A Bedford Street homeowner has a couple months to edit his plans for a proposed 11-unit apartment building after both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals voiced deep reservations about the project.
Lam Ngyuen wants to tear down his century-old single-family home and build a three-story apartment building on the 2/3-acre parcel on the corner of Route 18 and West Chapel Street. Nyguen and his family would occupy a three- bedroom unit inside the building; the other 10 units would be one-bedroom units.
Ngyuen agreed to come back to the Planning Board’s Sept. 7 meeting, and the Zoning Board’s Sept. 9 meeting.
The site sits in the town’s Transitional Commercial Zoning District. Multi-family housing is allowed in that district with a special permit issued from the Zoning Board of Appeals, although Zoning Board member Andrew Burbine doubted whether the district is reserved for low-impact commercial development only.
Planning board members, zoning board members, the town’s consulting engineer, and neighbors all identified problems and concerns with the proposal, including water supply issues, the building’s size, lack of buffers, the amount of parking, and traffic.
The site slopes from its northwest corner – along Route 18 – to its southeast corner, which abuts multiple residential backyards. In order to build a 22-vehicle parking lot, the southeast corner would have to be raised and leveled between five and seven feet. The height of the three- story apartment building means the roof line would tower about 37 feet over neighbors’ houses.
Current plans do not include a privacy fence along the lot line – but it does include some trees for screening- leaving residents concerned about headlights shining across their yards and into their homes.
Planning board members pointed out that the plans currently include a 10-foot buffer between the abutting properties; town zoning bylaws require a 20-foot buffer for projects like these.
Neighbors raised concerns about having additional cars on West Chapel Street, which has seen a steady increase in traffic in recent years from drivers using it as a cut through between Rt. 18 and Abington Center.
All three Zoning Board members indicated they would likely not approve the needed permit, but agreed to put off a formal vote until after the Planning Board takes final action on any revised proposal.
The biggest hurdle for the project remains the town’s water crunch. The Abington Rockland Joint Water Works has instituted a freeze on approvals for new water hookups as it studies the systems existing supply and demand numbers. Even if the project receives Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals approval, it can’t receive a building permit until the water works approves water.