By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Zoning Board of Appeals discussed 10 hearings at its meeting on Tuesday, 6/5, resulting in four approvals, four denials, one continuance, and one withdrawal.
After a bit of discussion and arguments against by several neighbors, William Alphonse was denied a variance to build a house at 1 Mina Street. The undersized lot is home to a barn now. Mr. Alphonse’s representative told the board that the lot was small, but noted that 28 of the 52 lots were undersized, and five were smaller than 1 Mina Street. He said building a house there would not change the neighborhood.
He said he believed the lot was exempt from the newer regulations because Mr. Alphonse’s father owned it and passed it on to his son in 2004.
Several neighbors spoke against it, one saying that he was denied a request to build in the same neighborhood and it would not be fair to allow it. He said the building inspector told him not even to try, it would be a waste of time. He said he was not against the new house, but, “Let everybody else build, too.”
Mr. Alphonse’s rep said the two lots and situations were not the same: 1 Mina Street is not vacant, and the owner has been paying a sewer betterment fee for something that he cannot use.
“It strikes me as patently unfair,” he said. “You have to rectify it.”
ZBA Chairperson Peter DeTerra took issue with that characterization.
“You bought a nonconforming lot,” he said. “And I’ve gotta rectify it?”
In the end, the board denied the petition.
Kate Markey and David Cope did not fare well either in their bid to get six chickens at 333 Huttleston Avenue. A special permit is required to raise livestock on less than five acres.
A neighbor wrote a letter to the board complaining about “incessant barking” by the couple’s dog. She said if they cannot “attend to their dog,” she did not believe they would be any more attentive to livestock.
The board was split, 3-3, on the vote, falling short of the four votes necessary to approve the petition.
One petition that elicited a lot of discussion, and some testy exchanges also ended in a denial. George and Sharon Mendonca sought a variance to build a 42×30-foot house on an undersized lot on Frederick Avenue, an unpaved “paper” street. Mr. Mendonca, who has owned the property for 31 years, told the board that the property has been in his family for three generations and he really just wanted to get rid of it. He said the neighbors were not interested in buying it, he has been paying taxes on it, his father before him and his grandfather all paid taxes for decades on the property.
Alan Ewing of Ewing Engineering told the board that the house will meet all the setback requirements and will be 30 feet from all abutters. The frontage, however, is 40 feet short of the 140’ required, and the lot coverage is over by 20,000 sf of the 30,000 sf required, and building coverage is over by 2% of the 15% maximum.
ZBA member Francis Cox, Jr., read a letter from building inspector Wayne Fostin, who was not at the meeting, saying that the lot was not grandfathered in (exempt from newer requirements).
Many neighbors spoke against the project, saying the lot was a refuge for wildlife, and extolling the beauty of the spot.
“What do I do with it?” asked Mr. Mendonca. “I tried everything. I don’t know what to do.”
As the neighbors expanded on their complaints about the size of the lot and praised the birds, and Mr. Mendonca tried to respond, Mr. DeTerra got a bit testy with him, holding him to the rules of only one rebuttal, which Mr. Ewing gave.
He said there would be no change to the grade, in response to a worry about flooding.
The board denied the petition.
Another hearing had a large contingent of neighbors attend, but they ended up not speaking on it at all.
Hans Doherty, 121 Farmfield Street, opened the hearing by saying there was a “misconception and confusion” about his petition. He said the characterization of his proposal as a Bed & Breakfast (B&B) was wrong. He only wanted to rent his house, he said.
Various board members expressed confusion, because he would not need a special permit simply to rent out his house, even on a regular basis.
Mr. Doherty said he wanted to rent to “upscale tenants” who would pay about $4,000 a week for the peace and serenity of the private beach. He noted that tenants would spend money locally, and insisted it was not a B&B.
Then why is he here, asked the board members.
Mr. Doherty said that Mr. Fostin said he needed a special permit.
Board members said they thought it was for a B&B.
Mr. Doherty said he was “disheartened” at the level of opposition from the neighbors.
He tried to get the board to sign off on the petition, even though the wording said “Bed & Breakfast,” and he insisted it was not.
Board members held their ground, saying they would not, because he did not need it for what he was describing, however, if the special permit said B&B, then that is what the neighborhood would end up with.
In the end, it was continued for clarification. The neighbors were not allowed to speak on the petition.
The board did approve four hearings.
Michael Cardoso, 54 Gilbert Street, received a variance to build a new 30×40-foot garage, replacing a smaller one.
Doug Medeiros, 131 Shaw Road, received approval for a variance to build a garage 308 square feet over the 700 sf maximum for an accessory building, and short 12’ of the required 30’ side yard. Mr. Medeiros told the board his basement gets water so he needs storage and place to do his woodworking. He said he has no close neighbors because he is surrounded by the large Normandy Farm and conservation area.
Also approved for his project, was David Small, 16 Widemarsh Road, in a continued hearing. He received a variance for being two feet short of the required 30-foot setback for a deck. Mr. Small told the board he needed to repair his deck and wanted to add a couple of feet to it.
The property is at the end of the road, he said, and the road running by the deck is actually a paper street, not paved, and not used by anyone, because his is the last house. There was no public comment .
Petitioner Matthew Brodo, speaking for the owners of 76 Farmfield St., received a variance for being short 7’ of the required 20’ front setback. The project will add a master suite and a two-car garage. Mr. Brodo said the lot was a triangular shape creating the need for a variance.
Christopher Ingrande was denied his request for a variance to build an accessory building 580 square feet over the 700 sf maximum and short of the setback requirements at 689 Sconticut Neck Road. Mr. Ingrande did not attend the meeting, nor did a representative.
Richard Tavares withdrew his petition, without prejudice, for a special permit to build a mother-in-law apartment at 33 Charity Stevens Lane. •••
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