• Easton Citizens Challenge Zoning Board Over Special Permit For Woodworking Cabinet Shop

    Screenshot, 450 Sport Hill Road on GoogleMaps

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    Dan Lent, an Easton resident on behalf of many residents and groups in Easton, issued an appeal to the Easton Zoning Board of Appeals over a permit issued for a woodworking cabinet shop.

    Residents are requesting that Special Permit (SP24-01) for Major Home Business approved by Planning & Zoning on May 28, 2024, for the operation of a major at home business in a new accessory structure to the woodworking cabinet shop located at 450 Sport Hill Road be revoked.

    The Citizens For Easton, a land use preservation group, in information to its members stated that while they generally do not comment on individual zoning applications (and have utmost respect for entrepreneurial spirit), it is their belief that that breaking zoning to allow this manufacturing facility in Easton conflicts with the very essence of the character of Easton and sets an unlawful and dangerous precedent for our Town.

    The permit is not permissible under the Town’s current zoning regulations.

    Easton’s zoning regulations distinguish between ‘primary’ and ‘accessory’ buildings and uses. Accessory Buildings and Uses are defined as those that are “subordinate and customarily incidental” to the principal building and use.

    Parameters For Being “Accessory”

    CUSTOMARY – Something commonly practiced, used, or observed such that it is considered conventional and typical rather than unusual.

    INCIDENTAL ‐ Something likely to ensue as a minor consequence of another activity or something that happens as a minor part or result of something else.

    SUBORDINATE – Something inferior, smaller, fewer, and of less importance or impact or something placed in or occupying a lower class, rank, or position.

    - Easton Zoning Regulations § 2220

    "In the present case, years ago a great room of the residence at 450 Sport Hill was permitted as a home-based business. Now the business, Hillsport, LLC, has applied to expand that use to an ‘accessory’ building. In the minutes of the May 7, 2024 meeting, the action is described by P&Z itself as “Applicant relocating existing home-based business from the principal dwelling into detached accessory structure,” said the appeal.

    "It is clear, however, that the permit is invalid. This is not a subordinate, incidental, minor and customary consequence of the primary use. The home-based business currently operates out of a single great room in the residence as evidenced by a February, 2009 permit. This new operation is roughly 3,000 square feet, an order of magnitude greater than the great room," the appeal continued.

    Citizens For Easton further argued that the permit is not in compliance with Town regulations that "make clear that a second primary commercial manufacturing use is not permissible" and cautioned that the business may create "carcinogenic dust."

    The group also pointed to potential issues with Zoning Regulation #7100:

    “A nonconforming use may be changed to another nonconforming use provided that “[t]he Commission shall find that the proposed use is equally appropriate or more appropriate to the district than the existing nonconforming use."

    "Here, clearly the proposed use is not equally or more appropriate than the existing non-conforming use in a Town with no manufacturing or major commercial development (other than grandfathered uses)," argued the Citizens who pointed out that the property is a non-conforming lot pursuant to Section 7100.

    While non-conforming lots are permitted, it is “the purpose and intent of these Regulations that non‐conforming lots, uses and structures shall not be enlarged upon, expanded or extended.”

    “after the effective date of adoption or amendment of these Regulations or any applicable amendments hereto, a non-conforming use shall not be:

     a. enlarged or increased nor extended to occupy a greater floor area or area of land than was occupied at the effective date of adoption or amendment of these Regulations.

     b. moved in whole or in part to any portion of the land other than that occupied by such use at the effective date of adoption or amendment of these Regulations.

     c. extended or enlarged by the attachment to a building or land of additional signs intended to be seen from off the premises, or by the addition of other uses of a nature which would be prohibited generally in the district involved.”

    - Section 7130-3 of Easton Zoning Regulations

    Citizens For Easton argues that the Special Permit violates both Section 7100 and 7130-3 by enlarging, moving and extending a non-conforming use.

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