Milford neighbors’ zoning appeal rejected

The single family house at 17 Maddox Ave., which has now been demolished.

The single family house at 17 Maddox Ave., which has now been demolished.

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MILFORD — The Zoning Board of Appeals has rejected an appeal seeking to overturn approval of a two-family house at 17 Maddox Ave.

The 4-1 vote took place at a special meeting Dec. 17 that was necessitated by Zoning Enforcement Officer Stephen Harris not pressing the record button for the board’s Dec. 8 Zoom meeting until the end of Attorney Max Case’s presentation. Case was representing two neighbors opposed to the project.

Case also has filed an appeal in Superior Court seeking to overturn the decision. The court case in unaffected by the ZBA decision.

In his court appeal, Case wrote, “The board had no basis upon which to approve coastal site plan review that would permit the construction of a two family house in a single family zone. As such, the decision of the board was contrary and inconsistent with Milford Zoning Regulations.”

The two family house that is being constructed, is intended to replace two individual single-family houses on the property that extends from Maddox Avenue to Scott Street, both dead end roads extending from East Broadway to the marsh.

In his presentation, Case said he was appealing the zoning permit signed by Land Use Director Joseph Griffith. Case said having a two family house in an R-5 zone is a non-conforming use. He said that in an April 22 email, Harris wrote to Griffith to state that this was an increase in a non-conforming use, which required a ZBA permit.

Case said non-conforming uses can continue, provided the zoning enforcement officer issues a certificate of zoning compliance. He said there is no certificate in the file, so the two family house could only be built if the board changed the zoning regulations, following a public hearing.

“There’s no provision in the zoning regulations for this provision to be sidestepped, to be eliminated, but that’s exactly what happened when Mr. Griffith sent the April 22 email to Mr. Harris,” said Case. In that email, Griffith wrote that this project continues the existing non-conforming use of two dwellings on the property.

Neighbors opposed

At the public hearing, eight people spoke in favor of the appeal, seven of whom live on the two streets.

Sheryl Lynch of 14 Maddox Ave. said that if this property is built, she is “concerned another two family house could be built next to me.”

Grace Bigs of 11 Maddox Ave. said, “We really want to keep it a nice small neighborhood and not have a huge building out of consistency with the neighborhood.”

In response, Harris said he was speaking on behalf of the department, saying the only issue is whether the zoning permit was lawfully issued. He said the PZB approved the site plan and based on that, “I have to issue that zoning permit if it’s an approved site plan.”

With regard to the email exchange between Griffith and himself, Harris said there are often discussions within the department among himself, Griffith and City Planner David Sulkis as to how to interpret zoning regulations. He said the decision of Griffith, as the department head, is final. The department’s position in this case is that this is not an expansion of non-conforming use.