REPORT ON THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS (7/23/20)
The meeting was held via Zoom webcast and was recorded.
Participating: Voting Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA): Steven Judge, (Chair), Tammy Parks, Joan O’Meara, Dillon Maxfield, and Keith Langsdale. Associate. Member, Peter Berek. Staff: Planner Maureen Pollock and Zoning Enforcement Office/Building Inspector, Rob Morra
Retail Marijuana Special Permit
Red Cardinal, The fifth of eight retail marijuana retail outlets allowed by our zoning bylaw, was granted a Special Permit with conditions to locate on the south east corner of the strip mall at 328 College Street. This business will provide employment for at least seven people, five in sales, a manager and security person.
Retail marijuana outlets are allowed by Special Permit within the Commercial (COM) Zoning District but not within five hundred (500) feet of a pre-existing school, providing education in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12, as measured in a straight line from the nearest point of the property line in question to the nearest point of the property line where the Marijuana Establishment is or will be located. Also, it cannot be located within three hundred (300) feet of a building containing any residential use, except a mixed-use building.
The place of the actual transactions is located outside the 500 foot buffer from the Fort River School but auxiliary activities associated with the business like outside queuing and parking are not. Similarly, auxiliary uses happen within the 300 foot buffer measured from the closest point of the building triggering the buffer to the closest point of the marijuana use. The Board determined that the proposed marijuana use did not include the auxiliary activities happening outside of the building but asked that the Planning Board amend the bylaw with a less ambiguous definition of “marijuana use”.
Garage Replacement at 117 Amity
With Berek replacing Judge, who is an abutter to 117 Amity Street, and with Langsdale, acting as Chair, the Board approved replacing the existing garage at 117 Amity St. with one large enough for a modern car. The addition intrudes on the rear setback. The design of the garage had already been deemed appropriate by the Historical Commission and the Local Historic District Commission. The only issue of contention was whether to include a condition requiring that the garage be painted the same color as the house. Ultimately the Board voted against this mandate.
Special Permit For Fence At 948 East Pleasant Street
With Judge back as Chair, the Board granted a Special Permit for the property at 948 East Pleasant Street to allow the construction of an 8-foot solid cedar fence on their northern property line for reasons of privacy, safety and aesthetics. The neighboring parking area full of trash and multiple trucks and trailers is directly in line of sight to the petitioner’s front door and front yard. The property owners/applicants state in their project summary that they are subject to verbal harassment, observation, and dumping by the neighbor along this line. A privacy fence would help protect this property from the offensive behavior of the northern abutter against whom there are harassment protection orders from at least three other abutters.
The board deemed that waiving this requirement could be justified under Section 6.29 of the zoning bylaw having found compelling reasons of safety, aesthetics, or site design.
Fences are considered accessory structures and
“ . . . shall not exceed four (4) feet in height along the front lot line and that portion of the side lot lines between the front lot line and the minimum front setback line. Fences and walls shall not exceed six (6) feet in height along that portion of side lot lines between the minimum front setback line and rear lot line, and along the rear lot line. –
6.25 Fences located within the side or rear yards and exceeding six feet in height shall be set back a distance equal to their height.