, Gloucester, MA

May 2, 2013

Brick house proposal hits brick wall

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — The owner of a property on Granite Street has hit a brick wall as a neighbor has filed for zoning relief.

Ron Roma, who also owns what some have nicknamed the “Brick House” at 121 Granite St. has proposed a similar project at 129 and 133R Granite St. His plans call for demolition of buildings on the combined lot and construction of a 12,000-foot single-family brick home.

Although the plans were approved by the Conservation Commission and other town boards, under state law anyone can file for zoning relief within 30 days of when any permits were issued.

The neighbor’s filing claims town Building Inspector Paul Orlando had improperly issued permits for the demolition permits of a shed, cottage, and house that are currently on the property.

The neighbor, Sarah Kent of 133 Granite St., is being represented by Boston-based law firm Tarlow, Breed, Hart and Rodgers.

The appeal states Roma’s property has not gone through the proper site plan review process and the permits were issued before the required 60 days had passed since Roma presented his last proposal on March 20.

In addition, the document states Roma’s planned demolition meets the town guidelines for a “land-disturbing activity.”

The demolition permits for the house, cottage and shed were issued April 11. The appeal was filed later that same day after Orlando had notified Kent’s husband of the permit, the appeal reads.

Orlando said Wednesday that no site plan review was needed for the demolition permits.

Meanwhile, Roma’s public hearing with the Planning Board has been extended until its meeting on May 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

The town’s planning consultant, Carolyn Britt, said it was continued for a variety of reasons.

Board member Cameron Smith said as a part of the board’s meeting tonight, members will ensure they have all the most up-to-date filings, plans, and other administrative procedures for the public hearing next week. He also said the board still has questions about water runoff.

“It’s a head scratcher,” said Board of Appeals Chairman John Reese.

Reese said he was unsure what the outcome might be if the Board of Appeals favored Kent’s appeal.

He said that one option might be to revoke the permit — if the board agrees with the appeal.

However, that could mean the house, shed, and cottage should all be restored to the condition they were in before the permits were issued, Reese said.

Roma had previously allowed the Rockport Fire Department to use the house in training exercises, which included filling the house with smoke and fire so firefighters could practice rescue drills.

The Board of Appeals is set to take up the issue at its May 28 meeting at Rockport Public Library, slated for 7:30 p.m.

Roma’s counsel, Robert L. Visnick of Rockport, could not be reached for comment on the story.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3455 or