This case concerns the use of the commercially-zoned property at 230 Worcester Road (Route 9) in Natick, owned by plaintiff George Pagounis and leased to plaintiff Amerada Hess Corporation (Hess). Hess currently operates a gasoline station on the property pursuant to a special permit originally issued in 1957 by the Natick Board of Selectmen and re-granted by the defendant Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in 1968. The buildings on the property have non-conforming setbacks and side yards, but the property has long-since received variances for each of those non-conformities.
In keeping with the changing economics of gasoline stations, Hess proposes to eliminate the existing service bays, reduce the buildings size by approximately one-third, renovate the remaining interior, and begin selling a limited array of retail convenience items, primarily snack foods and soft drinks. [Note 1] The site would be re-landscaped, individual parking spaces marked and striped, and the existing curb cuts onto the neighboring residential streets eliminated so that vehicles can only access and exit via Route 9. Because the sale of convenience items adds a retail store component to the existing operations, a special permit modification is required to implement this proposal. [Note 2] An application was duly filed. The ZBA denied the application and the plaintiffs timely brought this G.L. c. 40A, §17 appeal.
For the reasons set forth in the February 10, 2009 Decision issued by the court (Long, J.), I find and rule I find that the plaintiffs more than satisfied the relevant criteria and the ZBA acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it denied the special permit modification. That denial is therefore ANNULLED and VACATED, and the case is remanded with instructions that the special permit modification promptly be issued.
By the court (Long, J.)
Deborah J. Patterson, Recorder
Dated: 10 February 2009
[Note 1] The proposed retail space would be between 600 and 650 sq. feet.
[Note 2] See Memorandum and Order Denying Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment at 5-7 (June 17, 2008).