SHIRLEY — With five appointed members, the Zoning Board of appeals has a full roster for the first time in recent memory. All are new to the board and were seated after the resignation of the former board, whose veteran members had served for many years.
The freshly minted ZBA members are Laurel Hayes, Kevin Kelly, Lora Prescott, Josh Badarian and Chairman Leonardo Guercio, a lifelong resident and former Bull Run innkeeper who has a history serving on town boards. Guercio was a selectman more than once and has been a Sewer Commissioner for several years.
Badarian, the most recently appointed member, had not been sworn in yet and was unable to vote on the two applications the board approved last Wednesday night in separate hearings, both of which were continuations from Oct. 8. But he did participate in discussion.
With a quorum established, there was no problem, Guercio said. Last time around, the question came up, so they cleared it with town counsel, he said.
Guercio said the first of the two hearings was only the board’s third and they are still “maneuvering through town and state bylaws” to ensure they apply the criteria correctly. Their attorney was consulted when they had questions, he said.
For example, they asked about a quorum and were told they needed one for the hearings, Guercio said. Not meeting that benchmark when the two applications approved at the recent session first came before the board, both hearings were continued, he said.
In the first of the two hearings, second time around, a variance was granted to Roux’s Market on Front Street to erect a sign that exceeds parameters, 36 square feet, eight feet high and nonilluminated, that would allow it by right on the commercially-zoned property.
But the sign the store owner asked to put up outside his business is 15 feet high, and it’s illuminated. Besides the quorum issue, the board had questions last time, Guercio said, including whether there were “other variations” of the sign as presented.
This time, Mr. Patel, who owns the store, was out of the country but a representative, Terry Wilkins, spoke for him. He submitted three alternative sign options for the board to choose from, which they did.
After some discussion, members agreed to grant the applicant’s request, with conditions. The sign can only be lit from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., although the store is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. The sign, which can be programmed to switch its advertising, can only do so at intervals of not less than 20 minutes and it can’t include scrolling, animation or flashing.
The other hearing was on the application of John and Ann Towne, of Great Road. Their request sought “zoning relief” to create a so-called “horseshoe” lot and a new driveway with access off Lawton Road via an abutting lot they also own.
Seeking to “downsize” in their retirement years, the couple intends to build a smaller house on the new lot and sell their current home, they said.
Bruce Ringwall, of the civil engineering firm GPR presented the Townes’ case, describing areas at issue such as property line setbacks. None of the proposed variances would be detrimental to abutters who have been neighbors for many years, he said.
Twenty three abutters were duly notified, Guercio said. Abutters who came to the hearing — Renee and Andrew Burns and Paul McCarthy — had no objections to the plan.
With paperwork in order, taxes paid and no objections from other town boards, the ZBA granted the request.