East End Developer Loses Zoning Appeal Against City; “Difficulty Appeal” Continued for Proof of Ownership of “Passageway” – Sumner Court

Ron Gan, Developer of Federal Street Condominiums, Foreground.

Pam Jack: "He Does Not Own Sumner Court."

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,161)

Last night the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously denied developer Ron Gan’s application to challenge the Zoning Administrator’s decision regarding two lots off Sumner Court that Gan has been waiting years to develop. They are lots 49 & 71 which Gan purchased in June of 2003 as one package. He was represented by attorney Thomas Jewell at the public hearing at city hall.

In a highly questionable move, Gan directed a former attorney to draw-up a Corrective Deed implying that it was Gan’s intent to take title to the two lots separately. This separation of lots, if legal, would entitle Gan to apply for less restrictive zoning. The Zoning Board of Appeals, chaired by Philip Saucier, voted in the zoning administrator’s favor and denied Gan’s challenge to her position.

In a related matter, Gan and his attorney filed a request for a “practical difficulty variance.” This would permit Lot 49, relief from following the city’s ordinance that requires this small size lot to have 40 ft. of frontage on North Street. The old Summer Court “passageway” has only 12 ft. frontage off North Street.

But his problems were only beginning. Gan has consistently maintained that he owns Sumner Court; the narrow dirt road exiting onto North Street. But, a well organized group of abutters and neighbors differed. According to Pam Jack, North Street resident, “He (Gan) does not own Sumner Court. It’s not mentioned in any of his legal papers. He doesn’t maintain it. The city does that.” Rather, John Carolan, also of North Street, has title to a portion of the gravel road. Carolan was one of about twenty who testified against both Gan’s appeals. No one testified in favor of them.

City corporate counsel, Gary Wood, interrupted the proceeding to recommend that a decision on this be delayed. “This board does not determine who owns titles. The applicant has to get it determined. This is stuff of title courts.” Chair and attorney Philip Saucier concurred: “I feel uncomfortable going forward on this variance. It’s disappointing to put this off, but we can’t issue a variance when ownership in in question.”

The title issue is expected to return to the zoning board agenda in Sepember for consideration.

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