Examples of Merrigan bending the rules on applications

In the recent public hearing of the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) regarding the zone change at 64 South Elm Street, there were some public comments about M&L bending the rules on his past applications. Attorney Paul Smith expressed faux outrage at this, complaining that specifics weren’t listed. So, here is a list of some times when M&L tried to bend the rules.

  • Property at Rachel Road and South Elm Street
    • M&L applied for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals on a ridiculous theory of a hardship essentially due to the property facing the wrong road. This was approved by their cronies on ZBA, and then that decision was overturned by the Superior Court on appeal. The court found that M&L had no hardship, as is obvious to anybody who reads the transcript. This one is particularly troubling, because it makes me question how many other similar cases there are in town where they built more houses than should have been allowed, simply because neighbors didn’t know they had grounds to appeal a wrongly-issued variance.
  • Property at 64 South Elm Street (proposal 1):
    • M&L had their previous site plan approval by the PZC overturned on appeal because he placed the public hearing sign 26 feet from the road when 10 feet was required by the zoning regulations. The zone change approval was also overturned, because that regulation required the sign to be conspicuous and the court determined that it was not.
    • Representatives from M&L engaged in ex parte communications with PZC chair Alan Gannuscio before a public hearing. This fault really falls more on Gannuscio, but they should have known better too.
    • The first site plan had the buildings too close together. M&L understands that section of the zoning regulations better than most because they were involved in modifying them due to a previous problem they had a few years prior. They fixed this spacing issue before the second public hearing, but only because the public brought it up.
    • The driveways on a couple units were too short to accommodate the required parking spots. The public complained about this in the public hearing, but cronies on the PZC were uninterested. The issue was then raised in the appeal of the site plan approval, but the court did not rule on it when overturning the approval.
  • Property at 64 South Elm Street (proposal 2):
    • M&L made the same “mistake” with building spacing that he did in proposal 1. When confronted about it by the public, Attorney Smith doubled down on the obvious error.

These are just examples over the course of a decade on one stretch of South Elm Street.