Final Meadowside housing plan is modified from original

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approved a hybrid plan on March 21 for a 15-unit apartment complex at 335 Meadowside Road, incorporating elements of the revised site plan into a modified version of the original proposal.

Warren and Christopher Field own the one-acre property under the name of 335 Meadowside LLC. They had applied to the P&Z for a minor modification to an already approved site plan for the project, asking the P&Z to approve changes to the mostly-constructed project.

At the March 7 public hearing, developer Warren K. “Buddy” Field Jr. proposed installing a curtain drain the length of the property that would be 1.5 feet deep, lined with a pipe, and covered with crushed stone to catch any run-off from the townhouse property, and pipe it out to the street. Field also proposed erecting a vinyl fence between six and nine feet high to give the neighbors privacy.

Other changes that have been built include a shortened sidewalk in the front center of each unit to allow for additional landscaping; and using stone pavers in front of the unit, and on the sidewalks, instead of the asphalt paving and concrete sidewalks that were approved.

There were minor changes to window placement on three buildings, and two buildings had an additional window installed. Field also sought approval of changes to placement of water, natural gas, and electrical utilities as directed by utility companies.

At that same hearing, Frank and Denise Ginise of 331 Meadowside Road, expressed concern that the grade at the rear of the townhouses was several feet higher than the approved plan, and that resulted in water running off onto their property. Their interior lot is accessed by a 350-ft. long driveway, which runs parallel to the rear of the townhouses.

John Pagliano of 325 Meadowside Road complained on March 7 about run-off from the townhouses, and a loss of privacy from the buildings that are taller than his house. Pagliano requested trees be planted for privacy, a request that the Ginises also made.

The Fields filed the application under state’s affordable housing statute, 8-30g, a law that overrides local zoning regulations. The property is zoned for single-family use.

The board had deferred its discussion from the March 7 meeting to the March 21 meeting, pending input from City Attorney Jonathan D. Berchem, regarding the power of the board to regulate changes to an 8-30g project. Board Chairman Scott Marlow said he received an email from the city attorney, indicating he was preparing a response to the board’s questions.

At the March 21 meeting, Field said he was withdrawing portions of his request for the modified site plan. He indicated he planned to regrade the area around the buildings to match the original plans approved in 2015, and he did not plan to install the curtain drain, or the vinyl fence, and would adhere to the approved planting plan.

The board voted 8-1 with board member John Grant opposed, to approve the minor modification, agreeing to the paving and window changes, along with the additional landscaping in front of the buildings.

However, the board also added to the approval the requirement that the Fields install the curtain drain and vinyl fence.

In making the motion to approve the minor amendment, board member Jim Quish added back the curtain drain and the vinyl fence, saying that the neighbors were concerned that drainage was a problem. Quish said the Fields were getting approval of the other changes.

“When we are forced to allow 8-30g developments in this city, it’s a detriment to the neighbors, and this allows us to get a little more,” said Quish.

While he voted for the amendment, board member Michael Dolan said, “I don’t see how we can win if the developer appeals. Hopefully now that he is going back to the original grading, the curtain drain is no longer needed.”

Board members Tom Panzella and Carl Moore agreed with Quish when they said the additional drainage and the fence would be beneficial to the neighborhood.

City Planner David B. Sulkis advised the board they did not have the authority to regulate placement of water, gas and electrical line, indicating that utility companies determine their placement on the site, which often differs from approved site plans. As a result, the board left that out of the motion to approve.

“We have never had control over the placement of utilities,” said Sulkis.

According to Sulkis, the Building Department has issued certificates of occupancy as buildings have been completed. He said the city’s practice has been to withhold the certificate of occupancy for the last building in a multi-unit project as “our insurance policy so that things get done.”

Following the meeting Joseph Griffith, director of permitting and land use, said that certificates of occupancy have been issued for three of the five buildings.

The project has a garage for each unit, plus an additional 32 surface parking spaces. The three-story townhouse style buildings stand taller than the neighboring homes, most of which are one and a half story raised ranch style single-family houses.