Walpole Zoning Board of Adjustment
Minutes: July 15, 2015
Present: Board Members: Chair Myra Mansouri, Bob Anderson. Alternates: Judy Trow and Stephanie Stoughton.
Absent: Members Vice-Chair Jan Galloway Le Clerc, Clerk Ernie Vose, Mary Therese Lester.
Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the August 2015 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions.
Roll Call: Ms. Mansouri called the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m. Alternates Ms. Trow and Ms. Stoughton filled in for missing board members.
Minutes: Ms. Trow made a motion to accept the minutes as written. Ms. Stoughton seconded the motion and it passed by board vote.
New Business: Mr. Steven Markiewicz of 215 Wentworth Road complained about having a wood-frame batting cage in the front yard of his across-the-street neighbor, Jeff Michaud. He said the batting cage is closer to the road than the setback ordinance alllows. The property is zoned Residential A.
Mr. Markiewicz’s letter to the Selectmen says, “In addition to being unsightly and likely to reduce our property value, the use of the batting cage is a nuisance from the loud crack of the bats and so forth.”
At Wednesday’s ZBA meeting, Mr. Markiewicz said it’s about 10 feet from the road. It’s a structure. It’s very big. It shouldn’t be there. They (the Michauds) should have applied for a variance before they put it up but it probably wouldn’t have qualified, because there’s no hardship. It should be put in the back. It’s a ancillary structure. It doesn’t mean Mr. Michaud can’t make use of his land because of that.
Ms. Trow asked if the batting cage required a building permit. Ms. Mansouri answered “no” because it’s not a building. Ms. Mansousri said it’s not a building and it’s not a permanent structure. It’s 1-by-2 boards screwed together.
Mr. Markiewicz said it doesn’t have a roof, but it’s not temporary. You can’t pick it up and move it.
Ms. Mansouri said she spoke with Mr. Michaud and he said at the end of the summer he’s going to unscrew it and put it away. It’s not going to be up there all year round.
Mr. Markiewicz said the batting cage should put it in the backyard. Ms. Mansouri said she hadn’t been to the back of the property so she didn’t know if it could go there because of the slope of the land.
Mr. Markiewicz said if someone had a shed there and it wasn’t on a permanent foundation, he didn’t think the zoning board would allow it. Ms. Mansouri said if the shed were temporary, it would be allowed.
Ms. Stoughton read the definition of a building in Article 17: “Building is a structure having a roof supported by columns or walls and intended for the shelter, housing or enclosure of any individual, animal, process, equipment, goods or material of any kind or nature.” Then she asked Mr. Markiewicz if it had a roof. Mr. Markiewicz said no but the top is wire. Mr. Stoughton said then it’s not a building. Mr. Markiewicz said it’s a structure not a building. Ms. Mansouri said she knows it not a permanent structure because she’s talk to Mr. Michaurd.
Then Ms. Mansouri asked if Mr. Markiewicz had approached Mr. Michaud to see if he would take it down and put it in the backyard. Mr. Markiewicy said he had not.
Zone Residential A Yard Requirements say nothing about structures, Ms. Trow said. The ordinance states that “No building may be erected closer than sixty-five (65) feet to the center line of the abutting right-of-way nor closer than 20 feet (20) to any side or rear property line.”
Mr. Anderson said, “It only talks about a building.”
Mr. Blount said Mr. Michaud was his next door neighbor. The batting cage is big, it’s ugly and it’s in use almost every day. It is 10 feet from the road and the kids are running back and forth playing baseball. “We’re going to lose a kid up there,” he said. There’s a team and some are working in the batting cage and some are playing baseball in the yard.
Ms. Mansouri asked if the kids were in the road. Mr. Blount said he hadn’t seen them but they are close to the road. Then she asked if there was adult supervision. Mr. Blount said “not necessarily.”
Ms. Blount said that she didn’t think the kids used the batting cage unless Mr. Michaud is there, but they play outside in the yard. Mr. Blount said the ball sometimes comes into his yard or goes across the street and someone has to go get it.
Mr. Markiewicz said this structure must weigh a couple of tons. It’s pretty large. Those of us who are ready to put our houses on the market, this detracts from property values.
Ms. Mansouri said she could take the opposite view because it shows that kids have a place to play, they’re on the front lawn, parents know where they are and they are playing.
Mr. Blount said we’re not against kids have fun and playing, that was part of growing up. And Ms. Blount said she and her husband were not against the batting cage, but it should be in the back.
According to the rules and regulations of the Walpole Zoning Ordinance, it’s not a permanent structure, Ms. Mansouri said.
Ms. Stoughton said this is neighbor talking to neighbor.
The suggestion was that the Mr. Markiewicz and Mr. and Mrs. Blount talk with Mr. Michaud and since Mr. Michaud is going to take it down at the end of the season, they may ask him if next year he can put the structure in the backyard.
Mr. Anderson agreed. Mr. Michaud is going to take it down and next season, if it’s not a burden, ask him if he would put it in his backyard.
Series of training seminars in Chesterfield: Board members and Alternates received copies of a list of 15 seminar topics that will be hosted by the Chesterfield Selectmen sometime in the future. The seminars are intended for municipal officials with and interest in any aspect of municipal land use and open to planning and zoning board members. If any board member is interested in attending a seminar, he/she should contact Steve Dateless by calling the the Selectman’s office at 756-4249. or contacting him by email at email@example.com. Responses are needed by July 28.
Update on the Terry Holcombe, 54 Taggard Road, shed variance: It was determined that Mr. Holcombe and his neighbors live on a road that was thrown up in 1947 and are responsible for plowing and maintaining it. This means that setbacks and other road requirements do not apply, and that if Mr. Holcombe so desires, he can put up a shed for a tractor without getting a 65-foot setback variance.
Mr. Holcombe has spoken to Mr. Jim Terrell about the road, and he and his neighbors will have to decide if they want to take their plight to the town in the form of a warrant to be accepted by the townspeople next March. The road will have to be fixed up to town specifications and will be costly.
By-Laws, Zoning Ordinances and Maps: Board members and Alternates made corrections to the Zoning Board By-Laws and updated Zoning Ordinances. They will receive corrected copies next month and anyone who wants an electronic may get one by asking the secretary after she has made the necessary corrections.
The Board members and Alternates also received a large map of the Zoning Districts in Walpole, Conservation Lands of Walpole, maps of where the Walpole Wellheads are – Watkins Hill and the River Well, and a map of Walpole’s Public Water Supply.