Friday, June 12, 2009 

DORSET — Two appeals have been filed on the permit issued to Brad Tyler late last month for the construction of three 2,000 square foot self storage units on the site of his home and electric business, which is located in a Village Commercial District on Route 30, near the town boundary with Manchester.

The appellants — who number upwards of 70 between the two appeals — are appealing the permit on the premise that it violates the town's bylaws. However, zoning administrator, Joseph Bamford, said the project is a permitted use under the law.

The first appeal, one filed by Jacqueline Pistell, asserts that the project is not a permitted use in the Village Commercial district.

"I thought that the decision to issue the permit was a violation of the zoning bylaw," Pistell said in a telephone interview.

More specifically, according to the letter of appeal, the project is in violation of two sections of the town's bylaws.

The appeal in part states regarding Section 6.1, "the facilities planned do not provide any convenience services or incidental shopping for residents and visitors of the village areas while protecting scenic and environmental qualities of those lands and retaining the residential character of the villages.'"

The appeal also states that the storage bays are "incongruent with residential character" and do not meet any of the permitted uses described in section Section 6.3.4 (b) of the bylaw.


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The second appeal also asserts that the project is in violation of the bylaw and that zoning administrator Joseph Bamford made errors in judgement pertaining to the project. The appeal, filed by Eric Rosencrantz states in part, "the zoning administrator erred in his apparent conclusion that the construction and use of three self-storage buildings should be considered a customary home occupation or other permitted use under the zoning bylaw. Therefore, the zoning administrator erred in issuing the zoning permit."

Public hearing requested

The appeal continues to request that the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) conduct a public hearing, rule that the proposed use is not permitted in the Village Commercial district and that the permit be revoked.

"We felt that specifically the permit was invalid and needed to be reevaluated and needed to be withdrawn by the zoning board," Rosencrantz said.

However, Bamford said that he felt the project was a permitted use in that zone.

"The permitted uses was retail sales, rentals and it's definitely a rental," Bamford said.

The appeal will go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) which will have 60 days to hold a hearing on the matter.

After the case is heard at that level, Bamford said the appellants could appeal to the state Environmental Court if the outcome should be unfavorable.

Although no decision has been made whether or not that will happen if the ZBA does not revoke the permit, Rosencrantz said it is under consideration.

Bamford, who has served as Dorset's zoning administrator for the past 20 years, said that the project has drawn more appellants than any other project brought before the town in his tenure.

When the topic was discussed before the planning commission in April, controversy arose over whether the project was a permitted use in that specific location because the area was zoned as village commercial.

Ultimately the project was approved after meeting all of the criteria required by the planning commission's site plan review and the few concerns remaining were addressed and answered adequately.

One of those concerns centered around hours of operation. There was some concern that people might access the storage units at odd hours, possibly creating a disturbance. To alleviate that concern, Tyler stated at last month's meeting that he would install a gate around the facility and post hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the three facilities.

Speath Engineering engineer, John Wright — who is representing Tyler — addressed the issue of traffic at last month's meeting stating that the proposed project would only generate a total of 11 new trips, that access was adequate for what they were proposing and that the site distance met the state criteria.

Several phone calls to Tyler seeking comment were unsuccessful.