The old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” may be wearing a little thin for a New Vineyard couple seeking an addition to their Murray Hill Road summer home. Marcia Rowland and Suzanne Adams were denied a building permit for a second time Oct. 16 for a home expansion project. The couple sought a permit on May 15 to add a deck to their house’s east side.
But the planning board ruled there wasn’t enough buildable area. The house is a non-conforming property in general residence and shoreland overlay zones. The couple appealed and a hearing was held Aug. 26. The appeals board rejected Rowland and Adams’ appeal to build a 35-foot by 10-foot deck, ruling it violated a town ordinance on buildable area requirements inside the 75-foot setback in the shoreland zone. However, the appeals board disagreed on a planning board finding that there was zero buildable area. The appeals board suggested applicants reapply with the deck located away from the shoreland zone.
So the couple reapplied with a new deck location, but got the same result. The planning board voted 3-0 Oct. 16, denying their application. The five-person board had only three members present: Chairman Sam Morris, Rob Ham and Dimsie McBride. Town attorney Sally Daggett advised planning board members on interpreting municipal ordinances. After reviewing the amended application, the board ruled, again, there was no buildable area. “I don’t see how this application shows there is any buildable area. I don’t know what basis the appeals board used in their calculation,” Daggett said.
Rowlands questioned how she followed recommendations by the town’s code enforcement officer and appeals board yet was denied a second time. “I spoke with Jason (Lorrain, code enforcement officer) before I submitted the application. We followed the appeals board recommendations, too. I find this decision arbitrary as the board approved another application which had no buildable area,” Rowland said.
She referenced a December 2017 planning board ruling that approved a Shore Road resident’s bunkhouse addition. Following the Oct. 16 ruling, planning board members voted 3-0 the board was not bound by past decisions. “Two of us weren’t on the board at the time. We can only go by what is in the ordinance,” Morris said.
In other action, the planning board voted 3-0 in approving two other applications. A Wellesley, Massachusetts couple, Anne and Peter Weller of 13 Nason Road, received approval to rebuild and modify a stone walkway/pier. The structure dates to 1901. Over time, the pier has deteriorated. Modifications include raising the wall five feet and installing riprap three feet high and four feet wide.
The board approved a change of use for a Wiscasset Road property. Lisa Burnham has entered into an agreement to buy a 494 Wiscasset Road property that includes a home and garage. She plans to move her retail business, Begin Again, into the garage.
The board meets next at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 in the municipal building’s conference room.