Heads to Planning Board July 17

Citizens' petition opposes alterations to residence, not proposed B&B

By Beth A. Birmingham | Jul 10, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham This residence at 29 Green St. in Thomaston shows alterations made recently -- exterior stairs and doors -- in preparation for a proposed bed and breakfast. A petition challenges the alterations, stating they are in violation of town land use ordinances, but does not oppose the establishment of a B&B.

Thomaston — The Board of Selectmen accepted a petition signed by 30 citizens of Thomaston relating to alterations made to a residence at 29 Green St. in preparation for seeking a conditional use for a bed and breakfast.

Property owners Maria Gionis Fournier and Nickolaos Gionis are on the Planning Board agenda for 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at Watts Hall, to propose the property zoned urban residential in the Land Use Ordinance be allowed to operate such an establishment.

The petition, received by Planning Board Chairman Joanne Richards July 1, notes the lengthy efforts the Comprehensive Plan Committee has gone to to gather information about what townspeople feel are the town's strengths and challenges, and what they want for the town's future.

"Consistently listed among our greatest strengths is the historic character and architecture of our housing stock," the petition states. "The growing trend of homeowners to renovate and improve individual homes adds value not only for the homeowner, but to the value and tax base of the town."

The petition charges the Gionises and the town of Thomaston ignored town ordinances when they failed to get Planning Board approval for alterations recently made to the property, including the construction of three outdoor sets of stairs leading to the second story.

The intention, according to the petition, is to provide egress for bedrooms on the second floor to meet fire code to open a bed and breakfast. Windows were also removed to install doors on the second floor, further altering the appearance of the home.

Being a corner lot, all staircases are visible from Green Street, while two are visible from Hyler Street.

The petition states that although the homeowner apparently had a building permit, a conditional approval for commercial usage was not obtained from the Planning Board, as required by the town's Land Use Ordinance.

Additionally, a section in the ordinance addressing bed and breakfast/tourist homes states, "There shall be no exterior changes to the street front of the residence. Other exterior alterations shall be limited to those required to comply with applicable health, building, and fire-safety codes and shall not substantially alter the single-family appearance of the residence."

The petitioners state they are not in opposition to the establishment of a bed and breakfast, but object to the alterations, as they are in violation of town ordinances.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Edwin E Ecker | Jul 10, 2018 16:31

Just another " not in my back yard" complaint from the people who can't stand anyone making a better life for themselves !

Grow a pair and stop complaining or move !

Posted by: Janet Ruth Dearborn | Jul 10, 2018 14:14

First, what is a "conditional building permit"? When a building permit is submitted it should have drawings to scale of any structural changes proposed to the building, and in this case with a proposed use change for the structure. This building has always been a residential home. The request to turn the home into a Bed & Breakfast should have first been approved by the Planning Board prior to any alterations beginning on the structure.


The owners then proceeded to erect three large stairways and  removed windows to insert doors. Was there a contractor involved who might have thought that a building permit would have been needed? This should have triggered a big red flag that the owners were proceeding with alterations without a permit. Or, maybe the Building Official checked in to view the open risers being constructed on the stairways, difficult and unsafe in the winter. If any of these scenarios apply, they never should have occurred.


Now, the dialogue has shifted to whether there are objections to the home being a B&B. For me this has absolutely no bearing on the construction that has has been completed on this structure. I have a fair amount of experience, as perhaps we all do staying at B&B's. I have never experienced exterior stairways to gain entrance to my room.` This might be necessary if the stairways led to apartments where a separate entrance for the tenant would be necessary. But, then you would be looking at a petition for a multi-use building.


As a resident, I would not like to see this home remain with three new stairways.  It would be bizarre looking in any neighborhood. They should be removed, doors removed and the windows replaced. The applicants might wish to" plead hardship" since they have already erected the stairways which I am just assuming was without approval or a factual permit. If they unilaterally decided to alter their property they are in violation of a multitude of codes and should be fined. Perhaps the residence will not be owner occupied thus requiring individual entrances for guests. If there are kitchens in three separate units it would solve the mystery.


I fail to see any applicable use for a "conditional permit", it is contradiction to the process which should be in place for issuing building permits.





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