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Applicant asks to build 16 apartments all at once

Planning Board to consider waiving town’s phasing ordinance for Route 119 development

RINDGE — An applicant looking to build a 16-unit apartment complex is asking the town to waive its phasing ordinance, which would force the units to be built over several years, and allow all the units to be constructed at one time.

Ed Rogers, of Rogers Engineering Solutions, presented the application on behalf of Three Daughters LLC. The application is seeking approval for a planned unit residential development of three buildings, containing 16 two-bedroom apartments. The development would be built on a 40-acre parcel on Route 119 in Rindge, across the street from North Street and next to the Boss Contractor’s office. The construction of the buildings would be concentrated onto an area of approximately one acre, to keep the development close to the highway.

During the meeting, Rogers and Three Daughters attorney Jim Callahan submitted a variance request for the town’s phased development ordinance. According to the ordinance, when an applicant is building between 10 and 20 dwelling units, the project must be phased over the course of four years, with no more than 25 percent of the units being constructed in one year.

Callihan said that because the buildings would be clustered close together, it would be more economical to build them all at once. Rogers agreed, saying, “From a practical standpoint, it’s almost necessary to build them all at once. It really is a bit of a burden to try to break it up.”

The Select Board’s representative on the Planning Board, Roberta Oeser, said she did see a clear issue with requiring that construction continue for several years after the initial units were finished would be burdensome, but said she was not quite convinced that a waiver of the entire phasing ordinance would be appropriate. She suggested allowing the construction of the two six-unit buildings and delaying the construction of the final four-unit building.

Planning Board member Sam Bouchie said that because the construction was expected to take place on such a small lot, requiring a phasing of the project would be burdensome, pointing out that construction would be taking place within one to one and a half acres of the lot.

Rogers suggested the applicant would be amenable to doing major construction such as foundations and walls and roofing, to make all apartments appear complete from the outside, and finishing the interior apartments and issuing occupancy permits over a longer period of time. The preference, he said, would still be for the board to allow for the entire project to be completed at once.

The board decided to defer the decision on the variance request until its next meeting.

On July 1, the board had already approved a variance for the application that allowed reduction of the landscape buffer from 50 feet to 25 feet separating the buildings from roads and abutting properties. Rogers and Callihan questioned if the design included a stone patio area, whether that would be considered landscaping, or if they should submit an updated variance request to allow for a 10- to 15-foot patio or deck space.

The board determined that hardscape was not considered landscaping under the ordinance, and agreed that a new variance would be needed if plans included patio space. Several members of the board commented that while a flat stonework patio extending from the units wouldn’t impact the intent of the ordinance to create space, there was concern that decking or porches could eventually become closed-in sunrooms or eventual occupied spaces.

Rogers told the board a written variance request would be submitted for the board to review at its next meeting.

The board continued the public hearing on the application until Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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