O'Brien commentary on Kline home fully factual

Editor's note: The following letter was received as a reply to Joan Barkan's letter which was received in response to Greg O'Brien's October 7 blog post entitled, "Kline offers new compromise: The value of negotiating for Truro".

To the Editor:

I have read Ms. Barkan's letter of October 14, 2012 with great interest.  The tone of the letter exemplifies the position of Stephens Way neighbors' in Truro with respect to the controversy over the Kline home.

Ms. Barkan characterizes my column (The Value of Negotiation for Truro) as "yet another misrepresentation of what has happened" and then purports to "correct" alleged misstatements. Statements of fact in the commentary are accurate, and vetted through legal documents in the case. What is clear is that Ms. Barken doesn’t agree with the perspective of this commentary, which is opinion, like her points of view in this matter. I don’t stand alone in my perspective on the Kline controversy; among others, it is one similar to one expressed articulately on the editorial pages of the Boston Globe last February.

Ms. Barken states in her letter that the overriding concern of the residents who have opposed the Kline house has always been that the law should apply equally to everyone including the wealthy and powerful.  The statement is rich with irony.  The Klines themselves are seeking equal treatment under the law.

As to the comment that opposing residents are only seeking the fair application of the law and that's all they have ever wanted, it doesn’t square with the history of the controversy.

In the summer of 2007, before a building permit was ever applied for, Ms. Barkan and her neighbors signed a petition asking the Truro Board of Selectmen to send this proposal for a single family residence to the Cape Cod Commission as a development of regional impact because it was being built on the so-called Hopper landscape (which, they argued, should be protected), and was being built in sensitive habitat.  To my knowledge, this is the only single family home that was ever subject to Commission scrutiny; not exactly equal treatment under the law.  After an eight-month review by the Commission and the state agency regulating habitat, for which the Klines received consent, the issue du jour became the zoning problem when the building permit was issued in May, 2008.  The crux of the zoning dispute was that the new house would overload Stephens Way, a 10-to-12 foot dirt road that serves the neighborhood.  The theory was that adding the four bedrooms of the new house to the four bedrooms of the Cobb House meant that the nonconformity of the property was increased to the detriment of the neighborhood.  Mrs. Kline's present proposal resolves that problem; it eliminates four bedrooms so that the status quo is maintained.  Ms. Barkan quotes appellate law to cover the new situation to buttress her opposition to this new house.

Mrs. Kline's proposal resolves this problem.

Ms. Barkan has missed the point of my commentary, which is that compromise is the best solution to many controversies, including this one.  It allows neighbors to live in peace.

Greg O’Brien
Brewster, MA

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