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Specialpermit 12stedman Obrien


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12 Stedman St application for Special Permit and variance
Nov. 2009

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Specialpermit 12stedman Obrien

  1. 1. Cover Letter 1 Building Inspector's Enforcement Letter 2 Application Forms for 195-7(B) Special Permit and Variance 3 Rationale for Granting Proposal 4 Zoning Regulation 195-7(A) Checklist 5 Zoning Regulation 195-7(B) Checklist 6 Certified Plot Plan; Parking Space; Business Use of Space 7 Supporting Photos 8 Supporting Documents for Facts 9 Application Related Fees, Stamps, and Mailing Labels 10 Assessors Plat 11 Abutters List 12
  2. 2. Frank O'Brien 12 Stedman Steet Chelmsford, MA, 01824, USA 978 970 0525, Cell: 617 462 3228 16 Nov 2009 Evan Belansky Community Development Director Chelmsford Board of Appeals Town Offices 50 Billerica Rd Chelmsford, MA 01824 Reference: Zoning Bylaws 195-7(B), Home Occupations by Special Permit Subject: Applications for Special Permit and Variance Dear Mr. Evan Belansky: Please find enclosed my application for a Special Permit, and a Variance. 1. The Special Permit is requested to permit a home occupation in my residence in accordance with 195-7(B). 2. The Variance is requested to have relief from the home occupation dimensional size limit of 1 non-household employee as specified in 195-7(B)(2). I would like permission to have up to 4 employees, including myself. In support of this proposal I'd like to draw your attention to particularly the following compliance facts having to do with Chelmsford Zoning Bylaws, Chapter 195: • If I'm permitted to have up to 4 employees and occasionally a customer visitor, there's ample parking for 5 cars all meeting the requirements of 195-7(B)(4) for 40 ft set back, and parking space not exceeding 20% of lot area. See Tab 7 for parking drawing. • The home occupation uses less than 25% of total floor space as required by 195-7(A)(2). See Tab 7 for floor plan drawing. • If I'm permitted to have up to 4 employees, I'm willing to waive my right to a 3 square foot business sign, as allowed by 195-7(B)(3). My intent is to keep any adverse effects on my neighborhood's residential character to an absolute minimum, and so as to not set a precedent that might erode the existing slim separation my neighborhood enjoys from the nearby commercial area to the south, and the Lowell commercial area to the north. Granting this proposal would allow a quiet home occupation with 4 professional employees, one of which is the household business owner, in what appears from the outside to be a quintessential New England, 4 bedroom residence, with a 2 car garage, 1
  3. 3. on an almost 1/2 acre lot. From the perspective of any neighbor or passerby, the residence and its home occupation will seem consistent with a residential setting. Should the home occupation stay on its current growth curve, it will move into a commercial setting in 3 to 5 years. The future long term impact on the town's tax base and jobs is potentially very positive. You'll find all supporting materials enclosed. I wish to thank you and the Appeals Board for your consideration of my applications. Please let me know if there's any additional information I can provide. Sincerely: Frank O’Brien 2
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  5. 5. and up until 1976 was a school. See Tab 9 for supporting documentation. A move to a commercial site would have offered my small business a more professional image, but it was a luxury I couldn't afford. The costs associated with a commercial site are higher than the costs for the same area in a home. With a commercial site you're typically renting the space from an owner trying to recover their commercial loan interest costs, their commercial property taxes, and a fair return on their investment. Market rates, which are greatly depressed right now, can be as low as $1.00/SF/month. With a home office you're buying the space at the cost of your lower home mortgage interest and lower home property taxes. My costs are about $0.65/SF/month. I purchased the house at 12 Stedman St. in February 2009. Based on my experience with Lowell, and knowing the prior business uses of the house, I assumed it would be a similar process to have a home occupation in Chelmsford. After purchasing the house, I discovered I'd need a Special Permit for 195-7(B), and a Variance for 4 employees. The application was on my agenda, but other tasks seemed to take priority. This was bad planning and judgement on my part. I sincerely apologize to town officials for the considerable problems, in which my lack of action has resulted. On 9 October my small business held an open house (more at Issue 8c). It was after this event the town received complaints about my small business. Since the 26 October enforcement letter from the town, (Tab 2), my small business has been in compliance with Zoning Bylaw, Chapter 195-7(A), (more at Tab 5). If the town requires that I move my small business to a commercial site, I will then have too much house. I will have to likely sell my house and downsize to a smaller home. While paying for a commercial site, and too much house, it's unlikely I'll be able to afford to keep 2 engineers. Once my office and home expenses would be brought back into balance, which could take a year, the business could then hopefully again sustain 2 engineers. While the business would hopefully survive, it would be sustaining greater overhead, curtailing investment opportunities, and making its solvency more at risk. Considering the benefits for the town to nurture small businesses along into successful businesses, this would not seem to be in the long term interests of the town, as documented further below. My goal is for my business to move to a professional setting. I estimate 4. Future that if my business can stay on it's current growth curve, that this will be plans in the next 3 to 5 years. Once I move my business, my home will be fully residential use. 2
  6. 6. My home occupation employs 4 employees in a clean, hi-tech, service industry. My small business serves electrical medical device manufacturers, a key industry sector identified by the Commonwealth as a growth sector, one providing the types of jobs needed, and one targeted by the Commonwealth with grant and tax break type initiatives. 5. Social, The University of Massachusetts Lowell, has a Massachusetts Medical economic or Device Development (M2D2) Center with Commonwealth funding. My community small business helps these small entrepreneurial businesses with their needs which regulatory compliance (e.g. FDA, and similar international authorities) are served by and therefore provides a key component to market access and sales for the proposal these firms. Our customers include local startups like Breakaway Imaging in Littleton (now Medtronic), Novelis in Methuen (now Volcano in Billerica), Still River in Littleton, and Mobius Imaging in Ayers. Our customers also include larger medical device firms like Zoll in Chelmsford, Draeger in Andover, and Depuy JJ in Raynham. The residence is located on a busy feeder road located between Lowell and exit 34 of Route 495. Traffic is pretty heavy. While operating under 195-7(A) the home occupation has 2 household employees on premises. This has a net positive effect (less traffic) as 2 employees don't need to commute to their jobs, although it's not uncommon for the business owner to visit customers at their facilities as often as 1 day per week. Deliveries of mail and product samples might occur 1 to 2 times per month. This delivery load is in line with residential shopping and gift deliveries. Overall effect is negligible. 6. Traffic flow and safety, Should the business owner be granted a Special Permit to operate including under 195-7(B), the home occupation will have 1 additional non- parking and household employee on premises. Customers will be allowed to have loading meetings or witness testing on premises. Deliveries will remain the same. See Tab 6, Checklist item for 195-7(B)(4); Tab 7, Parking Lot View; and Tab 8, Photos. Overall effect is negligible. Should the business owner be granted a Variance to exceed the 1 non- household employee limit; allowing the home occupation to have up to 4 employees, including the household business owner, and with a customer visiting, parking for 5 cars would be needed. The garage and parking lot has ample parking for 5 cars, all more than 40 ft from the road. See Tab 6, Checklist item for 195-7(B)(4); Tab 7, Parking Lot View; and Tab 8, Photos. Overall effect is negligible. My home occupation, even if with up to 4 employees, is same light load 7. Adequacy on public utilities and services as any other typical household. The of utilities and electrical test laboratory is in the garage, supplied from the 100 A sub- 3
  7. 7. panel that was there when I purchased the house. The house has a 200 A main service panel, also in place when residence was other public purchased. The home occupation uses same Internet service as any services other typical residence. The house has 3 telephone lines, 1 for residence, 2 for home occupation. My home occupation, even if with up to 4 employees, can easily operate within a residential setting. The business doesn't pollute. The business doesn't make noise. See Tabs 5 and 6 for compliance remarks with respect to Zoning Bylaw, Chapter 195-7, home occupation. I have a lab in the garage, and offices over the garage. All other rooms are residential. The outside of the house remains untouched from it's residential look. Should the business owner be granted a Special Permit for Home 8a. Occupation in accordance with 195-7(B), the business owner will have Neighborhood a right to a three square foot business sign, in accordance with character and 195-7(B). The business owner is willing to waive his right to this social business sign, in consideration to his neighbors, and their desire to structures: maintain a pristine residential setting, and hold at bay the nearby commercial settings, to the south on Chelmsford Rd, and to the north Residential on upper Stedman St. In return the business owner is hoping the town setting and his neighbors will look favorably on his request for a dimensional Variance to allow up to 4 employees, including the household business owner. This would bring the present business in compliance with zoning regulations, with Special Permit and Variance. The house is owned by a single widower. Considering the business is in what appears from the outside to be a 4 bedroom house with a 2 car garage on an almost 1/2 acre lot, having up to 4 persons in the structure during the day, is consistent with other 4 bedroom houses in the neighborhood. My residence was foreclosed and empty for 2 years before I bought it. It's a 4 bedroom on a busy feeder road between a Route 495 exit and 8b. Lowell. The reason it was empty for 2 years is probably because no 2 Neighborhood to 3 child family is going to want this 4 bedroom house due to the character and proximity of the highway exit, and the volume of traffic. The large 4 social bedroom house 2 lots up from me, at 16 Stedman St, remains unsold structures: and has been on the market for 1 year. See Tab 9 for supporting documents. It would seem having an owner with a small business that Protection of blends into the residential setting, is a blessing for this neighborhood, Property as it's better than an abandoned house. Value Since purchasing the house, I've repaired, at considerable expense, the potholes in the driveway, and a leak in the roof. These were repairs 4
  8. 8. badly needed over the last 2 years, but repairs a bank forced into receivership of a foreclosed property had not made. My home occupation held an open-house on 9 October, from 3 to 5 pm. We had 10 customers attending for a short talk and tour. I had done some door and painting related renovations before the open- house. I put white lines on the driveway to help with parking. I placed 8c. temporary enter and exit business signs by my u-shaped driveway. This Neighborhood understandably invoked some concerns from some of my neighbors. I character and sincerely wish to extend every reasonable accommodation to my social neighbors in order to respect their need for a residential setting. I have structures: no plans for any similar event. I've since removed the white lines on my driveway, other than the 4 lines by the garage. All signs have been Neighborhood removed. Complaints If we neglect the 9 October open-house event, which was less disruptive than most birthday parties, my neighbors have had no complaints about my business. See Tab 8 for photos of the open house. My home occupation, even if with up to 4 employees on premises, does 9. Impacts on not pollute nor create waste any more than a typical household. The the natural business engages in clean, hi-tech type service work. Electrical safety environment and performance testing is sometimes conducted. No medical wastes or bio-hazardous materials are created. 10. Potential My home occupation, even if with up to 4 employees on premises, is fiscal impact, light user of town services in line with typical households. As including Chelmsford has a higher tax rate for commercial property, there's a impact on slight negative effect on tax base, but as my home occupation uses Town less than 25% of total floor space, the impact is minimal. Should the services, tax home occupation grow into a successful commercial entity, the future base and long term impact on the town's tax base and jobs is very positive. employment . 5
  9. 9. Checklist for Chelmsford Zoning Regulation, Chapter 195-7(A), Home Occupations Code Code Regulation Remarks Section Home occupations as of right. Businesses or professions incidental to and customarily associated with the principal residential use of 195-7(A) premises may be engaged in as an accessory use by a resident of that dwelling; provided, however, that all of the following conditions shall be satisfied: The occupation or profession shall be carried on wholly within the principal building or within a building Engineering consulting and testing 195-7(A)(1) or other structure accessory thereto business carried out in garage. See which has been in existence at least Tab 7. five years, without extension thereof. Not more than 25% of the combined floor area of the residence and any Business use of total floor space is 195-7(A)(2) qualified accessory structures shall less than 25%. See Tab 7. be used in the home occupation. Currently business owner (member of household) and his nephew (member of household) are employed by business. Business No person not a member of the also has 2 engineering staff 195-7(A)(3) household shall be employed in the members (non-household) home occupation. employed. Since 26 Oct 2009 town notice to comply with zoning 195-7(A), these 2 employees work off premises at their homes. The business owner performs all testing. Since 26 Oct 2009 town notice to The home occupation shall not 195-7(A)(4) comply with zoning 195-7(A) no serve clients, customers, pupils, customers are served on premises. 1
  10. 10. salespersons or the like on the premises. No signs. No use or exterior storage of materials. On 9 Oct 2009 white lines for 9 car parking spots were painted on driveway. There shall be no sign or exterior Neighbors expressed view that this display, no exterior storage of was inconsistent with residential materials and no other exterior character. The lines have been 195-7(A)(5) indication of the home occupation or removed except for 4 lines in front of other variation from the residential garage, which are less visible from character of the premises. neighbor houses. Remaining 4 lines are useful for prompting whether to park parallel or perpendicular to garage; with one being much more efficient than other. No use or storage of hazardous materials in quantities greater than No use or storage of hazardous 195-7(A)(6) associated with normal household materials. use shall be permitted. Occasional UPS type deliveries, Traffic generated shall not exceed perhaps 2 per month, not unlike 195-7(A)(7) volumes normally expected in a residential deliveries for shopping or residential neighborhood. gifts. 2
  11. 11. Checklist for Chelmsford Zoning Regulation, Chapter 195-7(B), Home Occupations by Special Permit Code Code Regulation Remarks Section Home occupations by special permit. Businesses or professions incidental to and customarily associated with the principal residential use of premises may be 195-7(B) engaged in as an accessory use by a resident of that dwelling upon the issuance of a special permit by the Board of Appeals; provided, however, that all of the following conditions shall be satisfied: Business carried out in garage, less All of the requirements of than 25% of total floor space, and 195-7(B)(1) Subsection A(1), (2) and (7). no appreciable effect on traffic. See Tab 5. In accordance with 195-7(A)(3), business employs 2 household members; the business owner and owner's nephew. Since 26 Oct 2009 town notice to comply with zoning 195-7(A), the business' 2 non-household employees work off premises at their homes. Not more than one person not a 195-7(B)(2) member of the household shall be If Special Permit granted, any 1 of employed in the home occupation. the 2 non-household employees would work on premises. If granted Variance for 4 employees, including business owner, owner willing to waive right to three square feet sign permitted by 195-7(B)(3). This would seem a reasonable compromise of what's important to 1
  12. 12. business owner, and what's important to his neighbors. An unlighted sign of not more than three square feet in area may be Currently no sign. permitted. The visibility of exterior storage of materials and other If Special Permit granted, owner exterior indications of the home 195-7(B)(3) willing to waive this right, as occupation, or other variation from consideration to neighbors looking the residential character of the to hold at bay any semblance of a premises, shall be minimized commercial look. through screening and other appropriate devices. Business may occasionally have a customer visit for meeting or witness testing. There would only be one customer visiting at a time as prototype products are proprietary Parking generated by the home and confidential. Customer visits occupation shall be accommodated would occur as often as 2 to 4 days 195-7(B)(4) off street, other than in a required per month. Garage and driveway front yard, and shall not occupy can easily accommodate 5 cars, more than 20% of the lot area. with all more than 40 ft from road. Driveway is unaltered from purchase, and is less than 20% of lot area. See Tab 7 for details. See Tab 8 for Photos. The use or storage of hazardous materials in quantities greater than associated with normal household No use or storage of hazardous 195-7(B)(5) use shall be subject to design materials. requirements to protect against discharge to the environment. 2
  13. 13. Office 328 sq. ft. 12 Stedman St.  Sq Ft Description sq' Buisness Personel Living Area 355 x Kitchen 143 x Dining 227 x Foyer 128 x Bath 1 104 x Bedroom 4 155 x Bedroom 3 183 x Bedroom 2 119 x Master Bed 175 x Upstairs Hall 110 x Bath 2 66 x Garage N/A Breezeway N/A Lab 328 x Up Office 256 x Total 2349 584 1765 20'-6 Percentage 24.9% 75.1% 2' 5'-2 35 4'-3 2.5' 2.5' 6'-4 Office 12' 13'-7 9'-7 15'-3.5 256 sq. ft. 27'-2 28 28 2'-1 2'-7 6'-8 6'-7 13'-4 13'-9 3'-4 3'-3.5 3'-9 5'-8 5'-8 5'-1 17'-1 21 35 6'-2 43 Up 12 Stedman St. 5'-8 2nd Floor In accordance with Massachusetts Building Code for One and Two Family Dwellings, 13'-3 13'-4 35 780 CMR, 7th ed, Section 5305, floor space includes only the portion of the room where ceiling height is at least five feet. This rule was used on the 2nd floor of house 10'-3 10' and garage, as ceiling is sloped in these rooms. See Tab 9 for code excerpt. 15'-1 N Office 4'-4 66 sq. ft.
  14. 14. Supporting Documentation for Facts • Lowell Home Occupation Permit (renewal) • 12 Stedman St. on market 2 years • 16 Stedman St., similar 4 bedroom home, on market now, and for last 1 year • Home occupation of prior owner of 12 Stedman St. • History of 12 Stedman St. as Golden Cove School • Massachusetts Building Code for One and Two Family Dwellings, 780 CMR, 7th ed, Section 5305, floor space for sloping ceilings