SOUTHBURY — The Zoning Board of Appeals elected officers, held two public hearings and denied a variance for a porch within the setback at its special meeting on Wednesday, January 5.

The board unanimously elected Mark Kane as chair and Sharon Scarlett as vice chair.

Susan McKenna, 86 Lower Fish Rock Rd., applied for a variance to permit a front porch access to the home within the setback.

The porch was already constructed before the meeting and public hearing. The variance was for only what currently exists.

Ms. McKenna said she installed the porch due to complications during construction. She said to install the foundation, the contractor had to dig deeper than anticipated and raised the foundation wall higher to avoid road runoff.

The higher foundation wall necessitated a porch rather than just the originally approved stairs for access.

“This was our final step,” she said. “[Building Official] Mark Cody had come to do the final inspection and told us we needed to have something more to get into the house.”

Member Carl Rosa asked if Ms. McKenna looked into other options to avoid the hardship.

Ms. McKenna said she originally wanted to just add stairs but Mr. Cody said, based on the height to enter the house, she would need either more fill so one stair could be installed or additional stairs and a platform to come up to code.

Ms. McKenna said her contractor did not recommend adding additional fill due to the grade of the property.

She added that most houses on Little Fish Rock Road are nonconforming.

Mr. Kane spoke in favor of the application.

“Yes, I do feel that there are many options that can correct this compliance issue,” he said. “The applicant did not describe any hardship.”

However, Mr. Kane said that the waiver would not adversely affect the district or area it was located.

The variances the Zoning Board of Appeals makes are based on whether “a literal enforcement of such [zoning] bylaws, ordinances or regulations would result in exceptional difficulty or unusual hardship” in regards to a specific property, not properties in general.

Hardships do not include financial troubles nor simple conveniences for property owners.

Mr. Rosa spoke in opposition, stating the hardship was created by the builder and there were options to avoid the hardship in question.

The board denied the application 4 to 2. Mr. Kane and member John Allen voted in favor of the variance. Mr. Rosa, Ms. Scarlett, members David Pittari and Kathy Fracassini voted against.

Calvary Fellowship, 354 Kettletown Rd., applied to add a coffee roasting project to the existing use of the property.

Pastor Mark Grasso represented the church during the public hearing.

“It’s home coffee bean roasting equipment,” Mr. Grasso said. “Because it’s home equipment, it’s small, it’s portable and it doesn’t need any special hook-ups.”

He said the church was trying to do the equivalent of a “cottage” coffee roasting company.

“We obviously can’t do that because we’re a church,” he said. “We expect this to be the size of a cottage business. We would say that when we’re ramped up we’d hopefully sell about 20 units a week.”

Mr. Grasso said a unit was a bag of coffee.

Mr. Grasso said no waste is produced from the roasting other than the chaff from the coffee bean itself.

“Coffee beans kind of have the same skin that peanuts have,” he said. “There’s nothing produced other than that. There’s no smoke, there’s no noise.”

Mr. Grasso said the church anticipated doing the roasting off hours and would only have four or five cars in the lot when roasting was taking place.

“We’d probably be doing it up to three days a week,” he said.

Mr. Grasso said, pending the special exception, the church would apply for a change of use with the Pomperaug Health District. With those two approvals, the church would then apply for a manufacturing license.

The board continued the hearing to give the town’s Planning Commission time to submit a referral for the additional use.

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