We must restore fairness

Oct. 9, 2012
Longmeadow citizens, particularly those living in houses on corner lots, should be aware that sections of the Zoning Bylaw dealing with restrictions on land use unique to corner lots will be on the warrant for the Oct. 23, Special Town Meeting. Generally, few corner lot dwellers are aware that they currently do not have "rear yard" rights similar to those given to non-corner homes. This translates, initially comically, into the inability to step directly from the back (relative to their street addresses) of their houses into their back yards! They must, instead, exit the rear of the house to one of their side yards, from which they can walk to the rear yard. This is because some paragraphs in the zoning bylaw may be interpreted (and are, on diagrams the town made available to me) as defining the area "behind" a corner house as a side yard. The comedy vanishes with the realization that it also means that the owner cannot put a swimming pool, fence over 4 feet high, or some other things, "behind" the house, but only in the small, most remote section of what any reasonable person would consider the "rear yard."

There is hope, however, because, according to the Planning Board meeting minutes for January 4, 2012, Building Commissioner Healy "shares Dr. Gordan's frustration with the wording and would welcome clarification." It is thus a matter of record that the current law is "not a model of clarity" to either Mr. Healy or the judge who wrote that quote in Guardione vs. Town of Longmeadow.

We now have the opportunity to restore some fairness, and hopefully clarity, to the bylaw, but it will be necessary for corner lot owners to show up and vote for changes we can live with on Oct. 23.

Dennis S. Gordan


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