Conservation Commission Votes Against Variance in Conservation Overlay District

The Conservation Commission voted 5-0 to recommend the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) not grant a variance to allow the subdivision of a lot without required frontage and exemption from the Conservation Overlay District (COD) provision.

The Commission included in the motion that the recommendation is not in prejudice of considering a conditional use permit for the subdivision.

“To me it’s a matter of principle. We have an ordinance and we have provisions in the ordinance that allow us to deal with exceptional burdens we’re placing on someone,” Commissioner Mike Speltz said. “Why isn’t that sufficient?”

“I understand we’re adjusting lot lines, but there are no new lots being created,” said Joseph Maynard of Benchmark Engineering, Inc. in Salem, representing Jack Szemplinski of 62 Rear Adams Road. “Could you just grant relief for the existing house lot and once there is more buildable land, we can come back for a conditional use permit?”

The applicant requested both the variance and exemption together with one application to the Zoning Board, making it difficult for the board to grant the variance to allow the subdivision of properties at 62 Rear Adams Road, and 86 and 88 Adams Road, while holding off on a judgment regarding exemption from the COD, to which the Conservation Commission raised concern.

Ultimately, the Zoning Board sent Maynard back to the Conservation Commission for a recommendation.

Maynard said Szemplinski reached an agreement with 86 and 88 Adams Road owner Harold Kicza that is time sensitive, and he needs the first variance for the subdivision to be approved to move on to the Planning Board.

“I’m still of the opinion that the way it exists right now is fine, but talking about in the future, if someone wants to expand the house in the buffer they should have to come and request a conditional use permit for that,” Commission Vice Chair Eugene Harrington said.

The COD was established in Londonderry to protect water sources and open space, according to Speltz, who noted at the Zoning Board meeting earlier this month, “with a conditional use permit, we can protect the public’s interest by protecting the wetlands.”

Maynard argued the three lots existed before the COD and the request is merely a lot line adjustment. He additionally noted the existing home on the property is grandfathered in – it was in place before the COD was established.

 Any time they want to do any addition on the home they would have to apply for a variance, he said.

The Zoning Board will consider the Conservation Commission’s recommendation at its Nov. 19 public hearing for the variance and exemption from the COD.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter