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No cash, no personal checks with your ZBA applications

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

PEPPERELL — If you don’t follow Zoning Board of Appeals procedures to the letter, you won’t be granted an audience.

That dictum recently became apparent as two requests for special permits for accessory apartments were continued until Aug. 13 because neither applicant had paid the filing fee by certified check or money order.

One request for a permit has generated strong opposition. The other, none.

Those hearings, plus another for an administrative appeal of a denied building permit which was also continued, and a request for a permit for a home occupation in a suburban residential zone that doesn’t authorize such activity, created a full agenda for zoning board members late last month.

Keith and Deborah Bartleson’s request for an accessory apartment on Plainfield Road generated opposition from several neighbors, because it was made after the apartment was built, according to complainants.

An addition to their home had been built in 1997 which was incorrectly converted to a two-story in-law apartment with kitchen, according to testimony. When the occupants passed away, another Bartleson family member moved in.

The project meets all requirements, according to town counsel, including last year’s bylaw change that requires apartment owners to reside in the primary home. The permit had been rejected by building inspector Harry Cullinan last year, based on the complaints of neighbors.

However, certified check or money order was not supplied to the ZBA within the required 20-day window. The board would not accept a personal check, primarily because the board does not have the money to cover bad checks.

Neighbors were upset when ZBA Chairman Thomas McGrath announced the hearing’s continuance, which does away with the need to send further certified notices to all abutters. They felt the town has the responsibility to continue notifications, alleging the personal check offer was a stalling tactic by the property owners.

Everett Cole’s request for an apartment on Mt. Lebanon Street was continued until Aug. 13 because he had brought in cash.

An administrative hearing on Penny Batchelder’s appeal of a denied building permit, on densely populated Tucker Avenue, was also continued to Aug. 13.

The building inspector had denied her a permit based on town counsel’s opinion that Batchelder’s undersized lot was commonly owned and therefore not grandfathered when the zoning laws were changed some 30 years ago. Her attorney maintained a December 2000 Land Court decision establishes her ownership.

Discussion was complicated by references to lot numbers dating to deeds from 1895, while the street numbers differ. The board authorized town counsel Ned Richardson to confer with attorney Tom Gibbons prior to Aug. 13.

Kimberly Gordon, of Groton Street, was granted a permit to collect and sell collectibles on consignment from her 500-square-foot barn, after more than a dozen letters of support from neighbors and customers were read.

Prior to the hearing, the board had overruled an assertion that Gordon’s request was a repetitive petition and not deserving of further consideration.

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