Circle Drive bed and breakfast: Land purchase bothers neighbors

A quaint bed-and-breakfast contained to two bedrooms in a single house? Or a booming, multi-lot hospitality business that threatens neighborhood tranquility?  

The game’s afoot on Circle Drive, where neighbors have created dueling lawn signs, websites, and digital newsletters in advance of an Oct. 17 public hearing in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Homeowners Tom and Cathy Savoca maintain that the special permit application they submitted this summer for Front Porch Farm — a two-bedroom bed-and-breakfast inside their residence at 47 Circle Drive — hasn’t changed, and doesn’t include any expansion plans.

But neighbors point to a one-acre lot at 39 Circle Drive — adjacent to the proposed site — that the Savocas purchased for $205,000 on Sept. 6, and insist it means something bigger is coming down the pipeline.

“This is not a small, warm and fuzzy B&B,” wrote Lori Mazzola of Circle Drive East in a letter to The Press this week. “This is a commercial investment that is going to grow.”

“I have a hard time believing they’d spend $200,000 just to turn it into a garden,” added neighbor Rob Pacifico, who formed an opposition group called the Circle Drive Neighbors Alliance earlier this summer.

Pacifico told The Press this week that he’s concerned the couple is using the application to set a precedent for future plans in the neighborhood.

“I think from their perspective, it makes more sense to get the permit and then use that as a precedent,” Pacifico said. “I think if they tried to get this other lot approved, P&Z would be less likely to approve their application.”

‘Purely coincidental’

According to property transfer files from the town clerk’s office, the property was sold to 39 Circle Drive LLC — a company of which Cathy Savoca claims she and her husband are the sole members.

She added that buying the vacant lot had nothing to do with their application for Front Porch Farm.

“Our application for a two-bedroom B&B special permit at 47 Circle Drive remains exactly that … two bedrooms in our existing home on our existing property,” she said in an email to The Press.

“The timing on the land purchase is purely coincidental, and any suggestion that there is a grand plan for expansion is based in fearmongering and conjecture and not fact,” Savoca said. “The lot is a legally separate buildable lot on which a five-bedroom home could be built. We bought it for the same reason as the four developers who were also bidding on it: It was a good investment.”

Savoca said she and her husband have no immediate plans for the site.

“Our immediate plans are to continue to watch the daffodils come up in the spring, and enjoy the same extra privacy we have had for 23 years,” she said. “We look forward to our Oct. 17 public hearing as the conclusion to a process designed to allow for a public, open-minded, respectful conversation based in fact.”

Law and order

While neighbor concerns are welcome at the public hearing, Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said the Savocas would not be allowed to expand their bed-and-breakfast operations beyond their existing, primary residence under town zoning regulations.

The reason? Town regulations require that the homeowner reside in the dwelling he or she applies to rent out.

“Unless you were going to cut yourself in half,” Baldelli explained, “that wouldn’t be possible.”