Based on Walter Reynolds’ September 14 letter (“We should pay attention to the Jim Angelos among us”), I recently made an incorrect, albeit inconsequential, assumption, and my purpose, intent, and message do not are unclear. Let me try again.
My incorrect assumption: When reading Jim Angelo’s hardship letter, I assumed he was focusing on the Winnapaug golf course issue. My excuses. Regardless, as I will outline below, my points on the hardships and other considerations on zoning decisions are valid whether discussing Winnapaug Golf, Venice Restaurant, or the extension of your neighbour’s terrace.
My reaction to Jim Angelo’s letter was and remains “yes, and….” I in no way intended to “sting” Angelo. My correction to his letter is to clarify that hardship is only one of the five elements of a zoning decision and is on par with the other four, not superior to them (as suggested by a literal reading of Angelo’s letter). For “cocktail conversation” purposes, we agree.
For the purposes of arguing, for or against, any proposal for waiver, one will be most successful if that case is presented in such a way as to include that: 1. the actions of the proponent did not give rise to the need for the waiver, 2. that the intention and need of the proposer is for something beyond financial gain/transaction, 3. that the waiver, if granted, will not be detrimental to the city or neighbors, 4. that the remedy sought is the least remedy necessary; and 5. that if the difficulties are not resolved, the owner will be deprived of reasonable enjoyment of the property.
I served on the zoning board from 2018 to 2022. Four years with at least 12 meetings per year multiplied by three decisions per night, that’s 144 decisions. As a full member, I wrote and recorded about a quarter of those decisions. By state law and despite any memories one might have of “the western way”, all 144s individually have the five elements listed above.
If you wish to argue for or against a proposal and you do so within the framework of the five elements structure, you facilitate communication with the Zoning Board and enhance the clarity of your point of view in any appeal. If you don’t, you create work and confusion for others, and your argument may get lost in that confusion. It’s a reading list. Use it. This can be crucial for any future call.
Even if Saturday’s meeting isn’t about a particular proposal, council will need to be aware of the factors. Argue your point of view on the zoning change by using them. You will be more efficient.
Finally, Walter Reynolds correctly says that Winn Properties’ presentation of their intent avoids variances, in part by changing the rules on dimensional variances. That said, fueled by petitions and social media, many believe the presentation, and any future proposals, call for a five-story hotel. Use the playlist to structure your arguments, for or against, any order (September 17) or actual proposal (a future date unknown).