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ZBA Should Uphold Building Commissioner In Degen Dispute

[Ed. Note: Local Attorney Robert L. Collins submitted the following unsolicited letter to the Zoning Board of Appeals in support of Josh Degen’s continued business use of his property under Section7 of Chapter 40A of the General Laws. The letter is a matter of public record. See story page one.]
Dear Board Members:
     I have been following the controversies asserted in the appeal before the Board [Zoning Board of Appeals], and wish to share some thoughts and observations. I have not been hired by Josh Degen, nor has he requested that I write this letter.
I believe that the Building Commissioner was correct in his determination for the following reasons:
     There have been two building permits issued for this property since, Josh has owned it. Section 7 of Chapter 40A protects both structures and uses from enforcement actions when six years have elapsed from the issuance of a building permit. I thus believe that the Building Commissioner was correct in his position both because the use falls within the confines of what is allowed in the RA zone, and since the statute of limitations provided by Section 7 has tolled.
     Thus, even if the Building Commissioner was incorrect in his interpretation, once the statutory period has lapsed (as it has in this case), the use becomes a valid nonconforming use, and enjoys the protections afforded by both Section 6 of Chapter 40A and our bylaw.
     The use of this property as it is currently used has gone on for close to three decades. That use falls squarely within what is allowed in the Residential/ Agricultural (RA) zone as a valid home occupation. The storage of vehicles and equipment is a valid accessory use to the business being lawfully conducted as a home occupation.
     It is worth pointing out that we have several other examples in Groton of similar uses being conducted as home occupations in the RA zone.
     The Board should uphold the Building Commissioner's determination.
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