Access to homes complicates Gulf Street subdivision

Right-of-way widths are complicating an application for a four-lot subdivision at 622 Gulf Street, prompting the Planning and Zoning Board to hold open the public hearing until its July 17 meeting.

Attorney Kevin Curseaden made the presentation before the board at its June 19 meeting on behalf of George H. Ward, trustee, and his successors, who own the 3.9-acre property in the R-18 zone.

The proposal needs a coastal area management site plan review and approval, subdivision approval, along with a waiver for the width of the accessways.

There are three houses on the property: A 4,325-square-foot house at 622 Gulf Street from 1870, a 3,800-square-foot house at 624 Gulf Street built in 1935, and a 2,200-square-foot house at 626 Gulf Street, also built in 1935.

Curseaden said these houses are accessed by either rights of way or easements across neighboring properties, which date back more than a century. The accessways are 10 to 15 feet wide.

The three houses were constructed prior to the city having zoning regulations. Ward is requesting the subdivision to allow him to construct two additional houses on the property.

The house at 622 Gulf Street has an accessway to the street across the property at 646 Gulf Street. The houses at 624 and 626, share a common accessway to Old Field Lane across the properties at 590, 596, 606, and 612 Gulf Street.

Curseaden presented letters in support of the project from 10 property owners, four on Eveningside Drive, four on Ranch Road, and two on Gulf Street.

He said the fire marshal had a concern regarding access for Lot 4 off Old Field Lane. Following changes to the plans, the fire marshal approved the project, which also received police department approval, he said.

Curseaden said the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) granted a variance to allow the houses at 624 and 626 to share one lot. He said the P&Z is the only board that can grant a waiver for the subdivision regulations.

Ward is requesting a waiver to allow the accessway to Old Field Lane to remain at 10 to 12 feet. He said the neighbors wanted to maintain this as a 12-foot wide rural country road, as opposed to having 25 feet of width, “which is required by the subdivision regulations,” said Curseaden.

“The neighborhood grew up around this parcel, which was never subdivided,” said Curseaden. “The hardship arises in that it is a pre-existing, non-conforming lot that existed long before zoning regulations. There really is no other access.”

Curseaden said Ward is legally entitled to the subdivision, regardless of subdivision regulations. The attorney said he spoke with a title company and the title attorney said it would insure titles to these proposed lots.

Matthew Ducsay, professional engineer from Milone & MacBroom, said the existing Lot 1 at 622 Gulf Street is a frontage lot, as would be Lot 2, a proposed lot between 622 Gulf Street, and the neighboring property at 646. A single-family home is proposed for Lot 2 and would use the same accessway as Lot 1.

Ducsay said on Lot 3, the existing property at 624 and 626, has a ZBA variance to allow for two homes to share one lot. As a rear lot, it is one acre in size, as required by the subdivision regulations. Access would continue to be from Old Field Lane.

The proposed Lot 4 would also be a rear lot, larger than one acre. Access would be from an extension to the existing right of way to Old Field Lane, but across Ward’s property. A single-family house could also be constructed on this property.

Ducsay said he worked out an agreement with the fire department that this driveway would be 16 feet wide and constructed with concrete reinforced grass pavers to allow for emergency access. This right of way across Lots 2 and 4 would be deed restricted to insure it is accessible in all seasons. In addition, Lots 2 and 4 would have individual rain gardens to collect water from roof leaders.

Seven people commented on the application with five people in favor, and two had some concerns.

Joseph Blichfeldt of 650 Gulf Street said he was in favor of the subdivision, saying maintains the character of the area. Also speaking in favor was Michael Sabo of 21 Olive Street, who said he has known Ward for 20 years.

Doryann Mele of 612 Gulf Street said the access from the narrow private lane is her only access, and she was concerned about how the traffic from the additional house would affect her property. She said she did not have enough information to decide if she was for or against the project.

Attorney Thomas Lynch, representing Francis and Mona Luperella of 646 Gulf Street, said he had prepared to make a presentation in opposition to the subdivision, but requested that the board hold open the public hearing to give him time to meet with Ward to discuss his client’s concerns. Lynch said access the accessway is on his client’s property, and derives from a 1921 easement from 1921.

“He [Luperella] and I have a question about the legality of having two homes accessed by this right of way,” said Lynch, saying they are concerned about traffic flow and want to discuss a reconfiguration of the easement.

In response, Curseaden said there would not be an overburdening easement because this would not be a dramatic change in use.

City Planner David B. Sulkis said the multiple houses on the current parcel are acceptable because the property predates zoning regulations. However, Sulkis said since the subdivision is being proposed for 2018, it has to meet the current subdivision regulations. He said each of the rear lots would need a 25-foot accessway.

“Lots 3 and 4 do not meet the subdivision regulations. To create rear lots you need to have a 25 foot wide accessway to the street,” said Sulkis. “That 25-foot-wide accessway gives you the frontage on the street that makes this a legal lot.”

In response, Curseaden said the proposed lots are not landlocked because they have deeded rights of way. He said nothing in the regulations says 25 feet of frontage is needed, referring to the board’s subdivision regulations, Section 3.2.10, which states that rear lots “shall be provided with a private accessway to a public street, the width of which shall be at least 25 feet for residential uses.”