Update to Historic Home Proposed to ZBA

Reading, MA — The Zoning Board of Appeals voted 4-0 to continue the public hearing to approve a special permit for the addition of a roof deck on an existing non-conforming garage as well as a connecting footbridge at 146 Summer Avenue on Wednesday, August 5. The property, known as Wisteria Lodge, was built in 1850 and was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1984. According to Landscape Designer Miryam Becker, speaking for the applicant, at one point in time a similar roof deck on the garage, with a connecting bridge did exist but was removed. The current proposal is to restore both to the way they once looked. The proposal also would not further encroach on the current non-conforming property line setback. Becker added that the Historic District Commission had already voted to approve the proposal.

Building Inspector Glen Redmond expressed concern with the plan, stating that the 2005 plot plan submitted needed to be updated and that a variance, not a special permit, was needed due to the connecting of the two structures on the property. Becker countered that according to the bylaw since the garage is less than ten feet from the house, it is considered to be connected already. ZBA members Nick Pernice and Robert Redfern shared their agreement with Becker’s interpretation.

One abutter expressed concern with the plan sharing that the new deck would be seen from his kitchen and would, “reduce the value of my property.” This input caused Pernice to question if the addition of the roof deck constituted a “change of use” and as a result would then require a variance as opposed to the special permit. Pernice, acting as chair, suggested that the applicant have current-condition plot plans drawn up, as well as meet with Redmond to iron out any differences. Becker agreed, and a continuance was scheduled for September 2.

The ZBA also voted 4-0 to accept the withdrawal without prejudice of a proposal from Jeffrey and Kristen Aborn to add a farmer’s porch to the front of their 19 Auburn Street home. The porch, as planned, would create a nonconforming front setback of 15.9 feet from the road. Houses in the neighborhood all have setbacks between 20 and 23 feet from the road. The Aborn’s desire for the porch was to create a more pleasing visual front facade to their home as well as alleviate issues of water leakage into their basement. “If I was convinced that this farmer’s porch was the only practical way to solve the water problem, I would vote for it.” ZBA member James Maughan stated. “[The proposal] does not meet the hardship criteria.” Pernice continued.

ZBA voted 4-0 to approve the application of Daniel and Michelle Grappi for a special permit to construct a two-story addition to their home at 23 Temple Street. The home currently is nonconforming due to its front setback, which is only five feet from the roadway. The proposed addition would be 11.6 feet from the road. Architect Nancy Twomey shared that the new addition will provide additional living space to the first floor and additional bedrooms to the second floor of the house and would not further increase the house’s nonconformity. Twomey also noted that the situation is “No different than any of the houses currently on the street.”

The ZBA adjourned at 8:40 pm.

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