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Board denies request for Longmeadow Street property

By Natasha Clark

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW The Longmeadow Planning Board recently denied a request for an Approval Not Required (ANR) request which was filed by brothers Richard and David Kane, the owners of 1657 Longmeadow St.

The property in question was previously owned by the late Arthur Potito, and the current owners are seeking to turn the piece of land into two building lots.

"An ANR is a fast track to subdividing property," explained Walter Gunn, Chair of the Longmeadow Planning Board, adding that it is a means of subdividing property without going through the subdivision control laws.

After an ANR is filed to the Town Clerk with an application and payment, the Planning Board has 21 days to act on it.

"We can either endorse it or not endorse it. If we don't act on it, it's automatically approved by state law," Gunn explained.

According to Gunn and the Massachusetts and Rhode Island chapters of the American Planning Association, Massachusetts is the the only state that permits unlimited divisions of individual parcels along existing roads, which are not required to meet the review requirements applicable to new subdivisions.

"It causes massive developments all over the state," Gunn said.

In the case of the Kanes' property, Zoning By-laws require adequate frontage for each lot. It also requires that each falls on a public or private way that existed on a plan before the law was approved.

The Kanes' proposed Lot 2 had adequate frontage on Knox Street, a private way; but Gunn said Lot 1, on Longmeadow Street, did not. As a result of its non-conformance, the ANR plan request was denied.

"It had inadequate frontage. The required frontage for that area is 125 feet," explained Gunn. "[So], we can't approve any lot because all have to qualify."

Some neighbors to the property have voiced their concerns about the Kanes' plans.

Neighbor Elizabeth McEvoy told Reminder Publications that it's the subdivision most of them don't agree with.

"We're concerned about our neighborhood. We object to him subdividing and putting two houses where one belongs. We have no objection to them fixing up the house and selling it," she said. "It's not about my backyard, it's about our backyard."

Work began on the property in July without the proper permits and the town's Building Inspector told the property owners to officially file for a permit. A tree on the property was in the process of being cut down when it fell on the house, damaging the porch area and asbestos shingles.

When Reminder Publications spoke with Building Inspector Mark Denver at the time the tree fell, he confirmed that the Department of Environmental Protection was going to the site to assess the situation.

Elizabeth Steinhart of the DEP told Reminder Publications that the Kanes were not fined.

"They were directed to get a licensed contractor to dispose of damaged shingles and they did that," Steinhart added.

Gunn said the Kanes now have two options.

"Now [they have] a two step process," Gunn said. "[They have] to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for variance to waive the fact that [they have] less than 120 feet on Longmeadow Street, and [they] can also file for a subdivision. [Thet] would have to come in with a whole new plan. That goes through a public hearing process."

Phone messages left for both Richard and David Kane were not returned by deadline.