Zba Hearing Package12-17-09

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Westlands resident's presentation to the ZBA 12/17/09

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Zba Hearing Package12-17-09

  1. 1. Westlands Neighborhood Response to 12 Steadman St. Special Permit Application Respectfully submitted to the Chelmsford Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting Date: 17 December, 2009
  2. 2. Summary  Not a case of a start-up that grew more quickly than anticipated  Business operated in Lowell from 2004 to 2009  12 Steadman purchased as a “facility” to support expansion  Business operated for 8 months before special permit application  Special permit process was initiated only because of discovery  Precedence setting  Realities of zone creep – potential impact to property values  Does not serve the greatest good  Significant challenges of monitoring and enforcing special permit 14 December 2009 2
  3. 3. Challenges of Monitoring and Enforcing By-Laws Interior sign pointed to “General Offices” in the house and “Engineering and Lab” in the Garage. Lines painted on driveway to accommodate customer parking. (Note: Some of these lines were Enter and Exit signs first appeared on covered over during week of 11/9/9. 10/9 for OBCM’s Open House for its customers. Although Mr. O’Brien was told to remove signage, they re- appeared on 10/13 in preparation for a customer visit. Exterior signage not removed until second visit from the Building Inspector on 11/2. 14 December 2009 3
  4. 4. Challenges of Self-Reporting From Special Permit O’Brien said in a phone interview this week that he Application Filed 11/16/09 acknowledges he is in violation of the zoning bylaw that allows 25 percent of the floor of the residence for business and one non-resident employee. He admitted that his company occupies a little less than half his floor space and he has three employees who don’t live at the Stedman Street address. Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer Chelmsford Independent 10/29/09 O'Brien told town officials he was using 35 to 40 percent of his residence for his business. Also under the local law, no person that isn't a member of the household can be employed in the home business. O'Brien has two paid employees who do not live at • Is the business occupying “just under 50%,” “35- the property, Cohen said. 40%,” or truly 25% of total floor space of the Rita Sevard/ staff writer Lowell Sun 10/29/09 residence now being reported? • Is Mr. O’Brien’s nephew (and employee) a long- term member of the household? He has requested up to 4 employees. 14 December 2009 4
  5. 5. Business Use of Floor Space OBCM Website description of their new “facility” at 12 Steadman St. Indicating. . .  “Facility” has 1,400 sf of laboratory and office space  Their growth has warranted this new facility  Bought 12 Steadman St. specifically as a “facility” that could support this growing business OBCM now says in its special permit application that they are only using 584 sf (24.9% of the residence) for business . . And yet . . . 14 December 2009 5
  6. 6. Business Use of Floor Space, cont’d . . .still utilizes the same equipment and needs the same number of employees that it had when it was reporting 1,400 sf usage. This “Bedroom” actually appears to be utilized as an office. While this “Office” appears to be a bathroom. How can we ensure the accuracy of these calculations? 14 December 2009 6
  7. 7. Business Use of Floor Space, cont’d OBCM website as of 12/14/09 700 sf of lab and office space puts the “facility” at 30% business use. . . So, what does this number represent? 14 December 2009 7
  8. 8. Compliance History OBCM had been doing business “Engineering consulting services office for four years Been doing business at home office since Apr 04” before applying for the HOP 14 December 2009 8
  9. 9. Compliance History, cont’d In a letter dated 20 October 2009 to Scott Hammond, Mr. O’Brien stated: “Up until Mar 2009, the business was in Lowell, where it was registered and had the proper Home Occupation Permit (HOP) from the city, no. HO-2008-0031.” Lowell HOP granted 4/1/08 Not working within Lowell’s bylaws by employing 4 people 2 Sep 2008 From the OBCM hires new Project Engineer; Staff up to four OBCM Due to a significant increase in new business, OBCM has hired it's fourth Website: employee. OBCM proudly announces the hiring of a new Engineering staff member, Pooja Soni. Pooja is responsible for testing, report writing, and generally helping our medical device manufacturing customers. . . 14 December 2009 9
  10. 10. Taking the Long View “Let the children guard, what the sires have won.”  What does this mean to us as a community in the 21st Century?  Is it still relevant?  What do we want to leave our children? Our grandchildren?  If we erode the integrity of our neighborhoods and consequently the quality of life – what do we have? 14 December 2009 10
  11. 11. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 14 December 2009 11
  12. 12. Timeline Early 2004 04/08 09/08 02/09 10/09/09 10/13/09 10/15/09 10/23/09 10/26 11/02 Nov. 11/16/09 OBCM opens Mr. O’Brien OBCM open Complaint OBCM again Mr. O’Brien business in purchases 12 house for filed with posts signs Complaint files Lowell Steadman St. business; Chelm Bldg (in direct filed re application for and OBCM lines painted Inspector re violation of commercial special permit OBCM files for Town issues sets up on- in driveway; OBCM 195-7); Bldg signage HOP in Lowell a cease and site test Enter and Exit operations Bldg Inspector Inspector posted on desist order facility, with signs posted visits OBCM notified house ZBA Hearing consultation on driveway and finds scheduled for services to violation of 12/17 Building Inspector visiting Section 195-7 tells Mr. O’Brien customers zoning bylaws to remove the OBCM sign affixed to his house (originally bypassed during previous inspection) “Engineering consulting services office Been doing business at home office since Apr 04” Seems to be business as usual at 12 Steadman until end of week of 11/9 OCM announces hiring 4th employee (in direct violation of HOP granted 04/01/08) 2 Sep 2008 From the OCM OBCM hires new Project Engineer; Staff up to four Website Due to a significant increase in new business, OBCM has hired it's fourth employee. OBCM proudly announces the hiring of a new Engineering staff member, Pooja Soni. Pooja is responsible for testing, report writing, and generally helping our medical device manufacturing customers. . . 14 December 2009 12
  13. 13. Business Certificate vs. HOP In a letter dated 20 October 2009 to Scott Hammond, Mr. O’Brien stated: “Up until Mar 2009, the business was in Lowell, where it was registered and had the proper Home Occupation Permit (HOP) from the city, no. HO-2008-0031.” However, Mr. O’Brien was in direct violation of the City of Lowell’s zoning bylaws clearly stipulated in this permit by employing 4 people. A B • Special Permit Application in Chelmsford (11/16/09) refers to OBCM having operated in Lowell from 2004 to 2008 with all of the necessary permits, including a renewed HOP. A • However, it was the Business Certificate (state requirement) NOT the HOP (municipal requirement), which addresses city zoning bylaws, that was renewed. B Note: Full size version of these documents are included in Mr. O’Brien’s Special Permit Application (submitted 11/16/09). 14 December 2009 13
  14. 14. Variances and Hardship If an owner seeking a variance bought the property with notice of the current zoning restrictions, the applicant cannot argue hardship based on actions they commit that result in self-induced hardship. From West’s Encyclopedia of American Law “I was aware that I was in violation,” said O’Brien. “The fact is, that when I bought the place, I went to Chelmsford Town Hall and asked for the laws and zoning map. I was quite aware of what I wanted to do and was quite aware of what the laws said. I’m very guilty of not getting a permit as quick as I should’ve.” Chloe Gotsis/ staff writer Chelmsford Independent 10/29/09 14 December 2009 14
  15. 15. Fire and Safety Standards  The testing equipment is being used in an area of 325 sq ft. Does this meet fire and safety standards?  Is 584 sq ft a legal limit for the number of employees (4) and types of equipment housed in this space?  What are the findings of the Chelmsford Fire Department Inspection? 14 December 2009 15
  16. 16. Available and Affordable Commercial Space in Chelmsford OBCM indicates This small sampling that they are using shows commercial a total of 584 sf: properties at • 256 sf – Offices reasonable rates for either the total sf • 328 sf - Lab needed or for moving the lab off-site 14 December 2009 16

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