UPDATED – Faced with an overflowing crowd of opponents, an applicant seeking to allow a variance on the use of 27.5 acres on Carlisle Road, swiftly withdrew his application from the Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 18.
Jeffrey Lamy of Lowell is seeking to build an indoor/outdoor recreational facility at 132 Carlisle Road. The property is owned by a trust belonging to Joseph and Paige DiPietro who sent a letter to town Planner Jeff Morrissette expressing support for Lamy’s business plan.
“…We have known Jeff for several years and have every confidence that he would build and maintain a premier facility which will benefit the many Westford families that already belong to his organization, and provide the opportunity to include many more,” they wrote in a letter dated Nov. 14 to the Zoning Board.
But a slew of letters from abutting neighbors suggested that Lamy has few if any other supporters so far.
“…let’s face it,” said Bob Herrmann, chairman of the Board of Appeals, “It’s recreation for profit and in my opinion is a business that you want to put into a residential zone, and I’ve got a big problem with that.”
Lamy’s attorney, Joseph Clermont of Dracut, said his client understands the concerns expressed by neighbors and abutters.
“…Mr. Lamy wants to assure you he’ll do whatever is necessary to address those concerns,” Clermont said.
They include worries over parking, noise, light pollution, loss of the parcel’s 2.5 acres of wetlands, and impairment of the Butter Brook which runs nearby.
Lamy was proposing to run his facility seven days from 5 to 9 p.m. between September and June and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from June to August. The facility would be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on school vacation weeks. The maximum number of cars parked there would be 35, with up to 50 players on the fields or inside the barn.
“Basically you want to run a seven-day business down there and I personally can’t support it,” said Herrmann.
The property is known as Snow Creek Farm, offering two barns, a 4-bedroom, 3 ½ bathroom house of almost 3,000 square feet, and an indoor riding facility. The property was priced at $897,119, according to Zillow. The website specifies the property is not on the market.
Neither Joseph nor Paige DiPietro returned a call seeking comment, nor did Lamy.
Lamy intends to live in the home and operate his private recreational facility on the property, according to Clermont. Lamy has run soccer camps and clinics in conjunction with Westford’s Recreation Department at Jack Walsh Field for 16 years, Clermont added. In addition, Lamy founded Mill City FC offering soccer and futsal clinics. Training fields are located in Westford, Chelmsford and Lancaster, according to the soccer club’s website.
In written comments sent to the town’s Planning Department, abutters made their feelings known about Lamy’s plans. In an email dated Jan. 18 from Seth and Michelle Hillman, the couple stated, “We are writing to you today to implore you to reject the application for variances on the 132 Carlisle road parcel. Our home faces the parcel and as abutters, we are extremely concerned about this proposed non-residential use of the property.”
Their sentiments were echoed, sometimes in greater detail, by other abutters whose letters were distributed to the board members.
“The scope of the project is way too big,” said board member Scott MacKay.
“I see this impacting the area significantly and I don’t think it fits in the neighborhood in that residential area,” said Board member Jay Enis.
Herrmann added that Lamy could withdraw the application without prejudice, meaning he could bring it back before the board at any time.
“It certainly sounds as if you don’t have the support,” said Herrmann to Lamy. “If in fact we close the public hearing and deny it, then you can’t come back for two years.”
It’s unclear whether any of Lamy’s Mill City club members were present at the meeting to support him because the hearing ended before the floor opened to comments. But on Jan. 12 Lamy sent an email to his Mill City community asking for the members’ support.
“…Mill City is interested in purchasing a 27.5 acre property on Carlisle road, and turning a portion of the property into Mill City headquarters,” Lamy wrote. “…we need your help in making this dream become a reality.”
Clermont ended the hearing by asking to withdraw Lamy’s application.
“We would request withdrawal without prejudice. Go back to the drawing board, see if there are any other opportunities that may present itself that may be a little less intrusive and be able to fit in as far as the neighborhood is concerned,” Clermont said.
Follow Joyce Pellino Crane on Twitter @joypellinocrane.
This story was updated on Jan. 22 and 23 to change the name of the governmental board to Zoning Board of Appeals, and to specify the applicant’s request as a use variance for the property. The lede was also changed to correct a grammatical error.