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Forum date set for zoning of corner lots

Jan. 2, 2013
By Chris Maza


LONGMEADOW — A public forum will take place on Jan. 9 for all of those who wish to weigh in on the zoning issues regarding corner lots.

The forum will take place in the Community House auditorium at 7 p.m.

Currently, under Long-meadow zoning bylaws, the rear yard on a corner lot is not the area located behind the house. The bylaw states that a rear yard is the open area extending from the back of the dwelling to the rear lot line. Rear lot lines are defined in the bylaws as the line that runs parallel to the street. In the case of corner lots, the owner must determine which line would be considered the rear lot line.

David Lavenburg, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), explained that the forum was in response to a citizen's petitioned warrant article at the Special Town Meeting in October to address restrictions on corner lots, which include limitations on fencing and out buildings.

At the Special Town Meeting, resident Dennis Gordan pushed for what he believed would change what constitutes a rear yard as well as setbacks, but the article was voted down after a lengthy debate.

"At the Special Town Meeting, there was a zoning bylaw amendment proposed that got defeated, but only because there needed to be more discussion," Lavenburg said. "A lot of people got up and spoke about concerns or issues they had, but a town meeting is not the proper place for that, which is why this forum has been scheduled."

Lavenburg explained that while he didn't know the exact format of the forum, he hoped it would be an opportunity for the ZBA and the Planning Board one of which could present a warrant article with proper zoning changes to gain a perspective on all of the issues faced by owners of corner lots

"What I hope to find out is what people want to have in their yard that they can't have now because of the way the zoning bylaws are currently written," he said, explaining that while Gordan's warrant article brought to light fencing issues, it was his understanding that other residents have faced other kinds of restrictions.

Lavenburg also stressed that whether for or against the bylaw changes, all opinions would be heard.

"If anyone has any objections or insight into the issue, we want to hear that as well," he said. "We're not doing this to pander to one group. This is not a one-sided forum. We want to get feedback from the entire town."

Based on the response the issue got at the Special Town Meeting, Lavenburg said he expected a good turnout.

"People had concerns and wanted to be heard. Hopefully they come out so they can be," he said.

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