By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Zoning Board of Appeals approved a proposal by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to create a museum at 191 Main Street. The church owns the property, which is the childhood home of Joseph Bates, Jr., one of the church’s founders.
Representatives of the church told the board that they do not expect a high volume at the museum, but do expect tour buses, which already visit the site.
Neighbors told the board that the tour buses cause traffic problems now.
Architect Thomas Peterman told the board that the site layout includes a place for tour buses to park and turn around, keeping them off the streets.
The plan calls for replacing the barn with a similar structure that will have meeting rooms, a kitchenette and two accessible bathrooms.
The first floor of the house itself will be the museum. The second floor will have a small apartment for visiting scholars and members of the church. Part of the second floor will be an exhibit of Mr. Bates’s bedroom.
The property is also home to a stone wall dating back to the 1600s and considered a protected historical site by the town.
Markus Kutzschbach of the Adventist Church said the museum will not only have exhibits for the church, but will also highlight Fairhaven’s town history, and the story of Mr. Bates’s life.
“We would love to re-open this house to the public,” said Mr. Kutzschbach.
The board approved the special permit.
In another matter, the board continued a petition by Robert and Judith Tubbs to construct a building with eight residential units at 294 Huttleston Avenue (Route 6), the former site of Dan Good Auto Sales, which burned down in 2006. Mr. and Mrs. Tubbs owned the property before the car dealership and took it back after the fire.
Ms. Tubbs faced a room full of neighbors opposed to the project, most of them complaining about traffic and dangerous conditions pulling in and out of Route 6. The plan calls for each unit to have two parking spaces, plus a few spots for visitors.
The property is 70 feet short of the 200 feet of frontage required, 72,233 square feet short of the 100,000 sf required, 42,233 sf short of 70,000 sf required contiguous upland, 5 feet short of the required 50-foot rear setback, and 19% over the maximum lot coverage of 50%. The property was just rezoned to allow a multi-family unit at town meeting.
“I know a lot of the neighbors are not happy,” said Ms. Tubbs. “But they are not happy about anything.”
She said that if she was not approved, she could simply file for a 40B project. That law allows a project to go forward despite local bylaws as long as some of the units are designated for low-income residents.
“We did…ask about a 40B,” said Ms. Tubbs. “It’s not what we want.”
She said they just want a “nice eight-unit” building.
At least 13 neighbors spoke against the project, with most citing traffic and parking woes, but others saying they were concerned about rain runoff, noise, and the size of the building itself.
“Traffic is terrible there,” said Janis Moses of Ocean Meadows, which is a condominium complex near the site. “It’s a very, very, busy corner.”
She said there have been multiple accidents there, and drivers have to go all the way to Stop & Shop to be able to turn left. She said when the restaurant was there, they had to contend with noise.
Ms. Moses said she understood they had to do something with the property, but people bought new homes right behind the lot, and eight units are just too much for the site.
“Not appropriate” and “congested” were d used a lot by the neighbors.
“It’s not enough land,” said Pauline Roderiques, who owns a condo at Ocean Meadows.
Jack Tam, who lives at 290 Huttleston Avenue, right next door, said he owned the land before and sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Tubbs, and spoke against the project.
He said there have been four or five “bad accidents” there, and there is a “big curve” at the site.
“It’s so dangerous on that curve,” said Mr. Tam.
He said he was also concerned about the size of the building proposed, and that no one had seen plans. A tall building would allow the new residents to see over his fence into his pool area, he said.
“I will appeal,” if it is approved, promised one neighbor on Welcome Street.
Ms. Tubbs agreed that Route 6 is very heavily trafficked.
“I don’t think eight units will affect it that much,” she said, adding that she could avoid the variances and simply apply under the 40B law.
She said there was “plenty of room for parking,” and showed plans with 23 spots.
Board member Joseph Borelli also expressed concerns about the size of the variances, not just a few feet off, but by 60% on the square footage in one case and more than 50% in the other. He said he felt the project should go to the Planning Board and not the ZBA, because, he said, it was a commercial project. But the lot had been changed to residential, countered Ms. Tubbs and the two went back and forth for a bit.
“Those variances are actually ridiculous,” said Mr. Borelli, causing some of the neighbors to clap.
The board continued it to the next meeting on 9/5, to get more detailed plans and to find out if the project is more appropriate for the Planning Board.
The board also continued a hearing for David Tomasia who sought to build a 24×36-foot two-car garage that will be five feet over the maximum height of 20 feet for an accessory structure and 1,028 sf over the 700 sf maximum.
Mr. Tomasia told the board that his existing garage is falling down, he has a small house with no basement, and he needs the garage for cars and storage.
Several neighbors spoke out against the project.
Jerrime Oliver, who lives next door said he felt that he would be “boxed in” if the board allowed the large garage to be built. He said the garage would be larger than Mr. Tomasia’s house.
“It’s out of place,” said Mr. Oliver.
The board continued the hearing to the 9/5 meeting and asked Mr. Tomasia to submit a detailed plan.
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