Pittsfield ZBA Postpones Permits For Poultry, Porch & Poster

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Jenny Greenfeld asked he board for a continuance on the special permit request to raise four chickens on her property.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Just three months after denying a permit for a resident to raise chickens in their back yards, the Zoning Board of Appeals will rule on yet another.

Jenny Greenfeld and Bob Lezberg have applied for a special permit to raise four chickens on their Caratina Drive property. The permit was expected to go in front of the ZBA on Wednesday, but Greenfeld asked and received a continuance until the June 15 meeting.

Wednesday's meeting featured multiple continuances, partly because there were only four members present — meaning the special permit or variance approval need a unanimous vote.

This was particularly important for the chickens permit because the board has previously been divided on the issue. That previous permit fell one short of the needed votes.

Also continued on Wednesday was an application from Pauline Zervas to reconstruct a porch in the rear of her Benedict Road Property property. The issue with that is the porch would be taller than the previous — providing exits on the second floor — while still being only 6.5 feet away from the property line.

Ignacio Matos, whose mother lives next door to Zervas, said the proposed porch poses a privacy concern. The second floor porches would overlook the next-door property.

"It is way close. There is no space in between," he said.

Matos said he is hoping for a compromise with the size of the structure. The side of the three-family building next to his mother's house only houses one family, so a top floor egress is unneeded — therefore so is the upper porch on that side, Matos said.

"We're not looking to completely deny them building anything," Matos said, saying he hopes for a compromise.

John Goerlach, who is building the porch for Zervas, said the upper porch is needed on one side to conform with building codes regarding egress. And the design is to turn windows on the second floor into doors with the porch providing stairs out of the building.

The increased size of the porch triggers a lot coverage issue because it exceeds the 25 percent coverage allowed in the zone. The size is now 32 percent, which is about 3 percent bigger than the previous porch covered.

"The building lots are very small out there," Nate Joyner, permitting coordinator, said of the neighbors who have similar structures on their similarly sized lots.

The length in the rear wasn't really the issue for Matos, who was mostly concerned with the height. He proposed having it be only a one-level porch.

But, the exit needs to be provided for one side so not extending the porch all the way across the building wouldn't be aesthetically pleasing, according to Zervas. Goerlach suggested installing a lattice that would reduce visibility and privacy issues on the floor.

"I would be willing to screen it," Zervas said. "I'd be willing to put a privacy fence or whatever is needed."

With both sides willing to work toward a compromise, the board continued the matter in hopes they could reach one on their own.

Builder John Goerlach and Ignacio Matos discuss the plans for the new porch at Pauline Zervas home on Benedict Road.

"This could probably be worked out," said member Esther Bolen.

The third item was a sign permit for 77 East St. That was postponed because member Miriam Maduro said she had a conflict, so there wouldn't be a quorum.

However, the board was able to approve the Pittsfield YMCA's request to add new awning and signs on North Street.

The YMCA needed a permit because the sign ordinance requires awnings to be 10-feet high while their proposal was for 8-feet 7-inches. Moving it up to 10 feet would provide less shade and not fit with the looks of the building, according to Tim Harrigan, who represented the applicant.

Also approved on Wednesday was Joseph and Cynthia Rodger's request to replace a storage shed with a garage on their Waubeek Road property.

The Rodgers had already torn down the storage shed but the new garage wouldn't fit the required setbacks nor the lot coverage requirement.

But, the immediate neighbors attended the meeting in support of their request, saying a garage is perfectly OK with them and is actually preferred.

"This is a 50-foot wide building lot, clearly there is no way to meet the 35 fott setback anyway," said attorney Anthony Doyle, representing the Rodgers.

Overall, the proposed garage won't be any more out of conformity than the storage shed, the board concluded.

Tags: chickens,   special permit,   ZBA,   zoning,   


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