To avoid delay, new plans submitted for Potowomut home


Faced with having to wait until next April for the Zoning Board to consider plans to build a shoreline house in Potowomut, property owner David Cesario filed a new petition with the board Tuesday that has enabled him to get on the board’s Sept. 10 agenda. The meeting is at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

The new plan asks for only one of the three variances requested for the former proposal and slightly reduces the single-family home. In addition, there will be a fresh approach to outlining the proposal to the Zoning Board and the neighborhood, attorney John Shekarchi said Friday.

A Potowomut resident himself, Shekarchi said he would be appearing before the board, not Joseph Palombo, the contractor who represented Cesario at the Aug. 13 meeting. Shekarchi said a biologist, land use expert and real estate expert would also testify.

“Basically, we’re going to flip the house,” Shekarchi said, explaining that the garage, which had been located on the right side of the house as it faced the street, would be on the left. This would eliminate the need for a setback variance from a public right-of-way to the water from that side of the property. And by moving the house slightly closer to the street, Cesario has eliminated the need for a variance from the city’s coastal setback.

Shekarchi said the owner aims to be more sensitive to the community and that he would “reach out to anyone with issues” over the proposed development. He didn’t think, however, that there would be time for a neighborhood meeting prior to the board meeting.

Without the revisions and a new application, it appeared Cesario faced a long wait before he could proceed with construction, assuming he gained board approval.

The irony is that earlier this year, Cesario gained board approval for virtually an all-new house at 187 Charlotte Dr. A condition placed by the board called for the incorporation of two existing foundation walls when the building was demolished for the new structure.

That didn’t happen and, when the building department learned of the infraction, they issued a cease and desist order on the project. That left the hole for the foundation and an accompanying mound of dirt on the property.

Palombo told the board on Aug. 13 that the walls would not have been structurally sound, but the building plans were unchanged and that nothing had changed in terms of the relief sought.

Some board members – in particular, Richard Corley – didn’t buy it. Corley wanted to know why Palombo hadn’t sought approval to alter the approved project. Area residents felt they and the city had been “duped.” When Palombo said he would like to continue the petition, Corley moved for the board not to hear the matter until next April. His motion was approved 4-1.

Cesario could have revised plans so as not to require any variances, which would have enabled him to build as soon as he gained a building permit. Instead, he came in with an entirely new plan.

Asked if that wouldn’t further delay the plan, as Cesario would need to gain Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) approval, Shekarchi said he has already shown revised plans to CRMC and they have no issue with the modifications. Overall, the new plans call for a house of 5,009 square feet, a reduction of about 100 feet from what was initially approved.

Cesario is unlikely to get any argument from the neighbor to his east, where he is seeking board approval for a side lot variance. His neighbor will be Joseph Palombo, his contractor.

Provided the board approves the variances, Shekarchi said it is Palombo’s hope to start construction before the end of this year.


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