After months of concessions, back and forth comments with the town engineering department, Dean Burhoe has permission to subdivide his lot at 334 Plainville Ave. and build an additional house.
Burhoe made the application to subdivide just months after being issued a cease and desist order for running his landscaping business out of the property where he lives. The town took action after numerous complaints from neighbors.
The initial application proposed building two houses in addition to Burhoe’s home on the long, narrow lot, but members of the Town Plan and Zoning Commission indicated they would not support it.
At each of several evenings of a public hearing on the matter, neighbors petitioned the commission to deny Burhoe’s application, citing concerns about well contamination, site lines, buffering and quality of life.
Burhoe, represented by attorney Daniel Kleinman of Levy & Droney, agreed to alter his application according to the suggestions of the commission and pared the plan down to a single additional house, proposed for a size of between 2,000 to 4,000 square feet.
Though the commission granted approval for the subdivision in a 4-2 vote with Chairman Phil Dunn and Commissioner Todd Litchfield opposing, it came with a condition on the house’s size: any house built must not exceed 2,400 square feet.
At issue was the character of the neighborhood, and besides Dunn and Litchfield, the commissioners were supportive.
“There have been a lot of concessions, a lot of things done to take this from a project I wasn’t enthused about initially to something I think works,” Don Doeg said.
Neighboring houses to Burhoe’s were built on long narrow lots and staggered to allow for privacy. Across the street is a row of 900-1,000 square-foot houses characteristic of the area. In the area, Burhoe’s home was assessed as having the greatest value.
“I would think the applicant would be very careful what he put in front of his own house to protect his own interests. I don’t think he’s going to put a mansion there as suggested,” Barbara Brenneman said.
But Dunn disagreed.
“At some point somebody took this parcel of land and carved it up into three very narrow but deep lots, perfectly suitable for single-family homes. I have an issue with the massing of a 4,000 square foot house in Mr. Burhoe’s front yard directly next to Mr. Grouten’s property…. I certainly think Mr. Grouten never expected a house of that scale – nearly double the size of their own – in their neighbor’s front yard,” he said.
Litchfield agreed, saying that a 4,000 square foot house would still be 30 percent larger than the largest nearby house next to Burhoe’s and therefore not in keeping with the neighborhood.
And while Brenneman said she was “not comfortable that we as a commission are talking right now about the size of someone’s personal property …he has right to subdivide within reasonable regulations…” she and others agreed that a 4,000 square foot house would not be in keeping with the neighborhood, as the regulations require.
A motion was made and approved to limit the proposed house to 2,400 square feet.