HAMPSTEAD – The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) continued to struggle with Susan Morgan’s special exception requests for a home occupation and an in-law apartment at her 9 Cortland Road residence.
At a previous hearing in March, the board discovered that both special exception requests were for “after the fact” situations: Morgan was already teaching her Mystic Dream Center classes out of her home and neighbors claimed buying and selling of goods routinely took place on the property. In addition, an in-law apartment was already built and occupied – but illegally – as it was rented to ineligible individuals.
In March, Morgan was allowed to ask for a continuance for two months and was directed to cease and desist from all the business activities taking place. As well, the apartment was to be empty but had to have permits drawn and electrical and plumbing checked and signed off on by the Town’s Code Enforcement Officer, Kris Emerson.
At the Thursday, May 1 ZBA meeting, Morgan admitted that Emerson had come and inspected and left a punch list of things that needed to be done for the in-law apartment such as hard wiring for smoke detectors and installation of a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlet, issues ZBA members couldn’t understand why the electrician she had employed hadn’t addressed.
The board discussion turned to the confusion over whether the house was originally a two-, three- or four-bedroom dwelling and whether there was an adequate and state-certified septic system in place. There is no septic system design paperwork in the folder and no evidence as to how many bedrooms the house had when built or as additions were constructed.
Board members were uncomfortable approving the special exception request for the in-law apartment with inspection issues still unresolved, and gave Morgan the option of letting the board vote on her request, which they indicated might well have a negative result, withdrawing her request, or seeking a continuance. If she opted to request a continuance, the board said it would be for just one month and would be the final continuance allowed.
Morgan chose to ask for the continuance to address the inspection issues for the in-law apartment. The board approved her request and her request will be on the June ZBA agenda.
As for the home occupation permit request, she decided to withdraw it but said she might return at another time to seek a home occupation permit for her Dream classes.
Several abutters attended the hearing, and while they said they had no problem with either the Dream classes as a home occupation or the in-law apartment for her father’s use, they were concerned that Morgan might not stick to the rules and would again rent the apartment to ineligible individuals.
They also said that while it had lessened, there remains continuing commercial activity on the property relative to Big John’s, Morgan’s boyfriend’s business. The abutters claimed that trailer-loads of goods come in and increased traffic comes and goes for the items Big John’s business has brought to the property.
The board told the abutters this is a Code Enforcement issue and they should contact Emerson.
Morgan became upset and said if the abutters’ complaints continued, she would seek legal assistance.
The ZBA accepted the withdrawal of her request for a home occupation permit and approved her continuance for the in-law apartment special exception. When she returns to the ZBA at the June 5 meeting, the board wants the entire punch list issues signed off on by Emerson and the septic system inspected and certified as adequate for the addition of the in-law apartment by both the state and Emerson.