Washington Street housing plan moves forward

With a change in ownership, a new housing plan is moving forward at 63 Washington St., following unanimous Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approval at its Oct. 2 meeting.

Attorney Thomas Lynch filed a revised application on behalf of Eight-30G LLC, receiving approval for its amendment to an approved special permit with site plan review. The LLC lists William Columbo and Peter Romick as members with a business address of 25 Roselle St.

On June 12, 2008, the board approved an application from former owner Thomas Collucci to construct a six-unit multi-family building with two affordable units at 63 Washington Street, a proposal that drew no public comment.

Lynch said with the downturn in the market in 2008, Colucci decided not to develop the property. In 2012, he received an extension of his approval to 2022.

Columbo and Romick purchased the property on Oct. 17, 2017 for $210,000, and transferred ownership to the LLC on March 20. The 0.38-acre parcel located in the Corridor Design Development District-1 (CDD-1) zone has a 1,700 square foot house constructed in 1949.

Lynch said this proposal is an improvement over the original proposal for several reasons. He said this project will have two buildings of three units each, compared to the one building in the original plan. He said each unit will have its own garage with an additional surface space in front, along with four visitor spaces.

Since each unit has its own garage, the enclosed dumpster from the original plan has been removed. Instead, unit owners will have their own garbage and recycling bins kept in a designated place inside the garage. This change also eliminates the need for a large truck to come onto the site, said Lynch.

Lynch said the original plan had 12 parking spaces, all of them surface spaces, and that would have required tearing down trees along the eastern and northern parts of the property.

Project engineer Ronald Wassmer described those trees as “a significant shrub grove” consisting of white cedar and arborvitae that are 20 to 25 feet tall, and screen the property from the adjacent Washington Field.

Wassmer said the project includes an onsite stormwater drainage system. There will be two light poles to illuminate the parking lot.

According to the plans, the new design calls for six one-bedroom apartments of about 900 square feet each in two buildings of three units each; one unit in each building would be designated as affordable. The townhouse style design has a first-level garage with a two-floor dwelling unit above it.

Lynch said when the original plan was approved, multi-family projects in the CDD-1 zone were required to have affordable units, a regulation the board changed in 2017. He said since the original approval required two affordable units, they are being retained in the revised plan.

The original project required a variance with regard to lot size because the lot is only 16,000 square feet, but a 40,000-square-foot lot is required, and also a waiver because the landscaping buffer on the Washington Field side will be only 7.3 feet, which is less than the required 10 feet. However, since the revised application was submitted under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law, local zoning rules do not apply.

Unusual for an 8-30g project, the proposal received no public comment, nor did the board have a discussion, beyond reviewing the approvals from various city departments.