Board awaits more traffic info on Meadowside housing plan

Seeking recent traffic counts, the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) held open the public hearing for a proposed 12-unit apartment complex with an affordable component at 328 Meadowside Road. The hearing is expected to resume at the board’s Dec. 19 meeting.

Beachland LLC is applying for a special permit and site plan for the 0.53-acre property located in the R-12.5 zone, which it purchased on Jan. 20, 2017 for $260,000. The project is next to Oyster Bay Condominiums.

The property has a single-family house constructed in 1962. William Colombo and Peter Romick of Milford are members and partners in the LLC.

In recent years, the board has reviewed a number of projects, which have being submitted under the state’s affordable housing law, a statute known as 8-30g, projects that residents, some of them who have shouted at the board in anger, have asked the board to deny.

Attorney Thomas Lynch introduced this proposal by saying, “I think you are going to have a little bit of a respite,” saying this is one of the last 8-30g projects currently being reviewed by city departments.

Lynch thanked the board for their volunteer efforts, saying, “These projects generate emotion and board members bear the brunt of that.”

Lynch described the area as transitional, saying it started after World War II as having primarily single-family homes, but now there are numerous multi-family properties. He said Oyster Bay Condominiums is adjacent to this property. Nearby are Meadowside Condominiums, and the city-owned senior housing on DeMaio Drive, and Jagoe Court.

Lynch represented Field & Son Builders, which constructed a 15-unit 8-30g townhouse project at 335 Meadowside Road that was built in 2016-2017. He said those units have been rented out.

“That projects speaks for itself. It is an asset to the area,” said Lynch.

Lynch said two of the units at 328 would be rented to people earning 60% of the area’s median income and they would pay rent of $915 per month. Two units would be rented to people earning 80% of the median income and they would pay $1,150 per month in rent. The eight market rate units would rent at an estimated $1,800 to $1,900 per month.

Lynch said the rear yard setback is 14.8 feet where the zoning regulations require 25 feet. The side yard setbacks are 6.8 feet where 10 feet is required.  Since this is an 8-30g project, which overrides local zoning regulations, those restrictions do not apply. The building height is 31 feet when the regulations permit up to 35 feet.

The project has received approvals from all city departments, said Lynch, including the Sewer Commission, the fire marshal, and the police department. He said the wetlands agency issued a statement saying there is no wetlands impact from the project.

Washington Cabezas, the project engineer, said the existing single-family home will be demolished, and replaced with four buildings, each with three single-bedroom units. Each unit will have its own garage and there will be 15 additional surface spaces. The buildings will cover 30% of the lot with total site coverage of 69%.

Cabezas said the rear section of the property will be elevated slightly, and a trench drain would be installed around the back perimeter of the property for “extra protection” to collect storm water. He said five rows of infiltrators would collect water from the roof and parking lot. He said the project has extensive landscaping and meets the city’s requirement for trees.

David Spear, traffic engineer, said in the peak afternoon hour 780 vehicles pass the site driveway on Meadowside Road. He said the project would generate nine trips during the morning peak hour and 11 drips during the afternoon peak hour.

From 2014-2016, there was only one motor vehicle accident within 500 feet of the driveway, said Spear. Based on the average speed of 34-35 miles per hour, the project requires sightlines of 390 feet, and he said visibility extends to more than 400 feet in both directions.

“There is no significant impact on traffic operations from the proposed development,” said Spear.

City Planner David B. Sulkis hired traffic engineer Andy Chakraborty at the applicant’s expense to review Spear’s data. Chakraborty said he generally agreed with Spear’s conclusions with two exceptions.

Chakraborty said that Spear used traffic counts from 2013, commenting, “I usually take exception to counts that are four years old,” but said that since Spear used numbers that are the most conservative, “I am okay with it.” He said he would like to see the curb cuts on the site plan “be appropriate for a service delivery vehicle.”

In response, Cabezas said, “To turn around, a service vehicle would need a cul-de-sac on the site and the site will not support that.” He said the 24-foot width between the parking stalls and the building is adequate for smaller vehicles, and to make the width adequate for a larger vehicle would require eliminating a building.

Spear said there is enough room on site for a standard FedEx or UPS truck to turn around.

Board member Michael Dolan questioned the traffic data from 2013 and asked if the board requested a new traffic study with updated data would that be preferable to Spear’s data.

In response, Chakraborty said it would be preferable. He said the best time to do the counts would be early December to avoid the influence of both Thanksgiving and Christmas traffic. Sulkis said the data could be ready by the board’s Dec. 19 meeting.

Spear responded by saying that his data involved traffic counts from the state Department of Transportation from 2012 and 2015, plus his own traffic counts in 2017. He said Chakraborty agreed with his data about the project generating only nine morning and 11 afternoon trips, and also with the background numbers.

“Our site traffic will not impact that. You are wasting everybody’s time and money,” said Spear.

Chakraborty said he did not think the 2017 numbers would be higher. He said Spear’s data could be verified by doing intersection turning movement counts, predicting, “It will not show much difference.”

Board member Thomas Nichol asked how the project could be constructed with a 6.8-foot side setback where 10 feet is required without going over the property line.

In response, Cabezas said it would require permission from the adjoining property owner.

Columbo said, “We do this all the time on smaller properties.” He said his company lifts houses at the beach with zero setbacks and said he does not need approval from Oyster Bay Condominiums.