By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Zoning Board of Appeals delivered the whole gamut of voting possibilities on seven peititions at its meetingon 9/6.
Denise DeCosta of 1 Welcome Street decided to withdraw her petition for a kennel license after it became obvious that the board was not inclined to vote in favor of the special permit, which is required to keep more than three dogs.
Attorney John Mathieu, representing Ms. DeCosta, read from state law, explaining to the board that he felt they could grant the permit.
The board, however, questioned whether they had the authority to grant the request for a personal kennel, not a professional breeding kennel for more than four dogs.
Building inspector Wayne Fostin told the board that they did not have the authority.
Ms. DeCosta has had up to 10 dogs on occasion, some of them more than 10 years old. She keeps Jack Russell Terriers, she told the board, and does not sell them for profit. She does show the dogs at dog shows and breeds to keep them.
Currently, she said, she has 10 dogs that she has been forced to send to friends because Fairhaven Animal Control Officer Kelly Massey informed Ms. DeCosta that she cannot keep more than three dogs.
Mr. Mathieu said the issue came up after “interaction” with the ACO, although he did not elaborate.
“These are all her personal dogs,” said Mr. Mathieu. “She doesn’t sell them or breed them.”
Ms. DeCosta told the board that she does run a pet-walking service, but those dogs do not go to her home. She has lived at the property since 1983.
Several neighbors attended the meeting to support the request.
Linda Therrien said she lives on an abutting property and Ms. DeCosta has always been very responsive to any issues with her dogs.
“I’m totally in favor of this,” said Ms. Therrien. “If I had an issue, she took care of it right away. She’s a very responsible dog owner.”
“I’ve never had an issue with them,” said Jo-Ann Aguiar, an abutter for 27 years. “I have no problem with it.”
“She’s a great dog owner,” agreed Crystal Aguiar.
After ascertaining that the special permit does not say with the property if Ms. DeCosta moves, the board discussed the wording of the town’s bylaw and the state law.
Mr. Mathieu insisted they had the authority to grant the permit, Mr. Fostin insisted that they did not.
ZBA chairperson Peter DeTerra asked Mr. Fostin if he would appeal the decision in court, against the ZBA.
Mr. Fostin said he would.
“I’ll have no choice in the matter,” he told the board.
When it became clear that the board would go with Mr. Fostin’s recommendation, Ms. DeCosta opted to withdraw the petition.
A withdrawn petition can be re-submitted at any time. If it had been voted down, she would have been forced to wait two years to re-submit.
“This is my family,” said Ms. DeCosta, clearly becoming emotional. “They’re all I have.”
She said she has three dogs at home with her now, the others have been placed with friends.
“They want to come home,” said Ms. DeCosta. “It’s tough for me and it’s tough for them. They’re my family.”
Ms. DeCosta and her attorney will draft language to add to the town’s bylaw clearly allowing personal kennels by special permit. Town Meeting will have to approve the change.
No one spoke against the petition.
In another matter, Jay Simmons of 14 Oxford Street received a variance to build an accessory structure over the 700 square foot maximum.
Mr. Simmons plans to build a garage, 30×48, with loft space, to house vehicles, lawnmowers and other equipment, and to have a year-round work space and storage.
Abutter Lee Miguel spoke against the variance, saying that Mr. Simmons had a lot of unregistered vehicles on his property.
The two have a public history of animosity as neighbors.
“I’m all for cleaning up his yard,” said Mr. Miguel. “He has numerous violations on his property.”
Mr. DeTerra stopped Mr. Miguel, saying they were only there to talk about the building.
Mr. Miguel said the proposed building was just too big. He said a couple of other neighbors were supposed to attend to speak against it, but they were sick and could not attend at the last minute.
“Some houses are not that big,” said Mr. Miguel, adding that it will ruin his view in his back yard. “It’s too big.”
He asked how high it would be and Mr. Simmons answered, not higher than the bylaw allows, which is 20 feet for an accessory structure.
“I could build up to six 20×35 sheds,” said Mr. Simmons. “I could build two or three.”
The measure passed unanimously.
The board also granted a setback variance to Wayne and Debra St. Pierre of 30 Green Street to rebuild and add to their porch. The new steps will reach to the edge of the sidewalk, requiring the variance. Mr. St. Pierre showed the board several pictures of other houses in the area
“So we’re just asking for the same courtesy these people have,” said Mr. St. Pierre.
Board member Joseph Borelli said he could not figure out how they would make the plans work, even after several minutes of discussion on the details. In the end, board members decided it would be Mr. Fostin’s problem to make sure the building end of it was done properly.
“I still don’t get the whole thing,” said Mr. Borelli, who voted for the variance. “I think you’re a magician.”
No abutters spoke on the measure.
In other business, the board:
• Granted permission to Eric and Barbara Trudeau of 49 Narragansett Boulevard to raise up to 15 chickens. A special permit is required for livestock raising on property less than five acres. The Trudeaus will also need a permit from the Board of Health.
• Denied a special permit request by Shawn Nocon for home occupation as a painter on 35 Middle St. Mr. Nocon did not attend the meeting, so he was denied. The board said the petition would exceed the 65-day maximum for deciding a petition if continued.
• Denied a request by V-Corp, Charity Stevens Lane, for a special permit to build a single family home, which is required for construction in the Nasketucket River Basin. No one attended to speak on behalf of the project, but abutter Mark Monteiro spoke against the project, saying it would cause more flooding on his property. The board said the petition would exceed the 65-day maximum for deciding a petition, so it could not be continued again.
• Continued a hearing for Oliveira Investment, 35 Welcome St., for a special permit to build a single family home, which is required for construction in the Nasketucket River Basin.