SHIRLEY -- Selectmen approved a Department of Public Works request to remove six trees along Townsend Road after holding a hearing Monday night.

They also approved a request from Verizon to erect four utility poles -- two replacements and two new -- in the same area. But they didn't discuss the driveway permits that presumably drove both requests.

The reason cited for removing the trees was to make way for future driveways. An engineer representing Verizon said the taller, sturdier replacement poles and the new poles the phone and electric companies plan to put up would serve a future residence.

But the selectmen's agenda didn't include driveway-permit requests, and the owner of the lots, Dan Gardner, wanted to know why.

It was the second time Gardner's plans to build on his Townsend Road land have been sidetracked recently.

A couple of weeks ago, he came to the Planning Board with a proposal to build a duplex on the 200,000-square-foot site but was told he'd better turn to the Zoning Board instead.

ZBA Chairman Jonathan Greeno, quoting from his copy of the revised zoning bylaws, told Gardner at the time that zoning for the area rules out multifamily dwellings.

Gardner asked if he could build a single family, then covert it, which he said seems to be an option according to his own read of the bylaws.

There are no structures on the property now, Gardner said, but he'd already started work on a septic-system design for a two-family house, based on the premise that with a special permit, a conversion for up to three units would be allowed.


"But you're building new. ... It's not a conversion," Greeno said.

And his proposal still wouldn't satisfy zoning for that area, which rules out the duplex idea, members said. They said the structure he builds can't look like a two-family, with everything paired, but must resemble a single-family home from the outside.

Besides, Greeno said, the conversion scheme sounded like "skirting the bylaw" to him.

"I'm not here to argue and fight, just to interpret the laws," Gardner said.

"You can have an attorney look at it -- be my guest," Greeno said. "But I'm telling you what the bylaw says."

Gardner thanked the board and left.

He did the same thing Monday night, clearly no happier with the outcome.