Attorney Tom Reidy leans in to his Hail Mary presentation to ZBA last night
While probably good for increasing his billable hours the formal appeal of the Building Commissioner -- hand delivered to the Town Clerk at the last minute -- came back to bite his client, Clifford Laraway, in the butt at the Zoning Board of Appeals Special Permit hearing last night.
Chair Mark Parent immediately told attorney Tom Reidy, "You put us in an awkward position here because of the appeal you filed. We need to act on it by December 3rd but now we can't address those circumstances here tonight."
To which attorney Reidy responded, "What happened in the past is the past. The appeal may be withdrawn on December 3rd. We wish to move forward."
Of course what attorney Reidy was angling for is having the ZBA issue the Special Permit declaring the structure a two family unit (8 maximum tenants) which would then be used as evidence at the December 3rd hearing to overturn the Building Commissioner's declaration that the house has too many tenants.
Another major mistake made by the petitioners was not appeasing Amherst Fire Department, who also found the building to be more than a simple two family house, deeming it a "rooming house" and as a result requires sprinklers.
But ZBA member Tom Ehrgood said he was "impressed at the changes" he saw on their site visit the previous day and did not see why the regular Special Permit hearing "could not continue".
Planning Department senior planner Jeff Bagg responded "Deciding on a Special Permit tonight would be premature. So many elements relate to the appeal."
Building Commissioner Rob Morra agreed, "At the last hearing the board gave the petitioner clear directives to figure out the occupancy issue. You need to address the appeal first." And Mr Morra reminded the board of the Fire Department's clearly stated requirement for a sprinkler system.
Neighbor Joan Burgess told the board during public comment that she "Appreciated the changes, however the management plan required should be updated to show specifically what they are doing for better management. It has to be quantifiable."
The board gave the petitioners a directive to bring back a parking and management plan that convinces them no more than eight tenants will occupy the building and to work out an agreement with Amherst Fire Department.
382 North Pleasant Street
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The Special Permit hearing was continued to December 3rd at 7:00 PM while the appeal of the Building Commissioner's ruling will be heard at 6:30 PM.