Rindge

ZBA grants pair of exceptions

Illuminated sign for West of the Border and Camp Starfish expansion OK’d

  • The Rindge Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews two applications for variances at a public hearing Tuesday night.
  • The Rindge Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews two applications for variances at a public hearing Tuesday night.
  • The Rindge Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews two applications for variances at a public hearing Tuesday night.
  • The Rindge Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews two applications for variances at a public hearing Tuesday night.
  • The Rindge Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews two applications for variances at a public hearing Tuesday night.

RINDGE — Residents can expect illuminated signs outside of West of the Border gas station and an expansion to the Camp Starfish property in the near future, following two variance applications approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Tuesday night.

One of the owners of West of the Border, LLC., located on Route 119, went before the board on Tuesday to ask for a variance from the part of the Rindge Zoning Ordinance related to illuminated signs. Ahmad Mortada, who owns West and North of the Border with his brothers, said at the hearing that they wish to install two illuminated canopy lights on the east and west side of the building, to include the company name.

They also want to install an illuminated sign perpendicular to the street, that would be identical to the sign outside of the nearby Shell Gas Station. This sign would include the business name, the gas prices offered, car wash information, as well as the name of a future franchise coffee shop expected to join the business. Illuminated signs violate the current zoning ordinance.

Mortada explained that the illuminated sign would provide drivers with quicker awareness of the business and would help with the flow of traffic. He said the size, height and brightness of the lit sign would be consistent with the Shell Gas Station, located a third of a mile down the road.

The board agreed the sign would help, and granted the variance. “It gives advance notice of a turn and a business,” board member Marsha Breckenridge said at the hearing. “It’s an industry-standard sign, for an allowed use, in a Gateway East Business District.”

Board member Phil Stenersen recused himself from voting on Mortada’s variance application. In an interview Wednesday, Stenersen said his reason was that his son did engineer work for the gas station at West of the Border.

The other variance application was for expansions to the Camp Starfish property located on 12 Camp Monomonac Rd., which would include two shed-style buildings to use as learning spaces, two expansions to cabins for additional sleeping space, two new cabins, creation of an emergency egress fire escape staircase, with a possible bump out to the dining hall and another row of parking spaces.

Camp Starfish works with special needs children, however, they are not a certified special education camp, representative for the camp Emily Golinsky told the board. With these expansions, the camp will be able to offer six more camper openings for each summer session, she said. In previous years, the camp could only register 12 children per session.

The main reason for the expansions is to assist the camp with complying with new state legislation on camp sleeping arrangements. Golinsky said they need more sleeping space for staff, because a new law says that male counselors cannot sleep in a space with female campers and vice versa. The law also says female and male counselors cannot sleep in the same room. However, Camp Starfish has more women on staff than men, so the bump outs will help keep the female counselors more secluded, without requiring staff changes.

Although the board approved the variance, members asked Golinsky if the expansions will keep coming, since this is her second year in a row asking for variances. The camp does not plan on continually growing, Golinsky said.

“Kids flourish in a small, intensive environment,” she said.

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