SHIRLEY -- Two requests that came before the Planning Board July 17 were not specifically board issues, members determined after some discussion. But they heard out the petitioners and tried to assist them by suggesting possible next steps.

The first request was from Tristum Darby, of Hazen Road, who submitted a "formal request" seeking the board's seal of approval to build -- sometime in the future -- on a hammerhead lot. He did not, however, have specific plans for them to review.

For now, all he asked for was a letter, but it seems he came to the wrong place.

Darby and his wife Gloria purchased their 27 Hazen Road property from her father, Arthur Boutilier, in March and are now in the process of buying two more family-owned lots next to it. They plan to build a house on one of the two lots, "in about five years," Darby told the board.

Then, in 10 years or so, their long-range vision is to build another house on the land behind theirs for their son, which would require a hammerhead lot designation due to lack of road frontage on the second lot. There was once a house on the lot, but it has since been torn down, Darby said.

What he's asking for now is a letter certifying that the land he wants to buy is a "buildable lot" so he can get a loan from Fidelity Bank, Darby said.

After some discussion about the particulars of his case, such as acreage, zoning and other issues, the board suggested that Darby go to the Assessors Office, where records might show the appropriate code designating the lot as buildable for tax purposes. If so, the assessors would likely be able to provide him with the verification he needs for the bank, the Planning Board said.

Dan Gardner had even less luck. And by the time the back and forth was over, it looked like he wouldn't have much success with the Zoning Board, either.

Gardner owns three house lots on Townsend Road and wants to build a duplex on the 200,000-square-foot site. He came to the Planning Board for "guidance," relative to zoning and subdivision requirements, he said.

Chairman Jonathan Greeno consulted the revised zoning bylaws. "It's not zoned for multi-family," he said.

There are no structures on the property now, Gardner said, but he's already started work to upgrade the septic system design for a two-family house, based on the premise that with a special permit, a conversion for up to three units would be allowed.

"But you're building new ... it's not a conversion," Greeno said.

Gardner asked if he could build a single-family house, provided the Planning Board approves it, then attach another house later and convert it.

It still wouldn't satisfy zoning for that area, which rules out a duplex, members said. It can't look like a two-family, they explained, with two of everything, but would have to resemble a single-family home, at least from the outside.

Besides, Greeno said, the scheme sounded like "skirting the bylaw," to him.

"I'm not here to argue and fight, just to interpret the laws," Gardner responded.

"You can have an attorney look at it, be my guest," Greeno concluded. "But I'm telling you what the bylaw says."

Gardner thanked the board and left.