By Mark Reynolds
Last week the Lloyd Zoning Board granted an area variance to Nicholas Corday Farms, a 34.9 acre parcel at 67 South Street, that will allow the applicant to construct a 100ft x 50ft outbuilding in the front yard of the property. This variance runs counter to town code, Sec. 100-16 A (1), which states that “no accessory building shall be located within the front yard.”
The minutes of the December 8 ZBA meeting, reflect that the board’s land use attorney Paul Van Cott advised the board, “that in relation to alternatives, their objective [the Cordays] of a farm use would be relevant to that consideration. As that points them into a certain location of where to put the building, it is relevant.”
ZBA chairman John Litts, however, said because the property is not yet an operational farm, the board cannot consider this in their deliberations of whether or not to grant a variance, but should, instead, treat this application as, “a regular outbuilding in a regular situation.” The minutes of December 8 confirm what Litts said, “Right now they are not an agricultural operation, they will be. The board cannot treat them as if they were, as it prevents anyone from saying they are a farm and placing a building wherever they want.”
The ZBA members, including Litts, did not follow this point, but instead, proceeded to discuss this application in the context of the property as a farm.
At their January 12th meeting, Litts acknowledged that previously he may not have properly voiced his reasoning, “but we can’t afford them [applicant] the same status as a farm [as] a farm plays by a different set of rules.”
At their January meeting, attorney Van Cott insisted that because the property is not being used for agriculture, a variance is needed for the structure to be built in the front yard. He added that the board has to consider the applicant’s, “purpose for the project; why they say they need it in the front yard. When they look at the purpose that the applicant has indicated, they eventually want to farm the rest of their land. So to that extent it’s relevant to the board’s review and that’s the difference.”
When questioned, Litts offered additional clarification.
“My intention is that to say we couldn’t treat it as if it were a farm [but] I misspoke when I said we couldn’t talk about it at all,’ he said.
Litts pointed out a key condition that the ZBA attached to the variance: the applicant must maintain and preserve sufficient vegetation between the outbuilding, South Street and the adjoining properties that will sufficiently screen the building from view.
On January 12 the board voted unanimously to allow the building to be built in the front yard. Section 2 of the approval resolution, which was written by Van Cott, shows that he did consider the property as a farm, contrary to its actual status.
In the resolution, Van Cott wrote that “The benefits sought by the Applicant from the project cannot be achieved in any feasible way without the requested variance due to the availability of prime farmland with prime and important agricultural soils on the actively farmed property...Placement [of the building] on prime farmlands would impair the agricultural use and value of the parcel. The proposed location is on a rocky outcrop that is not arable and therefore is not suitable for agricultural growth. As a result, any other location on the parcel would reduce the agricultural benefit of the actively farmed land.”
Van Cott’s resolution incorrectly states that the property is an “actively farmed land,” and shows that when the ZBA approved the waiver they were agreeing with the attorney’s assertion that the property is a farm.