Zoning Board of Appeals - Sep 8th, 2020

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Approval of Minutes. The board approved minutes from their August 25th meeting.

Docket 3594 - 72--74 Grafton Street. The petitioner is represented by Attorney Robert Annese. Mr. Annese asks for a continuance; only two board members that heard the initial petition are present tonight, and he would like to wait until there are four board members who heard the original case.

Board votes to continue the hearing until October 29th. 5--0.

Docket 3628 - 16 Maynard St. The petitioner has a growing family and would like to finish the attic of their house. The intend to add a bedroom and bathroom to the attic.

Colin MacCondo (architect) states that 44% of the third story will have a height of seven feet or more. The roof pitch will be 2:12.

Steve Revilak (ZBA) visited the property. He says the property next door has a dormer addition similar to the one proposed here.

Aaron Ford (ZBA) asks about the structural design for the rafters and roof framing. The petitioner says that the plans presented to the board are design plans. The structural plans haven't been done yet; the contractor will work with a structural engineer on those.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

Chris Loretti states that the revised plans were not made available to the public. He questions whether 50% of the third floor will have a height of seven feet or less. The architect explains how the proposed dormer satisfies the height requirements.

Mr. Loretti asks about usable open space. Mr. Revilak points out that none of the front, rear, or side yards have a 25' dimension, so there isn't any usable open space on the property.

Public comment closes.

Pat Hanlon (ZBA) states that the DPCD memo was only concerned with whether the proposed dormer would satisfy the ZBL's definition of a half-story. He believes we've established that and can move forward with approval.

Approved, 5--0.

Docket 3269 - 34--36 Newport Street. The petitioner owns a two-family home, which has a single (tandem) driveway. They're seeking a special permit to add a second driveway.

Mr. Adams (petitioner) explains the proposal for a second driveway. Christian Klein (ZBA) asks if grade changes on the property will pose a problem. Mr. Adams says he's spoken with a contractor, and the contractor believes the grade change won't be an issue.

The Chair opens the hearing to public comment.

Don Seltzer believes this is a reasonable request. He asks about a large spruce tree that's in the vicinity of the proposed second driveway, and suggests the petitioner ask the tree warden for guidance on the precise routing of the driveway. He believes the second driveway is in keeping with other houses on the block.

Jess Ely lives across the street, and is also concerned about the spruce tree.

Arthur Gillis wants to understand where the second driveway would be placed on the property. Mr. Klein explains. Mr. Gillis is concerned that the driveway will kill the spruce tree. He's also concerned about drainage. This driveway would add approximately 550' square feet of impervious surface to the property, which makes it subject to the stormwater management bylaw. The petitioner will need to provide a stormwater management plan, and that have will need to be approved by the town's engineering department.

Mr. Adams says he wants to keep the tree and asks how to get in touch with the tree warden. Mr. Klein provides the tree warden's phone number.

Another member of the public is concerned with precedent. He believes that if one two-family home is allowed a second driveway, then it will only be a matter of time before all two-family homes ask for them.

Public comment closes.

Mr. Klein asks if the board wishes to add special conditions. Mr. Revilak notes that the petitioner wants to retain the spruce tree, and suggests adding a condition that the petitioner work with the tree warden to minimize impacts to the tree.

Approved 5--0.

Mr. Hanlon points out that stormwater management requirements are already part of the town bylaws. He states that the ZBA is not ignoring those requirements; rather, the ZBA doesn't need to impose conditions that are already imposed elsewhere in the bylaws.

Docket 3630 - 49 Magnolia Street. The petitioner would like to add two dormers to the third floor of their two-family home. They have three children who currently share a single bedroom. The dormer addition would allow them to have more bedrooms.

The petitioner submitted a revised set of plans, where more than 50% of the floor area is less than 7'.

Shira Lion (project architect) is present. Mr. Hanlon asks about the roof slope. Ms. Lion says the slope will be 3.5:12 on the new dormers.

The board discusses usable open space, and agrees that the property has none.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

Don Seltzer asks a few questions about gross floor area.

Public comment closes.

Approved, 5--0.

Docket 3632 - 469 Appleton Street. The petitioner has a 1.5 story house and would like to add a dormer to the front.

Mr. Dumas (contractor) summarizes the design of the proposed shed dormer. This is a small lot with no usable open space.

Christian Klein (ZBA) asks if the lowest floor constitutes a story. The house is on a hill, and a good portion of the basement is above grade. Mr. Revilak was also curious about this.

Rick Valarelli (ZBA administrator) explains the ZBL criteria for whether a basement is considered a story. The distinction is important here. If the basement meets the criteria for being a story, the new dormer would create a three-story house where the height limit is 2.5 stories; that's a variance rather than a special permit. If the basement does not meet the criteria for being a story, then it would be a two-story building.

Aaron Ford recommends having the plans reviewed by a structural engineer.

There's no public comment.

Mr. Klein says the board has two options. We can vote and apply a condition that the basement is not a story; or, we can continue the hearing until the status of the lowest floor is determined. The homeowner would prefer to have a vote this evening.

Mr. Valarelli says that it's not uncommon to adjust grading in by-right additions. Height from the exterior grade is measured 6' from the outside basement wall. If the basement is a story, the petition would have to add a retaining wall, and raise the exterior grade around the foundation, extending out six feet.

Approved 5--0.