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Neighbors squabble over accessory building access


It’s been a busy summer for the Zoning Board of Appeals with hearings on some controversial applications that were raised nearly two months ago.

For Mary Ward of 29A Osprey Road, there was a new hurdle before the ZBA, as neighbor Timothy Dalton, one of several residents who share a right of way with Ms. Ward’s landlocked property, said he wouldn’t object except that doors to a proposed accessory building open onto the right of way.

Ms. Ward, an architect and owner of a nonconforming structure in the Near Shore Overlay District, is seeking variances necessary for construction of a new porch, garage, accessory building and pool.

She said she doesn’t want to hurt standing trees that aren’t invasive species and would upgrade her septics to the nitrogen-reducing systems. She wants heat and air conditioning in the accessory building in which she and her family would live while construction on the main house was being done. The building would provide parking for a car and boat and room for her husband to keep his collectibles, a hobby of his, and serve as something of a “man cave.”

An attorney for Mr. Dalton said the placement Ms. Ward wants for her accessory building would come at the expense of his client.

Although Ms. Ward tried to insist that Mr. Dalton had violations of town code on his property, including lights that hit her property, ZBA Chairman Doug Matz said that wasn’t for his members to decide. Ms. Ward argued that if her accessory building were to be placed where she wants, it would not only provide easy access for getting her boat inside during winter months, but would block the lighting from Mr. Dalton’s property.

The ZBA agreed to accept written correspondence on the application until September 12.

The ZBA continued its hearing on an application for expansions to a house at 8 Wesley Avenue in the Heights, a proposal that has met with resistance from neighbors and the Heights Property Owners Corporation (HPOC).

Attorney Lisa Kombrink and Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering argued that the project, despite needing several variances, wasn’t complicated. Ms. Kombrink said when she first looked at the application — to add a family room, a handicapped accessible bathroom and a corridor connecting them to the main house — it was “very ambitious.” But after studying them more closely, she said the requested variances were relatively small.

Mr. Sherman disputed numbers HPOC had submitted and compared the plans to what he said put it in line with what other additions to houses on Wesley Avenue have done.

Neither he nor HPOC General Manager Stella Lagudis were backing down, but it appeared likely the two would get together and try to work out the numbers.

One question Ms. Lagudis raised was that, if the owners saw a need for a large handicapped accessible bathroom, why that didn’t that carry over to doing something about accessing the house from the street. That was left unanswered.

Ms. Lagudis said additions others have requested did not raise the hackles of neighbors as this application has.

The ZBA agreed to receive written correspondence until September 12.

If the application for the Wesley project raised issues, an application from Joel Hoffman at 10 Bay Avenue in the Heights seemed to sail through a hearing. Mr. Hoffman wants to rebuild an existing garage on his property that has been used for storage space to be converted for use as an artist’s studio. He’s requesting the ability to add heating, air conditioning and a powder room with plumbing.

Landscape architect Brian Mahoney explained that a chestnut oak on the property has been lifting up the existing building and the tree will have to come out and an adequate foundation created. There would be no change in the footprint and the premises would not be used for sleeping quarters. The rebuilt garage would be two feet higher than the existing building, he said.

The hearing was closed, but the ZBA will take written correspondence on the application until September 12.

In other actions, the ZBA:
• Denied an application from Thomas McMahon to move a shed on his property at 26 East Brander Parkway believing that the shed could be relocated on the property in another area that wouldn’t require a variance.
• Approved an application from Susan Pribor to make alterations to her house at 2 Clinton Avenue. Variances were needed for a new roof over an existing entryway and restoration of a porch as well as some work done without a permit that included installation of HVAC equipment, an outdoor shower, a bluestone patio and an expanded porch area.