Vol. III No. 16 8/15/2022
Notes from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting, August 2, Hybrid meeting
- Thomas Schuler, Acting Chair
- Patricia Andrew
- Mark Mills
- Jim Murray
- John Hyson
- Catherine Chester
- Also present: Daniel Pincus (owner) 8 Hawthorne
- Atty for 8 Hawthorne from Cain Hibbard and Myers
- Marc Volk, Foresight Land Services for 8 Hawthorne
- Steven Silver, Abutter
- John Hart
- Peter Strauss
- Schuler called the meeting to order, reviewed the proper steps that precede a public meeting, introduced the ZBA members, and turned the floor over to the attorney for 8 Hawthorne
- Attorney, in Elizabeth Goodman's absence, requested two variances
- Sideline variance — he said it was no more nonconforming than the prior variance, but it was on the other side (the east side) of the property
- Front variance — on front (roadside) the 8' wall will be 10' from the road (50' required)
- Wall could "step" — be as low as 2' in places — but not on roadside and planted with Virginia Creeper
- Attorney characterized these as hardship requests — property does not allow for other possibilities.
- ZBA queries
- How large is lot .9 acre
- How large is house? 3700 sqft — 2784 sqft ground coverage — over twice as much coverage as prior house (997 sqft) but does meet code of not more than 10% coverage
- If the proposed house were smaller, then couldn't the septic system be smaller? If the septic smaller then would decrease nonconforming setbacks on the front and side — allowing for less variance?
- Is there any other septic system possible? No. Is there a possibility for sewer connection? No.
- SB did not approve project but attorney for 8 Hawthorne stated, "We think we would win on the law if SB decision challenge in court." (They did file)
- Acting Chair asked if there were any abutters among the people present who wished to comment?
- Silver, an abutter, did not object; Strauss, not an abutter, thought it was a much better-looking house than many now on the lake. Hart, not an abutter, asked the following: the house is one structure, but when considering lot coverage, is the septic system another structure?
- No, but the wall is.
- "Then," Hart concluded, "it seems the structures exceed the 10% lot coverage."
- How many feet of wall? 105 feet. How many feet of wall that is 8' high? 35'
- Chair asked, weren't these the conditions when the lot was purchased? Yes.
- Did the owner know that the septic failed Title 5, and the house was uninhabitable. Yes.
- ZBA will go on site visit in a week to better understand variables after which they will reconvene and vote.
On August 9, after a site visit, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) granted variance for 8 Hawthorne by a vote of 4 – 1. The Chair disagreed saying the conditions vary from the bylaw and do not meet the condition (hardship) alleged for granting a variance.
Editor's Note: 1. Certain things said in previous meeting seemed to change: the square footage of house changed from 3700 to 6,500 square feet and the position of the 8' section of the wall stated as 35' long appeared to change from the front to the east side. 2. It was surprising that the ZBA voted without taking advantage of tools at their disposal — they can hire an engineer at the applicant's expense to answer the questions they asked. They can ask Stockbridge Town Counsel to attend meeting to interpret law. It is not the job of the attorney for the applicant to interpret the law for Town Boards. It is the job of the applicant's attorney to make the best case for the applicant. Finally, ZBA can ask for a continuance to inquire of Town employees if their opinions were accurately reported.
Photo: Joan Gallos