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Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes 12/2/08
Becket Zoning Board of Appeals
Approved Minutes
Tuesday, December 2 , 2008

Board Members Present :  Sue Schneider;Chairperson, Joshua  Lombard ; Clerk , Mark Burgwardt, Robert Gorden, Madeleine Swindlehurst.

Board Members Absent:   None

Members of the  Public Present:  David MacWilliams

Meeting called to order:  7:04  p.m.  

Review and Acceptance of  October 7th,  2008 Meeting Minutes – Ms. Schneider solicits for a motion on the floor; Mr. Mark Burgwardt makes a motion to approve October 7th meeting minutes as presented . Mr. Robert Gorden seconds motion. Unanimous Approval.

Public Hearing: Mr. David MacWilliams,   3512 Jacobs Ladder Road, Map 202 , lot 5.
Hearing opens at 7:10.
Chairperson, Sue Schneider opens the hearing at 7:10pm. Ms. Schneider establishes a quorum and asks if there is a conflict of interest with the present applicant. Hearing of no conflicts, Ms. Schneider continues by requesting that Ms. Swindlehurst please read aloud the legal notice as it appears on November 17 , 2008 in the Berkshire Eagle.
Ms. Swindlehurst reads from the November 17, 2008 Berkshire Eagle:


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
APPEALS, In accordance with the Zoning
By-Laws you are hereby notified of a
Public Hearing on the application of: David
MacWilliams (Assessors Map 202 Lot 5) 3512
Jacob’s Ladder Road to vary the terms of the
Zoning By-Law 4.2.6 in the following respect:
To allow an 11 ft. variance from the side setback
In order to construct a 12’ x 24’ deck. The hearing
Will be Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008, 7:00 pm
Town Hall, 557 Main Street, Route 8, Becket, Ma.

At this time Ms. Swindlehurst notes that the applicant, when submitting his amended application page, added the word  west , in front of  side boundary.The word West did not appear in the original application.

Mr. MacWilliams approaches the board members present and introduces himself. Mr. MacWilliams explains that he is a plumber by trade and that the original 2’x4’ frame work just wasn’t good enough. Mr. MacWilliams  explains that they had demolished the original cottage and moved the location to accommodate the zoning setbacks. Ms. Schneider asks the applicant when the building permits were taken out. Ms. Swindlehurst advises that the demo permit was issued on May 16th, 2008 and the New Construction Permit was issued on July 3rd, 2008. Mr. MacWilliams goes on to explain the project specifications to the board. Mr. Gorden confirms that the abutters were notified and that there wasn’t any negative feedback. Ms. Swindlehurst reviews the plans from Berkshire Engineering. Mr. MacWilliams explains that at this time, it is his intentions to rent out his cottage during the busiest 10 weeks of the summer to accommodate Tanglewood, Jacobs Ladder, etc… The rest of the year the cottage would be enjoyed by the family.
Mr. Lombard states that the applicant wants a usable deck, also to be able to step out, onto the deck  from the slider, which would offer a second exit, which is required by law.  Josh advises that the question is the fact that the applicant would like the deck to be 12 ft. wide.  Ms. Swindlehurst states that the building is in compliance and within the correct setbacks. Mr. Lombard explains that the floor plan would have to be changed in order to change the location of the second exit.  Mr. MacWilliams goes on to explain that the original modular home company that they were purchasing from, went bankrupt. He states that it then took over 4 months to get his money that he had used as a deposit back from them. This coupled  with the fact that the flexibility of the modular company when it comes to where the doors and exits would be placed is very limited, poses a hardship to the applicant. Ms. Swindlehurst asks Mr. MacWilliams if he has given consideration to the extreme drop off  on the property and that the drainage may be an intrusion to the abutters. Mr. MacWilliams explains that at this time there has not been any fill at all brought in. Ms. Swindlehurst suggests that maybe he can stabilize the bank and plant some shade tolerant plants. Mr. MacWilliams agrees and advises that a stone wall will also be built there and that would too offer a solution.

Ms. Swindlehurst states a list of findings:
  • Property is not located in a flood plain.
  • Bank on westerly side is stable
  • Access and parking is adequate
  • There are no historic concerns
  • There are no objections from abutters or parties of interest.
  • Property is located uphill on the northerly side of Jacob’s Ladder Road, therefore there are no vista concerns(scenic byway)
  • Plot Plan- Berkshire Engineering-as corrected by Town Clerk- is acceptable
Mr. Lombard makes a motion to accept the application for David MacWilliams to vary the terms of zoning bylaw 4.2.6 in the following way: to allow an 11 ft. variance from the westerly side yard setback in order to construct a 12’ x 24’ deck. Mr. Burgwardt seconds motion. Unanimous Approval.

Madeleine Swindlehurst: I vote to approve this application based on our findings, which are part of these proceedings , and based on a demonstration of hardship due to the small lot (.25 acres) location of well and septic, and difficulties encountered with modular construction specs for location of doors and windows.

Susan Schneider- I vote to approve this application because there is no negative feedback from abutters and the need for a second exit is a hardship.

Robert Gorden- I vote to approve this application because it greatly improves the property without any detriment to abutters. There are no abutters that have registered opposition either in writing or in person.

Mark Burgwart- I vote to approve this variance due to the fact that no abutters have objected and Mr. MacWilliams has made great improvement to the property. Due to the rural location and property constraints this variance should not be objectionable.

Joshua Lombard- I vote to approve this request because it is a reasonable one: the westerly neighbor has voiced no objection and the building code requirement of a remote second exit is satisfied by the proposed westerly deck.

Public Participation- None

Correspondence- Read and Reviewed

Other Business- Schedule for 2009 ZBA meetings read and reviewed; all meetings subject to change pending Town Clerk’s approval. Ms. Swindlehurst requests that Mr. William Cichaski’s application remain on future agendas under old business.

Mr. Robert Gorden makes a motion to adjourn. Mr. Burgwardt seconds motion.

Meeting adjourned at 7:55 pm.

Schedule next meeting for Jan. 6th, 2009.

Respectfully submitted,

Heather Hunt
Administrative Assistant

Signed______________________________             Date__________________
           Susan Schneider, Chairperson

Signed_____________________________              Date___________________
           Joshua Lombard, Clerk

Signed______________________________           Date____________________
           Mark Burgwardt

Signed______________________________          Date____________________

           Robert Gorden

Signed _____________________________           Date____________________
           Madeleine Swindlehurst

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