The Worthington Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) met on October 29, 2021 to hear and consider the case of Listens Bar and Grill (Listons) under section 6 of the zoning bylaws. Those ZBA members present included Ned Ferguson (chair), Kevin Porter, Judith Chapman and George Coling. Listens is located at 324 Old North Road, Worthington MA.
Listons has been in operation since the early 1930’s and has been a bar and grill since at least 1945. The original buildings and additions date back to before the Worthington Zoning bylaws were adopted in 1970. As such, Listons is grandfathered and has not been required to meet zoning regulations. Listens was recently purchased by new owners that wish to rebuild the structure and bring it into compliance with today’s building codes. Because the site has a water well that cannot be moved per the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the building housing the bar and grill cannot be rebuilt in an area on the property that would meet existing zoning requirements. Therefore it was necessary for the ZBA to consider whether to allow the new owners to rebuild on the existing footprint.
John Thomas, one of the new owners, presented the case for the section 6 determination. He referred to two charts (attached), which showed the architectural plans for the new Listens. The new bar and grill will be built on the existing footprint of the previous Listens, with a few minor changes designed to create a better flow in the building. The square footage will be virtually the same as the old facility. The building will be built to the updated building code and be compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). The outside seating and parking areas will stay the same.
Following Mr. Thomas’s presentation, the ZBA briefly discussed the Section 6 determination. Section 6 of the Worthington Zoning bylaws provides: [a]ny lawful building or structure or lawful use of a building or structure on premises existing at the time this By-law is adopted may be continued even if not in conformity with the provisions of this By-law………………………………………. Any non-conforming building or structure may be enlarged to a reasonable extent or replaced if authorized by the Board of Appeals, but any new use of the building, structure or premises shall conform to this By-law.
As the new owners are continuing the same business that has existed for almost 80 years, the ZBA approved their request to replace the existing structure(s). Those voting in favor included all four of the Board members present (Ned Ferguson, Kevin Porter, Judith Chapman and George Coiling).
It is so ordered, by the Worthington ZBA that: All buildings and structures on the property (located at 324 Old North Road) may be replaced/rebuilt provided each new building is built as close as possible to the existing footprint, does not exceed 100 square feet over what previously existed, and is used for the restaurant (bar and grill) business.