Court Sends CBI Warehouse Case Back To Zoning Board

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Chatham Bars Inn , Municipal Planning and Zoning , Zoning/land use

Chatham Bars Inn's warehouse at 45 Chatham Bars Ave. has been the subject of litigation over a 2017 zoning board of appeals ruling, and its use will be back before the board Dec. 6 following a remand from the Massachusetts Land Court. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – A court has ordered the town to consider revised plans for use of the warehouse building at 45 Chatham Bars Ave. owned by Chatham Bars Inn.

The dispute between the town, inn and neighbors over use of the 9,500-square-foot building, once a bowling alley but used as a warehouse since the 1970s, has dragged on for nearly three years. Two previous appeals were filed with the zoning board of appeals. The board denied a request to lift a cease and desist order issued by the building commissioner, who ruled that the warehouse use had been abandoned. Last year, the board rejected the inn's attempt to secure a special permit to use the building for storage, an office and workshop.

Although originally built in 1914 as a garage used in conjunction with the inn, the building had been sold and converted first to a bowling alley and then a warehouse, and was unused for several years before the inn bought the property – and its former chauffeur's quarters across the street – in 2015. Neighbors complained of early-morning and late-night noise from trucks after the inn began using the building as a transfer station for laundry.

CBI took the zoning board to court over the denials, and the new hearing, scheduled to be heard Dec. 6, is the result of a remand from the Massachusetts Land Court, which ordered the board to consider revised plans, revised findings and revised conditions on the inn's proposal.

The building is located in a residential district, where the warehouse use is not allowed. The building also does not meet road setback and coverage requirements, making it nonconforming.

The hearing begins at 4 p.m. at the annex.

At the same hearing, CBI will ask the ZBA for a dimensional variance and special permit for its former chauffeur's quarters building at 20 Chatham Bars Ave. The 17,523 lot is split between general business and residential zoning districts, and the inn is asking the board to allow a use that's permitted in the less restrictive business district, two three-bedroom apartments incidental to a commercial use, a professional office. The inn is seeking a dimensional variance to allow less than 51 percent of the building must to be used as commercial space, as required in the zoning bylaw, and to have two apartments with less than the required land area.

Last summer neighbors filed a complaint about work being done on the building to install a kitchen. CBI officials said the plan was to convert the building into a single-family home to house workers from the inn. Zoning board members declined to revoke the permit, but expressed concern about the use, which they saw more as a dormitory than a single-family home.

The new proposal will house the same number of people as the previous single-family plan had proposed, but in a different configuration and with an office as the primary commercial use.