Construction can continue on Bristol home over neighbor objections


An addition and remodel of a home on Summer Street can continue despite the appeal of an abutting neighbor who says the structure doesn't conform to the rest of the historic neighborhood, the Bristol Zoning Board ruled Monday.

The Zoning Board ruled Todd Roper, of 30 Union St., did not file his appeal of a building permit issued to a neighbor on adjoining Summer Street in time. Bristol Zoning laws require appeals to be filed within the 20 days of the permit being issued, or within 20 days of when the appellant knew or should have known about the project. Mr. Roper filed his appeal of the permit — issued in December — on March 10, well after reconstruction had begun on Mark Sitcoske's home at 19 Summer St.

Mr. Sitcoske is converting the former two-family home into a single-family structure, and adding a two-story, 16-foot addition on the back. Plans on the home began last spring, and continued through two separate Historic District Commission hearings — receiving approval during the second — and several inspections and revisions until a building permit was issued in December. Construction began immediately in December, Mr. Sitcoske said, and continued through the winter.

It wasn't until the second-story addition went up in February that neighbor Todd Roper noticed work had begun, he told the Zoning Board. Concerned that the structure was too large for the historic district, Mr. Roper filed an official appeal of the building permit. He said the home is too large for the lot it is on and lacks the required parking, among other zoning violations.

"It is not in conformity with the rest of the neighborhood," Mr. Roper said. "It's 100 percent bigger than the rest of the houses on Summer Street."

While Mr. Roper acknowledged he had viewed plans for the reconstruction as early as August 2013, he said he did not get the chance to view the entire file. He said he didn't file his appeal because he didn't know the permit had been issued. He expected the issue would go before the Zoning Board and he, along with other abutters within a 200-foot radius, would receive notice of the hearing.

That notice never came because the project was not subject to Zoning Board review, according to Zoning Enforcement Officer Edward Tanner. "This project met all setback and height restrictions," Mr. Tanner said. "I reviewed the project with the architect and the building inspector and determined no zoning relief was required."

Mr. Roper — whose backyard meets Mr. Sitcoske's at one corner — had to have noticed construction going on, according to Mr. Sticoske and attorney Anthony DeSisto. Construction vehicles, including large cement trucks, dump trucks "and about 40 Dumptsers" had been shuttling in and out of the neighborhood as early as October 2013 when demolition of the home began, Mr. Sitcoske testified Monday. Mr. Roper, however, said he would have no way to know the trucks were coming and going on Summer Street, a block away from Union Street.

"You've gotta look at this from a common sense standpoint," Mr. DeSisto told the Zoning Board. "He had knowledge of this project back in August. The appeal is late and untimely."

The Zoning Board agreed by a vote of 3-2.


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Carol Wardwell

This article adds further insult to injury by presenting such a slanted account of Monday night's Zoning Board hearing. Before painting an unflattering picture of Todd Roper and his motives, your reporter should have considered the fact that Mr. Roper was not permitted to tell his side of the story since the Zoning Board chose to deny his appeal. The issue of "timeliness," which provided the grounds for denial, was little more than a convenient way to make sure the details of this case were not brought to light.

Those of us in the Union Street neighborhood know better, but were not allowed a voice at the meeting. Through dozens of time-stamped photos we know precisely when work began that was visible to us at the back of the property, regardless of the date a building permit was issued. And we feel that there were a number of zoning issues crying out for a Zoning Board review. The very idea that anyone could put up a house of this size on a postage-stamp downtown lot without zoning variances or notice to abutters is shocking and could happen anywhere in Bristol.

Instead of being unfairly maligned in the local paper, Mr. Roper should be commended for his vigilance in making sure our town boards are applying the statutes evenly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | Report this
Carol Wardwell

Thank you, Patrick, for the revisions you made to your piece on the Summer Street construction project. My comments above were made in response to the article that was initially posted.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 | Report this

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