line, and if so, she did not have an issue with this. Robin Stein said yes that was the only issue.
There being no further questions or comments, Beth Debski made a motion to approve the petition that the shed remain in its current location. The motion was seconded by Robin Stein, and approved 4-0. Tom St. Pierre instructed the applicant to come in a pull a permit for the shed following the end of the appeal period.
o Revised Board of Appeals Application Package
The Board voted to continue discussion on the revised application package until January when more members would be present.
o Vote to adopt 2008 Meeting Schedule
Amy noted that she had revised the 2008 as requested by the Board so that the February meeting would be on the second week of the month, and not during school vacation. Robin Stein made a motion to adopt the 2008 meeting schedule, seconded by Rick Dionne, and approved (4-0).
The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 pm.