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Approved Minutes 01/16/2008
City of Salem Zoning Board of Appeals
Minutes of Meeting
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A meeting of the Salem Zoning Board of Appeals (“Salem ZBA”) was held on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 in the third floor conference room at 120 Washington Street, Salem, Massachusetts at 6:30 p.m.

Those present were:  Robin Stein (chairperson), Richard Dionne, Elizabeth Debski, Rebecca Curran, and Bonnie Belair (alternate).  Also present were Building Commissioner Thomas St. Pierre and Amy Lash of the Planning Department.    

Annie Harris arrived at 7:15 (participating only in Old/New Business)

Business Items

A motion was made by Beth Debski to approve the minutes of December 19, 2007, seconded by Robin Stein, approved (5-0).  

Public Hearing

Continued:  Petition of Robert Cucurull requesting to appeal the Building Inspector’s decision to deny a sign permit for All Star Collision located at 171 BOSTON STREET in the Entrance Corridor Overlay District.

The petitioner supplied each member of the Board with a set of color photographs showing the approach to the building from both directions on Boston Street.  The petitioner also presented the Board and audience with a poster that had images the proposed sign superimposed at 12 and 20 feet.  

Beth Debski asked if the applicant was still asking for the same sign at the same height.  The applicant said yes.

Rebecca Curran asked whether the applicant had considered a blade sign.  The applicant said he needed something higher than the roofline.  He encouraged the Board to look through the images of the approach to the building from Peabody and imagine what it would look like once the leaves are out on the trees.

Rebecca asked what the hours were.  The applicant said normal hours are 7 am to 6 pm.

Bonnie asked if most customers make an appointment.  Robert Cucurull said yes, you can assume that, though if he is going to spend money on a sign he wants people to see it.  Bonnie replied that she understands his point that a sign is a form of advertising, though she is concerned that if this sign is approved surrounding businesses will want similar signs.

Bob Brophy (165 Boston Street) asked whether the sign would stick out from the building.  To answer his question, Robert Cucurull showed him the image of the sign superimposed in front of the building.

Bonnie Belair said she was concerned about the look on the entrance corridor, and would not want to set a precedent with this sign.  She fears others will want a sign of equal height.  Rebecca Curran said she agrees with Bonnie and with the Planning Department’s suggestion for a 20 ft externally illuminated sign.  Beth Debski said she understands that the petitioner wants people to see his business, but she feels the sign is too big. She said the Planning Department spent a lot of time working on a design; she would like to see the applicant explore a sign off the building or take the Planning Department’s recommendation for a 20 ft sign.  

Robert Cucurull asked how many votes he would need.  Robin Stein said he would need four (4) votes for it.  Robert said he already had three (3) against his request and because of this would like to withdraw his petition.  

Richard Dionne made a motion to allow the withdrawal of the petition for 171 Boston Street, seconded by Beth Debski, approved (5-0).  

Petition of David Pabich seeking a special permit to expand an existing non-conforming structure by constructing a 22 ft. x 24 ft. second story addition at the rear of 92 Bridge Street [R-2].  

Attorney George Atkins presented the petition on behalf the petitioner David Pabich.  He introduced the Pabich family, owners of Renewal Real Estate.  He explained that Renewal Real Estate recently purchased 92 Bridge Street which has four studios and five one bedroom apartments.  It is a grandfathered eight (8) family that had an illegal ninth (9th) unit.  They are requesting a special permit for an addition which would allow the building to be reconfigured into eight (8) one bedroom units.  It would also be a safer structure because plans include the installation a new fire escape from the second and third floor down to the ground.

They expect tenants who rent one bedrooms to stay longer and be less transient than those renting studios.  They feel that this change would not be an extension of non conformity.  Attorney Atkins said they were willing to discuss the issue of parking, though he believes the Building Inspector is of the opinion that with no additional units, no additional spaces are required.  Tom St. Pierre confirmed he agreed with the statement.

Tom St. Pierre noted that the applicant had stated in his letter to the Board that the footprint would not be changing; he said that technically the addition of the fire escape staircase would change the footprint slightly.

Rebecca Curran asked Tom whether side yard setback requirements would be met.  Tom said yes.  David Pabich said there is still 24 ft between the new staircase and the side lot line.

Rick Dionne asked what style the roof would be.  David Pabich said they would be maintaining the same style as the roof on the existing first story addition.  

He said that when he first looked at the property he brought the Fire Department through because he was concerned about the fire escape.  

Dottie Tracey (82 Bridge Street) is concerned with the parking situation in the neighborhood and doesn’t want people parking in front of her house.  She is excited there are new owners and is optimistic that past problems they have had will improve.  

Attorney Atkins said that the Pabich’s have been involved in many buildings in Salem and their experience is that tenants in one bedroom units do not typically have two cars.  He said it is likely that some of these tenants will use the train.  David Pabich said he is expecting a different more stable type of tenant and he is aware or the problems that have occurred in the past.

Cynthia Hutchinson (4 Conant) asked what the fire escape would look like.  David Pabich showed her the plans.

There being no further comments from the public, Robin Stein closed the public portion of the hearing and asked the Board whether they had additional questions or comments.

Bonnie Belair said the Pabich family has done nice renovations.  She likes that they aren’t looking to increase the number of units and knows they won’t be absentee landlords.

Tom St. Pierre said that the Pabich’s truly restore buildings and the quality of the buildings attracts good tenants.

Rebecca Curran made a motion to approve the petition with seven standard conditions, seconded by Beth Debski, and approved 5-0.  .   

Councilor Pelletier said that he hopes the confusing language about parking can be cleaned up as part of the Zoning Ordinance Recodification.

Petition of William and Catherine Harrison seeking a Variance from side yard setback to construct a 23’ x 15’ one-story addition for the property located at 7 Beacon Street [R-2].

Katherine Harrison presented the petition for the property she owns at 7 Beacon Street.  She explained that they would like to put a one (1) story addition on the back of the existing residence and wouldn’t be able to do this and meet the side yard setback requirement.  

Tom St. Pierre said he knows the petitioners are not doing this for speculation and they are only doing this for their retirement.  

No members of the public had questions or comments about the petition.

Robin Stein said she thought it was a small dimensional request.  

Rebecca Curran made a motion to approve the petition with seven standard conditions, seconded by Rick Dionne, and approved 5-0.  .

Petition of Dennis and Linda Korumpas seeking a Variance from side yard width and a Special Permit to expand an existing nonconforming structure to allow for the extension of an existing room by 5 ft. and the addition of a 14 ft. x 24 ft. single car attached garage for the property at 3 Larkin Lane [R-1].

Attorney George Atkins presented the petition on behalf of the property owner Dennis Korumpas.  He said they would like to expand the family room by five (5) ft. and construct an attached single car garage.  This would cause a new nonconformity with side lot encroachment.

Attorney Atkins read a letter from Mark Coughlin the owner of 30 Memorial Drive into the record.  The letter expressed support for the relief, Mr. Coughlin said he is the closest abutter and that his own lot and residence was quite similar to the Korumpas lot and residence.  

Attorney Atkins explained that the property was originally used as a pre school and the resulting layout of the lot would make if difficult to have a disconnected garage in the rear.

Bonnie Belair made a motion to approve the petition with seven standard conditions, seconded by Rick Dionne, and approved 5-0.  .

Old/New Business

Revised Board of Appeals Application Package
Robin Stein said she felt the new application form is working well and people are filling it out in its entirety.  Amy said what the Board needed to discuss is the Notice to Petitioners and specifically the instructions to petitioners on plan requirements.

Tom St. Pierre said the certified plot plan should only be prepared by a registered engineer or land surveyor.  He also said that certain special permit requests don’t require plot plans and to include a line about this exclusion and suggested that requests relative to construction and alterations require plot plans.  

Robin said that currently the wording suggests that everyone needs have a certified plot plan.  Tom St. Pierre said certified plot plans cost $1,000 and the Board decided they did not want people to go to that expense.  Robin said she is satisfied with mortgage plans in certain cases.  Tom suggested requiring certified plot plans for buildings other than one and two families.  Rebecca said she had no problem with that except when something is real close to the property line and then a mortgage plan is not accurate enough.  The Board decided construction and alterations to one and two families within two feet of a property line should have a certified plot plan.

The Zoning Board voted (6-0) to adopt the new application package with the changes discussed.  Amy will email the cleaned up language to the Board to confirm everyone agrees with the wording before it is formally used.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Amy Lash, Staff Planner


 
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