Planning Board delays repairs to building struck by car

Jun 4, 2019

A prospective dog grooming business may not be able to go ahead with plans to repair a building damaged by a car crash after the Planning Board pushed back the decision at its June 3 meeting.

Number 603 Dartmouth street — formerly a hair salon called Family Hair Connection — was damaged after a car crashed into it last November.

The building was under agreement at the time.

New owner Pam Lasher’s daughter Sarah plans to open a dog grooming business in the space to make use of the current plumbing arrangements.

According to the Lashers, they would have only needed to make very minor renovations to the building if the car crash hadn’t thrown a wrench in their plans.

Insurance difficulties and other setbacks due to the accident held them up for months.

At the meeting, the board informed them that because the planned work — which includes repairs to the roof of the structure and the cement block wall — would alter more than 50 percent of the site, it triggered site plan review.

According to the town’s bylaws this would require the applicants to comply with a host of stringent standards, such as adding parking islands, landscaping, minimum setbacks, and more.

“We have a letter from the building commissioner saying that the alteration is greater than 50 percent, therefore it triggers site plan review,” said board member John Sousa.

“We’re 50 percent because the building was hit by a car,” said architect Kathryn Duff. “We would not be 50 percent if the building wasn’t hit by a car.”

She noted that she has to bring the building back up to code to make sure it’s safe.

Duff added that the owner “bought the building because it has the plumbing wall, and you could easily convert it without spending much money. Unfortunately, an accident happened.”

Sousa responded, “I’m not saying I don’t have sympathy for you. But the zoning enforcement office sent you here because you’re altering a building more than 50 percent.”

“I’m repairing a building,” Duff said.

After much back-and-forth the board decided to consult with town counsel to determine if they can approve the plans, and will make a decision at the next meeting on June 17.

Pam Lasher said that the building inspector told her that she wouldn’t have a problem getting planning board approval. 

The property is currently still empty. “It’s sitting in the middle of Bliss Corner looking like hell,” Lasher said.