ZBA overrules building chief's denial of Larry's Place Wednesday, February 13, 2008
D. Craig MacCormack 508-626-4429 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM - SMOC's proposed home for 18 homeless veterans moved a step closer to reality last night when the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously overturned Building Commissioner Michael Foley's denial of the plan.

Larry's Place could still face another hurdle, though, if the zoning board's recommendation to send the plan to the Planning Board for limited site plan review is upheld.

Marisa Pizzi, lawyer for South Middlesex Opportunity Council, said last night she will review the board's decision and determine whether to appeal at that time.

"We're pleased the ZBA has found that this project is in compliance with the Dover Amendment," said Pizzi. "It's obvious they gave it thoughtful consideration."

Although the voting members of the board were unanimous in their decision, some non-voting members questioned whether Foley's ruling should be reversed.

"The building commissioner said it didn't fit the bill (of the Dover Amendment, which limits the amount of local review for educational and religious projects), so I have to go with what he says," said associate member Tom Levenson during the 20-minute discussion before the vote.

"The fact that they're veterans shouldn't come into effect," he said.

Board member Steve Meltzer, who backed the appeal, said it's OK for the board to overturn Foley's ruling.

"We have to take the facts that are given to us," he said.

Board member Susan Craighead, one of the three members who voted on the appeal, said the zoning board can't control what another government body does.

"There's a reason for site plan review and it's not our fault if (the Planning Board) goes beyond (the limited scope allowed under Dover)," she said. "On its face, there's something there for them to review."

In other news, board members closed a pair of high-profile cases and will begin deliberations on them at their next meeting Feb. 26.

The board will consider allowing Staples Inc. a height variance to erect a wind turbine that is about triple the town's 80-foot limit and review an appeal by several neighbors of Sage House, SMOC's program for recovering addicts and their families at 517 Winter St.

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