WELLESLEY PLANNING BOARD
JOINT MEETING WITH ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
PLANNING BOARD OFFICE – TOWN HALL
Present for the Planning Board: Mr. Frisardi, Mr. Chazen, Mr. Chan, ………….. Mr. Brown.
Present for the Zoning Board of Appeals: Mr. Seegel, Mr. Becker, Mr. Levy, Mr. Sheffield, Mr. Sechrest.
Dan Picking, R.A. Sohani, David Zaltas, Sanjeev Singh, Hossein Jahedi, Mary Ann Figoni.
Mr. Seegel began the discussion by suggesting that site plan review should not be deemed a special permit. He felt quite strongly that this is not consistent with state law. He mentioned the Dover Amendment which exempts educational uses from special permit requirements.
Mr. Frisardi felt that this could incorporated into the Recodification project as a change. He mentioned that Mr. Bobrowski has done a number of such projects. Mr. Seegel was not sure he would be a good fit for this one. Mr. Becker felt it important to look at the process outlined in the ZBL and put elements in logical order.
2. Non-Conforming Section
Mr. Frisardi mentioned the Planning Board discussions and efforts surrounding the issue of Mansionization and the recurring comments from townspeople. He said this is the origin of attempting to set standards.
Mr. Seegel disagreed with the approach. He felt it is wrong and inconsistent with State Law. He felt that it would “hand cuff” the ZBA.
Mr. Frisardi said that the standards could be presented as “presumptions” rather than firm standards. Mr. Seegel, Mr. Becker and Mr. Levy agreed that this would not be appropriate either. The felt that each case must be examined on its own merits.
Mr. Chazen mentioned the Planning Board’s efforts to present useful comments to the ZBA on cases and will recommend denial of projects that appear to be out of context in neighborhoods.
Mr. Seegel stated that the ZBA proportionally hears very few of the cases that could be considered Mansionization. The bulk of the cases are built “by right.”
Mr. Becker suggested that some of the concerns could be incorporated in ZBA Rules and Regulations instead of the ZBL. Planning Board members did not feel this would be effective.
Mr. Becker suggested that there are conflicting definitions of terms in different sections of the ZBL. He suggested that all definitions should be collected in one place. He said that throughout the ZBL each incident of the term should be capitalized. It was not certain that this could accomplished under the articles currently filed for the Warrant.
4. Retaining Walls
The ZBA members felt that the proposal to require setbacks for retaining walls is not workable. Mr. Seegel felt that requiring setbacks for walls “robs” people of their land. He felt it might be considered an illegal “taking.” He saw no issue with walls on the property line.
5. Off Street Parking
ZBA members felt there are not enough standards for determining the proposed Parking Spaces Required (PSR). They felt the Planning Board would not be able to effectively administer the provision.
6. PSI Traffic
Mr. Becker felt that standard terms do not need to be defined in the Zoning Bylaw; that they are technical terms and recommended that they be deleted from the proposed amendment.
7. 500 Foot Rule
Mr. Seegel felt that the proposed regulations pose a hardship for corner lots. He also felt that the applicability of the rule was being extended to essentially every street. Mr. Becker said that the case that brought the rule to the fore was 119 Abbott Road. He said the Building Inspector’s ruling and subsequently the ZBA’s ruling on that case was correct.
Mr. Seegel felt that the rule was intended to apply to only “virgin” lots. He felt the “three house” applicability aspect should be retained.
8. Bulk Factor
ZBA members felt that the concept is workable, however, Mr. Becker felt that the ratio proposed is wrong. He feels that the suggested 4.5 ratio would not allow a reasonably sized house, particularly on the smaller lots.
Mr. Sheffield felt the Mansionization trend is fueled by land values. He noted that the split between land value and house differs according to lot size. On smaller lots 80% of the value is in the land whereas on the larger lots it is in the 50% range. This alters the teardown/rebuild dynamic. He suggested that the same principal that is used in applying the 500 foot rule, that is recognizing the character of a street in the regulation, could be applied regarding building size, building height and other factors.
The Planning Board thanked the ZBA members for their input.
Next Meeting: January 27, 2007 with Advisory
February 6, 2007 Public Zoning Hearing
Meeting Adjourned: 10:20 p.m.
Richard H. Brown