Multiple Variances Sought for 55-and-over Rental Project

Team Business Development Corp. is seeking to build a 110-unit, 55-and-older age restricted rental complex in the Button Drive, Golen Drive and Reed Street area, but is requesting several variances from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to do so.

Variance requests include:

• Constructing the complex of three connected buildings on 7.96 acres, where 15 acres are required;

• Allowing 56 percent open space, where 70 percent is required;

• Being allowed to have 36 and 42 units in the buildings, where 16 units are the maximum;

• Being allowed to have an increase in density of 15.8 units per acre, where six units per acre are the maximum allowed;

• Allowing 20 feet of separation between buildings, where 60 feet is required;

• Having a mix of one and two bedroom units, where only two bedroom units are required; and

• Having .95 parking spaces per unit, where 1.2 parking spaces per bedroom are required.

In March, Atty. Patricia Panciocco brought the variance requests before the ZBA; at that time, they were continued without any rulings until the April meeting.

At the April meeting, Panciocco requested a continuance until the May meeting, saying there were items from the Planning Board that Team Business Development Corp. wanted to include in its presentation.

At the Wednesday, May 21 meeting, Panciocco and Jocelyn Bos of Team Development brought the parking variance request to the ZBA and gave testimony that elder citizens drive less and have fewer cars; therefore fewer parking spaces would be sufficient.

Board member Neil Dunn said he and his wife have a multi-vehicle household.

The issue arose that because of the economy, a widow or widower or others may choose to share an apartment, with each person owning a car. It was also noted that seniors are sometimes working later in life.

“Your complex is 55 and over,” board member Jim Tirabassi said. “At 55, people are still working and have a few years left until they can retire. If there are couples who are over 55 and still working, they’re probably going to have two cars.”

After almost two hours of discussion on whether parking requirements should be based on the number of bedrooms in the complex or the number of units, or on how many cars elders have, resident Mike Speltz said he was struggling with how to proceed.

“We have seven waiver requests here,” he said. “It seems to me the very first waiver request, where they asked to go from 15 acres to 8 acres, should the board not grant that waiver, it would solve quite a few of the other ones. There would then be room enough to meet the open space requirement. There would then be room enough, depending on how many acres were added, to get to the six-unit-per-acre requirement. It would certainly allow extra parking spaces, so – I think it would make sense to look at that waiver request and make a decision on it. It may not help if the board grants that waiver, but if it chooses not to grant that waiver, it solves a lot of other problems.”

The board took Speltz’s advice and turned to the waiver requesting 7.96 acres, where 15 acres are required.

Panciocco said that while in the past more acreage was required for septic, leach fields and wells, the area had municipal water and sewer, so smaller parcels could be developed and the larger requirement was unnecessary.

During deliberations, board member David Paquette raised the fact that the company owned the seven acres in question, and also owned about 13 more acres of adjoining land.

“They own all of this land,” Paquette said, pointing to a handout rendering.

“So your premise is that they own enough land to meet the 15 acres,” Chairman James Smith said.

“Yes,” Paquette responded.

Paquette, referring to Panciocco’s statement that the ordinance was 24 years old, said that in spite of its age, it was still an active ordinance.

At that point Panciocco interrupted the deliberations and asked if the requests could be tabled. “I’m getting new information,” she said.

Smith asked Building Inspector Richard Canuel whether tabling was something the board could do.

“You can do that, you’re the board, but you have to agree to table the deliberations and reopen the public hearing and the applicant has to request a continuance,” Canuel said.

The board tabled its deliberations and Panciocco asked for a continuance until the next meeting in June. The board voted unanimously to continue the proceedings until June 18.

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