Zoning Board denies two-car garage, approves closet
There were two items on the Zoning Board of Review agenda on Nov. 16, including the regulatory variance sought by Christopher Bulger and Sylvia Maxfield for a two-car detached garage at 34 Whale Rock Rd., a property that they do not yet own.
Maxfield presented documentation permitting her to present the variance request to the board on behalf of the current owner.
Zoning Officer Fred Brown pointed out that the application did not previously include the owner’s authorization permitting Maxwell or Bulger to make a variance application on the owner’s behalf.
Maxfield explained that a signed purchase agreement exists to purchase the property contingent upon the acceptance of the variance by the board.
Maxfield presented amended drawings and a neighbor’s letter in favor of the project. The letter was presented as an exhibit because the letter was not written to the Board and could not be considered correspondence in the case file.
The Board questioned the location of the proposed garage, and asked specific questions regarding the septic field location. The Board also asked if any trees would need to be removed, and if there had been a survey taken of the property in relation to the proposed project.
Board member Richard Cribb asked if the garage dimensions of 30 by 24 feet were the “minimum size for a two car garage?”
“It is a generous two-car garage,” Maxfield said.
Chairman Thomas Ginnerty asked if Maxfield had witnesses to offer testimony and there being none, Ginnerty asked for those who came to speak – first in favor and then against – to do so.
James Ingari, a neighbor, spoke against granting the variance based on the size of the garage, the proposed location, and the lack of specificity regarding the location of the right of way, the septic field and the lot lines. He recommended “alternatives be explored.”
Attorney John Murphy, representing Randy Ross and Jill Smith, presented the second case of the evening.
Murphy sought a dimensional variance on behalf of his clients who own the property located at 2 West Passage Drive.
The owners were seeking a 100.65 square-foot addition to their 2,500 squart-foot house in order to add a 5-foot-6-inch wide addition to the northwest corner of the house, which would serve as a closet for the master bedroom.
Murphy pointed out that the setback requirement of 20 feet was to the extension of Melrose Avenue, which had not yet been built and therefore was a “paper road.” Board member David Nardolillo would later say, “Melrose will never be finished there; it will never get built.”
Murphy explained that the proposed addition would be set on three piers, minimizing soil disruption, and the addition which would be 16 feet 4 inches from the lot line, and would face the unimproved section of Melrose Avenue, according to Murphy.
Murphy questioned Michael Darveau, a professional land surveyor, who testified as to the need for a master bedroom closet and the necessity of locating the closet in the proposed bump-out addition.
The Board questioned the proposed location for the closet and studied the drawings, exploring other options with Darveau.
No other witnesses were called.
A neighboring property owner, Alfred Yole, spoke in favor of granting the variance.
Ginnerty called for a recess while the members discussed the merits of each case, and motions were written.
Following the recess, Board member Joe Logan moved to decline the variance requested for 39 Whale Rock Rd. by Maxfield and Bulger offering reasons that included a failure to satisfy the applicative articles of the zoning ordinance, the lack of survey dimensions, and a failure to present a plan that showed the least relief required.
The board voted unanimously to deny the variance.
Board member Richard Boren moved to approve the variance for 2 West Passage Dr. listing reasons that included an absence of neighbors in opposition, the presence of a neighbor in favor of granting the variance, and an understanding that the real-scale setback given the unimproved nature of the paper portion of Melrose Avenue was closer to 70 feet than the required 20.
Ginnerty, bemused by the absence of a closet in a master bedroom, called for the vote and the variance was unanimously approved.
The next meeting of the Zoning Review Board is Dec. 14.