Residents on Deerfoot Road and Flagg Road were concerned about the safety and traffic impacts of two Use Variance requests in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals last night.
Two abutters to 84 Main Street, spoke in opposition of converting the stone chapel into a retail location. Developer Kevin Giblin argued that the foot traffic and parking along that area by people fishing is already a problem. Neighbor Wendy Black agreed. The ZBA sided with them on the issue.
The board did allow a Use Variance for the proposed Bed and Breakfast, but not for the store. In debating the issue, member David Eagle opined that converting the shop to retail was a minor detail to the owner. (He may have been wrong. Southborough Wicked Local reports that owner Jon Delli Priscolli was angered by the decision. For details on that, read SWL’s coverage.)
Later in the meeting, the board approved a project for 158 new townhouses with a planned exit onto Flagg Road which connects to Deerfoot. The resulting traffic on both roads was a point of ire for residents of Flagg Road.
The developer’s attorney and ZBA members pointed to traffic studies claiming that the additional traffic generated by the 40B is not a safety issue. [Editor’s Note: The peer review conducted by a ZBA consultant did warn that additional development on the property could be an issue. I haven’t see any traffic reports incorporating the newly proposed townhouses.]
Developer Bill Depietri of Capital Group has been meeting with abutters to come to consensus on his proposed developments. At issue are a 180 condo unit 40B and, up for discussion last night, the townhouses.
Many residents of Bantry Road, Tara Road, and Blackthorne Road were upset at earlier plans that would have routed traffic through their neighborhood. Now that is largely off the table. The only proposed access in that area is a gated emergency only connection through Blackthorne Road.
The change now has residents on Flagg Road and other offshoots concerned. Chair Leo Bartolini explained that the board would like access to Route 9, but they are constrained by what the state will allow. He promised that they would be looking into that during the approval process.
To audience members who objected to the scope of the project, the board made it clear it’s the lesser of two evils. Members explained that if the townhouse project wasn’t approved, they would likely be looking at an additional and larger scale 40B.
Under the state’s 40B guidelines, the ZBA is fairly hamstrung on what they can control. Bartolini was adamant that the townhouse project, and the connected compromises to the 40B project, was in the best interest of the town and neighbors.
While the Use Variance was approved, some conditions are still to be discussed and voted on at the board’s June 10th meeting.
Man comes from out of town and presents a magnificent plan, called DEERFOOT, that would be of immense long term value to Southborough. In his original presentation at the ZBA a month ago he talks about his willingness to work with the town on details. One such was the idea that he might like to sell high end antiques at times in the small Stone Shop, aka Chapel. Last night an objection was raised about traffic and parking for this modest little so-named “retail” operation. That is utter nonsense. The few occasional customers could easily pull into the grounds. I know this place, for I have lived a short walk from the Chapel for over 45 years. Another detail was the idea of opening up the grounds at times for public events for local people. That idea was a feature advocated by our own selectmen. So last night it too became objectionable to the board. As I sat there and watched the ZBA nitpick Jon Delli Priscoli’s thoughtfully-crafted plan it was clearly evident they would derail the project. Then, when the board finished their tampering there was no chance for public comment. And derail it they did. In case you missed it in the post above, here’s a link with more details: http://southborough.wickedlocal.com/article/20150527/NEWS/150526572
Jon Delli Priscoli and our selectmen have worked very hard for a long time on this project. Let’s hope that the conditions for the variance can be worked out to get this back on track.
I too have sympathy for Mr. Priscoli. I have also participated in several zoning variance hearing over the years (I have been the applicant in 2).
It is important to note that a variance is a request to be exempted from the zoning laws that were passed by 2/3 of Town Meeting. To get to 2/3 requires substantial community consensus (You only count if you show up by the way).
The standard is that, in order to be granted a variance, the applicant need to show that the rules created a hardship on the property owner. This is not an easy sell. Beyond that, given the high bar for a variance, my impression is that the objections of a single abuttor will torpedo the application. The argument being that we all have to follow the rules. In both the cases I cited I got a letter form the relevant abuttor supporting my application.
The property in question was zoned for residential use not a commercial enterprise like a B&B. The ZBA probably stretched the rules further than they should have for this use, let alone a retail facility.
We voted the rules, now we have to live with the consequences.
Retail me this…..Thats all the restrictions zba could come up with. Really. Don’t be surprised when the owner/developer pulls another fast one on the town. Our by laws and zoning are so weak. Maybe he will decide to rent the bed space to the commonwealth of Massachusetts for a rehabilitation center or mental health facilities. Our state pays real well for bed space and on time!! lol…
I support Mr. G’s claims … How about we get some frequent radar traps where our children live instead of policing Rt. 9.
I live on Deerfoot Rd. and the foot traffic and fishing has never been a problem for me or my family near the proposed retail site. On the contrary, it’s nice to see people out, taking advantage of our beautiful town. I cannot see how a high-end antiques shop would generate traffic concerns (also, I wouldn’t anticipate people would be parking along the road anyway, but I wasn’t at this meeting).
From all I have read, it appears Mr. Priscoli is trying to come up with a good plan for this property. I hope something can be worked out.
Homes abutting the impacted area should be a concern. Fishing and nature walking is great but seek to understand, just because you live on a street doesn’t mean others are not impacted. Parkeville fishing has brought several questionable people on to our streets late at night with drinking and potential casing of our homes for robbery. Try having drunk men hanging out by your home late at night with children home on summer nights. Not so nice. Further parking restrictions should be created and enforced. The private parking lot spaces in public streets for the personal use of Fay School is unwanted and a hassle to our nearby homes. Let them build there own parking on their own properties. It was big enough for 4 + homes. I’d prefer a new church . Maybe the owner can find another loop hole and skip paying taxes too. Or shake us down again and see what coins we can vote to give him at the next town meeting. His comments reported to Mr. G if true are reprehensible and display his true arrogance.
One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. “Master,” he said, “let me put my nose in your tent. It’s cold and stormy out here.” “By all means,” said the Arab, “and welcome” as he turned over and went to sleep.
A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, “I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here.” “Yes, you may put your forelegs within,” said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.
Finally, the camel said, “May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do.” “Yes, yes,” said the Arab. “Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us.” So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself.
Here are the replays, courtesy of Southborough Access Media, of the two ZBA hearings that addressed the use variance request for 84 Main Street.
Caught on camera —- Jaywalkers on Deerfoot Road