By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,166)
What could have and might have been a course collision between mostly home owners in the East Bayside neighborhood and a developer’s proposal to transform the corner of Fox and Anderson Streets into a market-rate apartment building, was averted last night at the city’s planning board meeting when the two groups found common ground. Although the common ground wasn’t realized until late in the deliberations on whether or not to change the zoning from an R-6 zone to a B2B zone change or consider an alternative.
Developer Jonathan Culley, Redfern Properties, appeared at his first workshop before the planning board to present his plans for an up to 53-units of high-density rental housing on the site of 3G’s Tire and Auto Service. The units would include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom because that is where the demand is most prevalent Cullley told the planning board members. The average cost for a one-bedroom unit would be $1,200. The justification for a zone change, Culley said, is to permit a business on the first floor, most likely a restaurant. There are other businesses in the area, so this would fit into the neighborhood nicely. “This land presents an interesting opportunity to do something different – less industrial and more residential,” he said.
However, about a dozen neighbors from the area attended the workshop and most of them were opposed to the zone change that would permit a business on the first floor because of the traffic snarls that would follow. Ellen Bailey, was one of the more outspoken neighbors on the subject. She expressed concern about the planned truck traffic that could result if Nova Star is permitted to run its supply trucks back and forth to the waterfront and the cruise ship often docked at Ocean Gateway. Munjoy Hill and landlord resident Karen Snyder wanted the zoning left at R-6 because “it respects the rest of the neighborhood. This zoning change will wipe out most of the middle-income people in the area. Does this support middle-income neighbors?” she asked. Other speakers agreed with her. However, the subject of affordability and future tax rates are not under the purview of the planning board Chair Stuart O’Brion explained. “The developer is not required to discuss rental rates,” he said.
Planning board member Bill Hall asked Culley: “Do we have to rezone this? Is rezoning a compelling need? I’d like to see a community vision here because there is pressure for development in this area right now. Other board members concurred. Chair O’Brion asked about a change from R-6 to R-7 zoning. Culley responded: “That is compatible for me. I don’t need a commercial space on the ground floor. I was persuaded that would be a preferable zone for the planning board.”
It is expected that if all the permits are approved, construction of 89 Anderson Street could start in the spring of 2015. It’s a ten month construction timeline.
Elaine Bailey and others (not all) left city hall smiling.
A second workshop on this project will be held for further refinements. Cullely is also the developer for the West End Place and Munjoy Heights.