TOWN OF FALMOUTH
BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2008
These minutes are not verbatim
MEMBERS PRESENT: Kevin McCarthy, Jim Thibodeau, Dennis Keeler, Willie Audet and Stan Given.
MEMBERS ABSENT: Rich Bayer, Fred Jay Meyer
The meeting was called to order at 6:55 pm.
Kevin McCarthy is Chairman.
Mr. Audet and Mr. Given were designated as voting members for the meeting.
October 2007 Minutes: Mr. Keeler moved to approve, Mr. Audet seconded. Approved 4-0.
November 2007 Minutes: Mr. Keeler moved to approve, Mr. Audet seconded. Approved 4-0.
January 2008 Minutes: the Board tabled these minutes until the next meeting.
2. Evaluation of applications: Mr. Farris certified that the applications are complete as
3. Stewart MacLehose- Is requesting Conditional Use under Sections 8.3 and 6.7 to build a
single family dwelling at lot 35 Hartford Ave, Parcel# U04-035, zoned â€śRAâ€ť.
Mr. McCarthy suggested that since the application was discussed at length at the last meeting that the
entire application does not have to be discussed, just the added materials that were submitted for this
Stewart MacLehose discussed the details of the materials submitted, including the placement and
elevation of the proposed structure. He said that care was taken as to the placement of the building
to minimize impact on the neighbors. He described how the house is situated in relation to the homes
Mr. Given asked if the total height of the house is 31 feet.
Mr. MacLehose said yes.
A public comment period was opened.
Adam Jones, representative for the estate of Harold Jones, which owns the house shown in diagram
c-1.2 as provided by applicant, felt the proposed home will have a fairly significant impact on the
home owned by the estate. He would like to see more detail of the final design of the home.
Public comment period closed.
Mr. McCarthy said that this new information was intended to address the concerns raised by Mr.
Jones at the last meeting. He observed that sections 8.3 b and d seem to be the issues at hand.
Mr. Keeler asked Mr. Farris about how the design submitted would be policed once the applicant
applied for a building permit.
Mr. Farris said that the Board could make it a condition of approval. The ordinance polices lot
coverage, but the Board could make a condition that the building not exceed what is on these plans.
He thought the Board might want to make some mention as to any future expansion by future owners.
Mr. Keeler asked about proper erosion and sediment control, how that is enforced.
Mr. Farris said that would be part of a building permit submittal. Shoreland zone permit and building
permit applications require that information.
Mr. Given asked about the 250 foot shoreland setback and if the applicant was meeting that setback.
Mr. Farris clarified that the shoreland zone is 250 feet from the high water mark; the actual setback is
only 100 feet from that waterline. It is less than that from wetlands. In the report they have identified
the seasonal high water mark. He said he was satisfied with what has been submitted.
Mr. Given observed that the description of berm lists it as 2 inches wide and an inch high. He
wondered if that is a typo.
Mr. Farris said that it is a typo. It should be feet.
Mr. Audet referenced Section 8.3 e, which says there should be no adverse effect on water views. He
said that there has been some testimony from the abutter behind that it will.
Mr. MacLehose said that the wording in the ordinance is â€śsignificantâ€ť. He said he knows it will have
an effect, but it is up to the Board to determine what is significant. He said they did try very hard to
not impact Mr. Jonesâ€™ view. He doesnâ€™t know how they could minimize it any more.
Mr. Keeler observed that the sketches were meant to address that issue, along with some others. He
asked if the applicant would be concerned if this was made part of the conditions, that the buildings
were in keeping with the sketches submitted.
Mr. MacLehose said that they did include the maximum heights for each floor. They are looking at a
28x28 footprint, which is listed on the sketches.
Mr. McCarthy observed that diagram C-1.2 has specific limitations. He asked if Mr. MacLehose is
willing to live with those dimensional limitations as submitted as a condition of approval.
Mr. MacLehose said yes, he was.
Mr. McCarthy asked Mr. Farris if they are sufficient for him to enforce.
Mr. Farris said that they were.
Mr. Keeler said that he didnâ€™t want to get too precise, but this is what is presented to the Board, and in
fairness to the neighbors he felt they should keep it in keeping with this.
Mr. MacLehose asked if they could have a leeway of a couple feet plus or minus. He said that they
are in an interesting position, as he doesnâ€™t yet own the property.
Mr. Audet asked about any exterior decking on the second story.
Mr. MacLehose said that all outside structures are listed on the diagram. There is no second floor
decking or balconies. There is a screened porch off the side of the first floor.
David Nichols of 30 Providence Avenue asked if a future owner of the property would have to come
back before the Board if they wanted to add on or extend the building outward.
Mr. Keeler moved to approve the application under 8.3 and 6.7, with the following conditions:
1. Any structures placed on the property are to be substantially as depicted on the sketches
presented to the Board, with a give or take of a couple feet, within the limits of the ordinance.
2. Any expansion to these structures is to come back to the Zoning Board for approval.
Mr. Given seconded.
Mr. McCarthy appreciated Mr. Jonesâ€™ comments, but the ordinance says a structure should not have a
significant adverse impact on water views. The applicant has said that it will have an impact, and it
didnâ€™t appear to Mr. McCarthy to be a significant adverse impact. He observed that it is always a
dicey area, to determine significance of impact. He said he was inclined to support the motion.
Application approved 4-0.
4. Tommy & Susan Raatikainenâ€“ Are requesting approval under Section 6.2b to build an
addition at 94 Leighton Rd, Parcel#U45-004, zoned â€śRBâ€ť.
Mr. McCarthy asked why the application was before the Board. He asked if it was because part of the
addition is within the side setbacks.
Mr. Farris said that the lot is nonconforming due to frontage. It is under 6.2 b because part of the
proposed addition is within the 20 foot side setback, but it doesnâ€™t encroach further than the existing
Mr. McCarthy asked if the addition is a sunroom.
Mr. Raatikainen said that it is a sunroom addition to a modest cape-style house. He said it is meant to
be a family/sunroom. It is not a bedroom, and there are no plumbing issues.
A public comment period was opened â€“ there was no public comment.
Mr. Keeler asked Mr. Farris if there were any issues with the proximity to the leachfield.
Mr. Farris said no; it can be within 8 feet of the septic tank, with the variance it can within be 5 feet;
looking at the plan the applicant will be 10 feet or greater from the septic tank.
The Board commended the applicant for submitting a complete, well thought-out application.
Mr. Keeler moved to approve the application under 6.2b.
Mr. Audet seconded.
Mr. McCarthy asked for clarification that they are approving the application as submitted including the
Mr. Farris said yes.
Application approved 4-0.
5. William Bennett - Is requesting Conditional Use approval under Sections 8.3, 6.9 and 6.11 to
tear down and rebuild in the Shoreland Zone at 40 Lowell Rd, Parcel #HL7-007, zoned â€śRBMâ€ť.
Mr. Bennett presented the application. The property is on Highland Lake, and he is requesting to
remove the existing structure and replace it with a structure with a foundation. He said they looked at
raising the current structure but they would have to remove too many trees. The structure itself is a
1950â€™s camp with a 1960â€™s addition and it has sunk. The sills are almost non-existent, and the floors
are rotting out. He said he can demolish the structure without removing any trees. Due to the
proximity to Highland Lake, they need to keep the trees as is. He is also moving the new structure
back, which will help stop erosion of the current banks, and will allow the installation of a vegetative
buffer. He said they will have to remove three trees. The plan is to put up silt fencing and hay bales
etc during construction to prevent any runoff into the lake. Mr. Bennett said that he currently lives up
the road, and he knows the property very well. The new structure will have a foundation and a buffer
to prevent erosion; it will have a smaller footprint than the current structure and will move back from
the lake. It is a challenging property due to its closeness to the water, but tearing up everything will
create problems of its own â€“ he would have to move the septic tank under the parking area, for
example. Mr. Bennett explained the color photos submitted to the Board. There is a stand of trees
that runs up from the lake through the property which contributes to land stabilization.
Mr. Keeler asked about a building in one of the photos.
Mr. Bennett explained that the building is a shed.
Mr. Keeler asked if that is the shed that was included in the square footage calculation.
Mr. Bennett said that it is.
Mr. Bennett said that the new plans are for a home big enough for his family; he wants to build this
with green building techniques, windows, etc. The current structure is a wooden building with wood
heat and electrical heat. He included upgrading to the landscaping in the plans. He said there are no
view issues; he owns the land across the street which is wooded.
Mr. McCarthy referenced emailed comments from Catherine McCallum, 48 Lowell Farm Road. He
asked Mr. Bennett to identify where she is a neighbor.
Mr. Bennett said that she is way down the road.
Mr. McCarthy said that Ms. McCallum said that this project would block the view from 45 Lowell Farm
Mr. Given asked if this project would block views from across the road.
Mr. Bennett said that there is no one across the road. This property has never been before the board.
Mr. Farris said that there was a request for a variance for the addition of a bedroom in 1975. That
was before the 30% volume increase limit went into effect.
Mr. Bennett said in response to Ms. McCallumâ€™s concerns, that he hired an architect to draw up the
plans for the volumes. He and his architect measured the existing structure with a tape measure.
Julie Motherwell, of 50 Lowell Farm Road, said she thought Ms. McCallum was confusing this
application with Mr. Langevein and 46 Lowell Farm Road, which was before the Board a few years
ago. That property would block views from 45 Lowell Farm Road.
Mr. Farris said that he pulled up aerial photos of this area and he didnâ€™t see any homes across the
road from the applicant.
Ms. Motherwell said that the next door neighbor to Mr. Bennett raised up that home last May, and
maybe that why Ms. McCallum is confused.
Mr. McCarthy said he was struggling with seeing any impact on these properties which seem far
Mr. Given asked about the height of the new building.
Mr. Farris explained that the height of existing building has to be measured as average height around
the perimeter the building; it is currently less than 20 feet all the way around.
Mr. Bennett said it would be 23 feet.
Mr. Given asked if it would have a full basement.
Mr. Bennett said no, he only wants to go down four feet for the basement. He only wants it for the
boiler; he wants to move 15 feet up to provide more setback.
Mr. Given asked if he is moving up grade.
Mr. Bennett said yes, to give more space. The structure is going back and up.
Mr. Given asked if there is any concern about any ledge.
Mr. Bennett said that there is a lot of clay in that area, but he hasnâ€™t seen any ledge. He said he has
dug down quite far to free up frozen pipes and hasnâ€™t hit any ledge.
Mr. McCarthy asked about the height of the new sill versus the old sill. He asked if it is being elevated
greater than 3 feet above the old sill.
Mr. Farris clarified that you canâ€™t increase the height of the sill more than 3 feet, due to shoreland
zoning. The sill canâ€™t be more than 4 Â˝ feet above grade, and you canâ€™t have more than 6 feet of
headroom in the basement.
Mr. Bennett said that it is going to be working cellar for the furnace only; there will be no living space.
He is not planning to put a bulkhead in.
Mr. Farris said that before tearing down the current building they will have to shoot grades, physically
measure the building at all four corners, measure the roof, etc.
Mr. McCarthy said that, looking at the sill as it is now, it has sunk into the ground; he wondered if this
rule is saying that the new sill canâ€™t be more than 3 feet higher than the sill is now.
Mr. Farris said yes, for example if the sill is on the ground now, the new sill canâ€™t be more than 3 feet
about the ground.
Mr. McCarthy asked if the 3 feet was grade or absolute elevation.
Mr. Farris said it was absolute elevation.
Mr. McCarthy asked if the sill height is relative to the grade where the new house is located.
Mr. Farris said yes.
Mr. Bennett said that isnâ€™t an issue, he is not looking for a daylight basement.
Mr. Keeler referenced Section 6.11, construction of a foundation under an existing structure, and
observed that it is not counted as volume if it meets the definition of a cellar. The definition says 6.5
feet of headroom, but only 1/3 of that can be above grade.
Mr. Farris said the State shoreland zoning rules definitions say 6 feet or less of headroom is a cellar, a
walk out basement can exceed 6 feet, but it has to be taken into consideration for area and volume in
the 30% calculation. The definitions between the State and Town rules donâ€™t match. 6 feet and under
doesnâ€™t count in those calculations.
Mr. Keeler said that less than 1/3 of the floor to ceiling height can be above the average finished
Mr. Farris said that they will have to take that into account when we do the measurements. It is a very
tricky calculation with the grades around the lake; many of the buildings have these walk-out
Mr. Keeler said he wants the applicant to be aware that there are some tricky calculations with these
Mr. Keeler asked to review some of the calculations on the plans. He understood that the applicant
can count the shed since it is within 100 feet, but that it was going to come down.
Mr. Bennett said that was correct.
Mr. Keeler asked about the porch
Mr. Bennett said that yes, it is a three season porch.
Mr. Keeler asked if that porch is included in the 1428 sq feet listed on the plan.
Mr. Bennett said that he was not sure.
Mr. Keeler asked Mr. Farris if it could be.
Mr. Farris said that there was no distinction in the new state statute between counting area and
volume in a screened porch and a porch with windows. He said it appears to him as though the gross
area is 1428 sq feet, including the screened-in porch; this number is from the tax records. The living
area is only 1211 sq feet.
Mr. Keeler asked if, since it can be counted toward square footage, can it be counted toward volume.
Mr. Farris said that he doesnâ€™t have that in the new shoreland ordinance. It seemed to him that if it has
walls and a roof, it should count toward the volume.
Mr. McCarthy asked about the square footage of the porch.
Mr. Farris said it is 217 feet.
The Board reviewed the area and volume calculations.
Mr. Keeler asked what it is currently designed for.
Mr. Bennett said that there is a septic there now, and he will use the existing system.
Mr. Audet asked how many bedrooms the home has now.
Mr Bennett said the home has two and he is proposing two. He said he could have total of five people
Mr. Audet observed that, based on number of bedrooms, he could have six.
Mr. Farris said that a septic is sized by the number of bedrooms, but there is no definition of bedroom
beyond a room used for sleeping so it is difficult to tell.
Mr. Keeler asked if the existing septic could handle three.
Mr. Farris said there was a report going back to 1977 which said it was a 750 gallon tank, doesnâ€™t say
if it is concrete, just says the septic is functioning as it is designed to function, which allowed them two
bedrooms. This is attached to the variance request.
Mr. Audet observed that the game room has no closet, so it doesnâ€™t qualify as a bedroom.
Mr. McCarthy asked Mr. Bennett how many bathrooms are there now and is he adding any more.
Mr. Bennett said two; he is not adding any more.
Mr. Farris stated that before issuing a building permit he would need a report saying the septic is
functioning and is sufficient for the home.
Mr. Keeler asked if it was fair to say that the game room could not be converted to a bedroom without
upgrading the septic.
Mr. Farris said that subsurface wastewater disposal rules used to have a one time bedroom
exemption, but you would have to have a septic designed for eventual expansion. An additional
bedroom adds 90 gallons a day of usage.
Mr. Keeler asked if a new buyer wanted to convert the game room to a new bedroom, would they
have to come before the CEO.
Mr. Farris said that he would catch up to it if a seller marketed it as three bedrooms and the broker did
his homework, but it is very difficult to police.
Mr. Keeler said that they have to either prove the existing septic can support another bedroom or
expand the system if the applicant plans to convert the game room.
Mr. Audet observed that Ms. McCallumâ€™s comments seemed to him to have been addressed. He
asked if this is a year-round home currently.
Mr. Bennett said yes, it is a year round structure. It has been a year round structure since 1978 or
Mr. Audet asked him if he thought Ms. McCallum is mistaken that this structure will block the view
from 45 Lowell Farm Road.
Mr. Bennett said yes.
Mr. Given asked about Ms. McCallumâ€™s concern about the exaggeration of existing volumes.
Mr. Farris assured him that the Town will go out and measure and verify those.
Mr. McCarthy moved to approve the application.
Mr. Keeler seconded.
Application approved 4-0.
Meeting adjourned 8:14 pm.