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Zoning Board feeling 7-year itch over Coppersmith Way

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TOWNSEND — An ongoing dispute between the Zoning Board of Appeals and local developer Transformations Inc., over Coppersmith Way appears no closer to any real settlement.

The board members expressed clear frustration over the matter and argued vehemently with what the developer’s attorney presented as facts during the continuation of a public appeal hearing.

R. Carter Scott, the developer of Coppersmith Way, is appealing a decision by the building commissioner, claiming that it was made based on outdated information. The dispute started seven years ago, according to board member David Chenelle.

The dispute stems from a difference of opinion over how a line in the original 2001 decision could be interpreted. The primary issue is that of decks and porches, or any other extension of the house. The decision prohibits their construction, but the developer believes the way the line is written allows for an exception if the extension is included in the house’s total square footage.

“You weren’t here for the original decision,” Darlene Sodano, vice chairman of the ZBA, told Patricia Nelson, the attorney for Transformations Inc. “We talked at length about this we said, ‘No decks.’ Carter understood that.”

Nelson argued that the extensions could fit within the building footprint; the decision prohibits the extension of the house beyond the envelope.

“You’re using the setback lines to define the building envelope,” Anthony Genova said. “But it is what it is. It has no bearing on the size of the building.”

Scott, also present, agreed with the last statement, but disagreed with Genova’s assessment of the definition of the envelope.

“If you showed those plans to me or to any other developer and asked to show the building envelope, they’d say it’s those (dotted) lines.”

Genova pointed out that it was how the board defined it that mattered, then asked about the total square footage. Looking at the original plans, Genova said, the development had exceeded its allotted square footage by 12 percent.

“The first nine houses are over square footage, except one affordable unit, which is under. How did you go from 530 square feet to what you have today?” Genova asked.

Nelson handed the board a document that showed the calculated square footage for the second set of plans, which had been delivered two months after the original decision. According to those calculations, the development was within its allotment.

“The building inspector is basing his decision on the original plans and not the superseding ones,” she explained.

“It’s not superseding,” Chairman William Cadogan said flatly. “They have to fit together.”

“I’ve never seen this document before,” Genova exclaimed.

Scott pointed out that he’d never been asked for it.

Nelson suggested that the board have an independent engineer “double-check” the plans and certify the sizes of the building, to make sure the square footage is accurate.

“That would be a positive step,” Cadogan said.

Both sides wanted to avoid any litigation and Scott was amenable to the idea as well, and the public hearing was continued until June 11 at 8 p.m.