westlands watchdogs zba hearing package01-14-10

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Westlands Watchdogs ZBA Hearing Package01-14-10

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  • 1.Westlands Neighborhood Response: ZBA Decision Criteria for 12 Steadman St. Special Permit Application Respectfully submitted to theChelmsford Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting Date: 14 January, 2010

2. Summary Special permits shall be granted by the special permitgranting authority, unless otherwise specified herein, onlyupon its written determination that the adverse effects ofthe proposed use will not outweigh its beneficial impacts tothe Town or the neighborhood. . .Chapter 195, Section 103 In granting this special permit. . . Only the applicant will derive benefit There are no substantial benefits to the town or the neighborhood The town and neighborhood would be encumbered with onlyadverse effects 14 January 2010 2 3. Special Permit or Spot Zoning?Spot zoning arises where a zoning changedesigned solely for the economic benefit of theowner of the property receiving special treatmentand is not in accordance with a well consideredplan for the public welfare. Ruling by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Court of Appeals 14 January 2010 Should we even be here? 3 4. Home Occupation By-Law Home Occupations shall be (2) Not more than 25% of the combined floor area of theresidence and any qualified accessory structures shall be used inthe home occupation. Chelmsford Bylaws 195-7 In conversation with Evan Belansky, Director of Community Development, the definition of combined floor area shall be that of Gross Floor Area as defined in the Chelmsford Bylaws 195-108. 14 January 2010 4 5. Establishing the Gross Floor Area THE SECOND FLOOR AND BASEMENT OF HOUSE (PERSONALSPACE), AND SECOND FLOOR OF GARAGE (OFFICE SPACE)HAVE CEILINGS THAT ARE LESS THAN 73, BUT WEREINCLUDED IN GROSS SPACE ... According to the By-Law, GROSS FLOOR AREA is defined as, The sum of the horizontal areas of the floors of a building or several buildings on the same lot measured from the exterior face of exterior walls or from the center line of the wall separating two buildings, not including any space where the floor-to-ceiling height is less than seven feet three inches. -Chelmsford Bylaws 195-108 Word Usage andDefinitions 14 January 20105 6. Business Use % Exceeds 195-7 and Precludes Special Permit Consideration Without the basement, Gross floor area = 3,418 ft.4463 ft - 1045 ft = 3,418 With a total business use of 1,046 ft, the business use = 30%[796 + 25%(998)] / 3418 = 1046 Consideration of dual use in bedrooms 2 and 3 (98.5 ft) gives an actual business use of:33%[98.5+796 + 25%(998)] / 3418 = 1046 14 January 20106 7. Additional ConsiderationsA Net Floor Area excludes cellars and attic areas used only for storage, bathrooms, stairwells, elevators, mechanical rooms or areas for service incidental to the operation or maintenance of the building. Chelmsford Bylaws 195-108Using Net Floor Area, Business Use = 33%Total Gross Floor Area (4463) Basement (1045) Bathrooms (201) Stairwells (88)= Net Floor Area (3129)> Business Use (1045.5) / Net Floor Area (3129) = 33%Under the Massachusetts Basic Building Code, laboratories for testing and research are specifically mentioned as business occupancies. 780 CMR 304.0 Business Group BThe Massachusetts Building Code defines a HABITABLE SPACE as a space in a building for living, sleeping, eating or cooking. Bathrooms, toilet rooms, closets,halls, storage or utility spaces and similar areas are not considered habitable spaces. 780 CMR 5202 Definitions 14 January 20107 8. In accordance with the Gross Floor Area Definition Removing all rooms that do not meet the definitional threshold, the true gross floor area = 1965 ft Business Use = 387 ft Dual Purpose Use = 768 ft Personal Use = 542 ft Total Business Use = 579 ft or overall use of29%14 January 2010 8 9. Chapter 195, Section 103 Criteria(1) Social, economic or community needs which are served by the proposal;(2) Traffic flow and safety, including parking and loading;(3) Adequacy of utilities and other public services;(4) Neighborhood character and social structures;(5) Impacts on the natural environment; and(6) Potential fiscal impact, including impact on town services, tax base and employment14 January 20109 10. Criteria (1): Social, economic or community needs Zoning bylaws and Master Plan recognize inherent social benefit ofresidential-only neighborhoodsSpecial permit would create a precedent that amounts to spot zoningIf its not spot zoning, its a new zone w/o TM approval or review. Anyone could have employees and customers on-site Customers derive no benefit from OBCMs operating in a residentialsetting may even prefer working with a company operating moreprofessionally Non-household employees do not reside in Chelmsford; one livesout-of-state Not using commercial real estate = empty commercial space; moreeconomic benefit if NOT operating in home OBCM website stresses growth goals in commercial space,business can move steadily ahead and legally add employees in linewith growth No public infrastructure improvements offered, such as sidewalks 14 January 2010 10 11. Criteria (2): Traffic flow and safetyOBrien Compliance Management has employees,vendors, deliveries, and customers driving in and out oftheir facility daily 12 Steadman St. is in very close proximity to ChelmsfordSt. intersection2nd most dangerous intersection in townPolice Chief sees need for cameras at lights to deter traffic violators Major business growth on Rt. 110 impacting bothChelmsford St. AND Steadman St. trafficLowes on the Chelmsford/Lowell lineStop & Shop scheduled to begin construction this summerANY ADDITIONAL INCREASE IN TRAFFIC IN OURNEIGHBORHOOD HAS SIGNIFICANT SAFETY IMPLICATIONS 14 January 2010 11 12. Criteria (3): Adequacy of utilities and other public services Town trash pick-up is intended for residential waste only OBCM is using town trash removal services for both theresidential as well as the business use of its facility Appropriate private trash pickup would require a visibledumpster on the property which would deter from thecharacter of the neighborhood 14 January 201012 13. Criteria (4): Neighborhood character and social structures Non-residential employees, vendors, and customersamount to an unknown, transient, population thatpresents concerns in a neighborhood filled with children The provision for business signage degrades theresidential appearance of the neighborhood In reality, creates a mixed-use zone Sets a precedent that would allow other businesses tooperate in same fashion ANYWHERE in town 14 January 2010 13 14. Criteria (5): Impacts on the natural environment Negligible 14 January 201014 15. Criteria (6): Potential fiscal impact, including town services, tax base and employment Town ServicesOBCM has consistently defied compliance with existing bylaws even with a cease and desist orderNon-compliance history requires monitoringZoning enforcement exceeds the capacity of the towns current, over- taxed Building DepartmentSpecial permit provisions, such as restricting number of outside employees to one, is unenforceable in practice Tax BaseEconomic deficit operating since Feb. 09 w/o payment of excise tax on equipment = loss of tax revenue to townDecrease in home values* = decrease in property assessments = decrease in revenue collection = increased deficits to town EmploymentOBCMs current, non-residential employees do not live in Chelmsford; one is an out-of-state resident *See next slide for more information 14 January 201015 16. Impact to Property ValuesRelevant to Criteria (1) and (6)WITHOUT a business operating next door 14 Steadman St. Price Differential = From Century 21 Market Appraisal Jan. 2010 Assuming 14 Steadman St. is average home inneighborhood,Multiplied by 21 Abutters* = loss Even a conservative estimate of / homeprice differential represents an excess of drop in market value for abutters 14 Steadman St.WITH a business operating next door*Total number of abutters = 31; 21 physically and/or visually abut 12 Steadman14 January 2010 Should our property values subsidize OBCM?16 17. Potential Requests for Property Tax AbatementPotentially, 21abutters could beseeking abatementsfrom the townLost Property Tax Revenue14 January 2010 Should the towns tax base subsidize OBCM? 17 18. Past History as an Indicator of Future BehaviorDefied initial order from Chelmsford Building Inspector re signageDidntcomply withLowellsbylaws From OBCM website: 2 Sep 2008 OBCM hires new Project Engineer; Enter and Exit signs appear on Staff up to four10/9 for Customer Open House. Due to a significant increase in new business, OBCM has hired its fourth Told to remove signage. employee. OBCM proudly announces the hiring of a new Engineering staff Signs re-appeared on 10/13 in member, Pooja Soni.preparation for a customer visit.14 January 201018 19. Past History as an Indicator of Future Behavior, contd Despite formal notices, OBCM continued to be out of compliance. 14 January 201019 20. Past History as an Indicator of Future Behavior, contd In December 2009, OBCM employees were on-premise 17 out of 18 business days > 3 Hours 4 - 7 Hours 8+ Hours 4 Times 10 Times3 Times 14 January 2010 20 21. If you give a mouse a cookieIn this case, OBCM doesnt just want a cookie. . . Wanted to openly operate against towns zoningbylaws Then wanted to operate covertly against townszoning bylaws and a cease and desist order Now wants a special permit for one non-householdemployee AND wants a variance for another employee Talks about wanting to hire assistants to Engineersto support growth Ultimately wants to advance business interests tothe detriment of neighborhood and community14 January 201021