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
Frank O'Brien 12 Stedman Steet
Chelmsford, MA, 01824, USA
978 970 0525, Cell: 617 462 3228
16 Nov 2009
Community Development Director
Chelmsford Board of Appeals
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
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
• 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,
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.
and up until 1976 was a school. See Tab 9 for supporting
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.
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.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell, has a Massachusetts Medical
Device Development (M2D2) Center with Commonwealth funding. My
small business helps these small entrepreneurial businesses with their
regulatory compliance (e.g. FDA, and similar international authorities)
are served by
and therefore provides a key component to market access and sales for
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
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-
panel that was there when I purchased the house. The house has a
200 A main service panel, also in place when residence was
purchased. The home occupation uses same Internet service as any
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
Occupation in accordance with 195-7(B), the business owner will have
a right to a three square foot business sign, in accordance with
195-7(B). The business owner is willing to waive his right to this
business sign, in consideration to his neighbors, and their desire to
maintain a pristine residential setting, and hold at bay the nearby
commercial settings, to the south on Chelmsford Rd, and to the north
on upper Stedman St. In return the business owner is hoping the town
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
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.
Since purchasing the house, I've repaired, at considerable expense, the
potholes in the driveway, and a leak in the roof. These were repairs
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
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
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.
My home occupation, even if with up to 4 employees on premises, is
light user of town services in line with typical households. As
Chelmsford has a higher tax rate for commercial property, there's a
slight negative effect on tax base, but as my home occupation uses
less than 25% of total floor space, the impact is minimal. Should the
home occupation grow into a successful commercial entity, the future
long term impact on the town's tax base and jobs is very positive.
Checklist for Chelmsford Zoning Regulation, Chapter
195-7(A), Home Occupations
Code Regulation Remarks
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
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
Not more than 25% of the combined
floor area of the residence and any Business use of total floor space is
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.
salespersons or the like on the
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
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
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
Checklist for Chelmsford Zoning Regulation, Chapter
195-7(B), Home Occupations by Special Permit
Code Regulation Remarks
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
Subsection A(1), (2) and (7). no appreciable effect on traffic. See
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
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
through screening and other
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
use shall be subject to design materials.
requirements to protect against
discharge to the environment.
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
Lab 328 x
Office 256 x
Total 2349 584 1765
20'-6 Percentage 24.9% 75.1%
256 sq. ft.
27'-2 28 28
6'-7 13'-4 13'-9
3'-4 3'-3.5 3'-9
12 Stedman St.
2nd Floor In accordance with Massachusetts Building Code for One and Two Family Dwellings,
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
and garage, as ceiling is sloped in these rooms. See Tab 9 for code excerpt.
66 sq. ft.
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