Gulf Street apartment expansion anticipated

A recently completed 15-unit apartment complex at 14 Gulf Street may be getting an expansion with the proposed construction of seven additional units on the adjacent 0.3-acre property at 26 Gulf Street.

The P&Z approved the original project for the 0.75-acre lot at 14 Gulf Street at its April 21, 2015 meeting. The board is expected to vote on the second phase at its Dec. 5 meeting.

Both projects were filed under the state’s affordable housing regulations, 8-30g, which override local zoning regulations. Although the properties are zoned SFA-10, which normally limits construction to single-family houses, under the 8-30g law that restriction does not apply. The board can only deny projects that pose a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public.

The developer of the first project, Two-Ninety Six LLC, purchased the 26 Gulf Street property, which has a 2,100 square foot house constructed in 1908, on Aug. 5, 2016 for $225,000. Angelo Lisi and Gregory Field are the principals in the LLC.

Attorney Thomas Lynch said the second phase calls for seven units that would be 1,500 square feet each with 915 square feet of living space, and would have one bedroom. The townhouse style units would be similar in style to the first phase, with a single-car garage having two floors of living space above it.

Lynch said the properties are “in close proximity” to the Corridor Design District 1 (CDD-1) zone, which is on Cherry Street. He said the CDD-1 zone has regulations that allow for affordable housing, but require a minimum of property size of one acre. With the purchase of the second property and the planned merger of the parcels, the combined lots exceed the one-acre minimum, he said.

Lynch said the developers did not know that they could buy 26 Gulf Street at the time the 14 Gulf Street project was proposed. If they had both properties and applied for a zone change to move the zoning line by one lot, “[this] property would have come before you as a conforming application,” said Lynch.

Lynch said of the seven units, two would be rented to people earning no more than 60% of the area’s median income with a monthly rent of $910.63, while one unit would be rented to people earning no more than 80% of the median income with a monthly rent of $1,150.40. Under the state law, these would be rented at affordable rates for 40 years.

The buildings would have sprinklers, following a request from Fire Marshal Gary Baker, due to the parking lot configuration, said Lynch. The police commission adopted the report from the Milford Police Department’s Traffic Division, stating that the project has no sight line issues and the seven units would generate a minimal amount of traffic, said Lynch.

Traffic Engineer David Spear said the traffic counts showed 850 vehicles on Gulf Street passing the site driveway during the morning peak hour, and 1,000 vehicles per hour during the afternoon peak hour.

Spear said the new units would generate six trips during the morning peak hour, and seven trips during the afternoon peak hour. He said during the peak hours, northbound traffic on Gulf Street waiting for the light at Cherry Street will back up in front of the site driveway, but will “clear out at the green,” said Spear.

Spear said the combined project would have 22 garages, 22 spaces in front of the garages, and 15 visitor spaces for a total of 59 parking spaces.

Board member Thomas Nichol questioned why Spear did his traffic counts during the week and not on the weekend when traffic from nearby St. Mary’s Church affects the area. Nichol said the church “is letting out 1,000 cars that are not accounted for.”

In response, Spear said that if 1,000 people are going to church, there are probably three people per car for 333 cars. He said he did the counts during the week because “commuter peak hours are significantly higher than the weekend hours.”

Lynch said he attends St. Mary’s and said, “It takes about 10 minutes for the traffic to clear from St. Mary’s Church.”

Board member Carl Moore asked if there would be a designated playground, saying he observed “a few kids trying to ride their tricycles in the parking lot.”

As part of the 2015 approval, the board required the applicant to create a passive recreation area in the open space at the rear, and improve the landscaping plan by adding two street trees on Gulf Street, and install additional shrubs alongside the building.

Lynch made reference to this rear area, saying it would be landscaped with a playscape.

The proposal drew one negative comment and no positive comments. Chelsea Ambrozaitis of 19 Gulf Street said she represents the group of young professionals that this project is looking to attract. Ambrozaitis said that while the project has one-bedroom units, “There are families with two to three children living in these units,” she said.

In response, Lynch said that Lisi told him that two single mothers with one child each live in two of the units. He said that Lisi is constructing a house for one of the families.

The 14 Gulf Street property has five buildings, each with three one-bedroom apartments. At the April 7, 2015 public hearing, six residential neighbors spoke against the proposal, mostly voicing concerns about traffic. The first proposal received support from two Milford business people.