Controversial Zone Change for Hill on Planning Board Agenda; 11/25/14

Vietnam "Tube" Housing That Would be Permitted If New Zoning Changes are Made.

Vietnam “Tube” Housing That Would “Technically” be Permitted on Munjoy Hill and Elsewhere If New Zoning Changes are Adopted by the City.  (Photo Contributed by Pam Jack, Friends of Sumner Court.)

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 2,238)

Controversial changes to the R-6 Residential Zone that would have a negative impact on Munjoy Hill should the city adopt them, will be considered at a planning board meeting Tuesday, November 25, at 4:30 pm at city hall.  Public comment will be taken.

The planning and urban development department, represented by Jeff Levine, its director, is proposing dramatic changes to increase housing density on the Hill while eliminating parking requirements for developments.  These changes are proposed in an area that is already densely populated and where parking is increasingly a concern.  In fact, the proposed parking relaxation has been the most controversial of the changes for many. Among the changes proposed by Levine is increasing 36 units per acre to 60 units per acre, reducing setbacks from 10 ft. to 5 ft. and the elimination of parking for the first three units of any future development.

For Paula Agopian, long-time homeowner on Munjoy Hill, parking is her largest concern. “Parking requirements should not be relaxed and parking permits should be a consideration for residents of the Hill,” she said in a telephone conversation today. Other critics say the process has moved too quickly and lacks feed back from the neighborhoods affected by these changes. Despite neighborhood meetings this summer, they were not well advertised.  Pam Jack, of the Friends of Sumner Court, is opposed to the changed setbacks which could “technically” lead to “Tube” housing used in Vietnam and shown in the above left picture.  (The Friends was organized over concerns about development plans by the controversial Ron Gan on Sumner Court.)

“Lot sizes could be smaller and under the proposed rules, I would be able to add three units to my two-unit house and all the cars for those new units would park on the street.  Many of my neighbors could do the same, creating a substantial parking problem on our block,” said Nini McManamy, a Munjoy Hill homeowner. McManamy was the organizer of a recent meeting on the Hill to discuss the consequences of these changes if adopted. “Have your say and join us at the Planning Board.”

Although Munjoy Hill is considered  a “hot spot” for development, two prominent condo developments on the top of the Hill are finding sales to be slower than one would expect for this allegedly desirable location.  Has the condo bubble burst already?

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