Resident Gets New Special Exception for Car Lot

The Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved a second special exception for a homeowner to sell pre-owned cars from his residence, after a change in state rules made his previous special exception out of date.

The board approved the request by James Battye at its Jan. 21 meeting.

The property is PID 04110, is located at 406 Island Pond Road, and is zoned Low Density Residential (LDR).

Battye read the criteria for a special exception, including:

• The proposed business will not be “injurious, noxious and offensive,” and will not produce “dust, vibration and noise.” Battye said he proved this under his previous special exception, which was approved in 2003.

• The home business will not change the residential character of the neighborhood.

• There will be only one sign, no more than 3 square feet in diameter.

• No more than one employee will be from the same residence.

• There will be sufficient off-street parking; and

• There will not be more than one home business.

Battye said he needed to amend the current special exception because the auto dealer license he formerly held and under which the exception was granted has been eliminated by the state. He formerly operated under a Bonded Retail Dealer license and that license has been abolished by the state, he said.

The requirements for the current license are that he move his office to the garage, because the state no longer allows auto dealers to have an office in the house; and that he display one vehicle for sale.

Battye said the state allows him to store up to eight unregistered vehicles on his property, and that these are in the rear of the property, fenced off and “neatly organized.”

The garage has enough space for a small office and it would not change the character of the neighborhood, Battye said.

The third condition of the state’s new license is that he has the ability to have customers come to the place of business. “I need to be able to meet the customers,” he said. He currently corresponds with clients on e-mail, by phone or text, he said, and advertises in newspapers or on the Internet.

Battye observed that while his home is zoned LDR, he is very close to the General Commercial area on Island Pond and Route 111.

Chairman Lynn Perkins asked, “How many vehicles will you be selling” and Battye said he sells two to four a month. He estimated that over the past three years, he has had 50 to 80 a year.

Member Steve Coppolo said, “I am confused. Are you required to display a vehicle?”

Battye said, “There needs to be a vehicle that says it is for sale when an officer comes to inspect it.”

Vice-Chair Allan Virr observed, “Your strategy for advertising must be effective. When I was still working I passed by your place every day, and I never realized you were an auto dealer.”

Alternate member Dana Naures agreed, saying, “I drive by there and I had no idea.”

But Virr also observed that there were several other vehicles parked at the property. Battye said he lives with his brother, sister-in-law and nieces and nephews and some of those cars belonged to family members.

Virr also noted that from reading Battye’s file, Battye has not always complied with the town laws on unregistered vehicles, and Perkins said that had been a condition of the 2003 special exception.

“You seem to keep deviating from that,” Perkins said.

“It is my Achilles heel,” Battye said. “I have a diminished area in which to store them. I comply to the best of my ability, and I try to keep the yard cleaned up.”

Virr also asked if Battye planned to step up his advertising, with colored lights and more of a “car lot” feel, and Battye said no.

To a question by Virr, Battye said the average price of the cars is $1,000 to $8,000.

He said he sells the cars as a sideline, except for a brief period of unemployment from his main job.

“It is hard to be too residential that close to 111,” Coppolo said.

The board approved the new special exception with the following conditions:

• subject to all state and local permits:

• no repair of vehicles on property;

• no more than eight unregistered vehicles;

• this special exception would supercede the one in 2003;

• hours of operation would not go beyond 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.;

• the special exception would expire with the sale of the property; and

• no junk cars will be stored on the property.

The board approved the special exception 5-0.