Newton's 'Undersized' Lot Debate Heading to Supreme Judicial Court

The Newton Board of Aldermen has also discussed the case, and how to amend the city's zoning ordinances with the recent court decision.

After the Appeals Court backed a decision prohibiting landowners with two small lots to build a second home, the Newton homeowners involved with the case are heading to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). 

Newton residents Bonnie and James Chansky and developer Ernest D. Rogers, of Lexington, filed an appeal with the SJC last month, according to a recent report in the Boston Globe. 

In their SJC appeal, the Chanskys said the Appeals Court ruling was incorrect and that it would have far-reaching impacts, the Globe reported. 

According to court documents, the Chanskys owned two small abutting lots on Bradford Road, one of which included their single-family home and the other a small garage. The Chanskys were looking to sell the second lot, the one with the garage, and build another home on the property. 

The city issued a permit to the Chansky's in 2009 for the construction of a single-family home on the garage lot, according to court documents. 

Citing concerns about noise, light, views, density in the neighborhood and lowering the value of their home, neighbors Maureen and Ronald Mauri appealed the building permit to the city's Zoning Board of Appeals. However, the board "narrowly affirmed" the city's decision to issue the permit, the court documents said.

The Mauris then headed to the Land Court for judgement on the permit, and the Land Court ruled in favor of the Mauris and revoked the building permit.

The Chanskys appealed the Land Court decision, but a Feb. 22, 2013 Appeals Court ruling affirms the Land Court's decision and agrees that a second home cannot be built on the Chanskys' garage lot. 

According to a report in YourTown Newton, developer Ernest D. Rogers, of Lexington, has a purchase and sale agreement with the Chanskys. He was planning to build a 2,600-square-foot home for himself on the Chanskys' garage lot. 

The Newton Board of Aldermen is currently taking up a related item in its Zoning & Planning Committee. The item calls to amend the city's zoning ordinances so that any properties already built or purchased that would be non-compliant under the recent Appeals Court ruling could be considered as "valid" properties.

That item was held 7-0 at the March 26 Zoning & Planning Committee meeting, as aldermen are waiting for additional information from the city's Law Department, according to meeting minutes.


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