20 units on Ridge: Decision in September?

The applicant for a 20-unit affordable housing complex at the corner of Governor Street and Prospect Ridge will have to wait until Sept. 17 to hear the plan’s fate.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted to continue the revised application to a third public hearing after a hour-and-a-half discussion last Tuesday night.

Some of the concerns raised about the 1.02-acre development site were how to build a potential “enhanced” wetland on the property and how to contain it with a drainage system that would ensure the wetland would not expand.

“It looks to me that you’re creating a new wetland,” said George Dinisi of Governor Street. “But, what I want to know is, will this wetland expand west onto my property?”

Mr. Dinisi brought in four sets of photos from December 2010 to March of this year to illustrate the water build up on his property that he says comes from a 16-unit affordable housing development at 76 Governor Street.

“I see the same issues being raised that were raised during the Governor House proposal,” he said. “The discharge from the rain garden on that property flows east to the back of my property.

“My concern is that I’m going to end up being a big sponge in between these two properties.”

Looking at the photos, Mr. Dinisi added that the water build up “happens anytime there’s more than two inches of rain — this is not a one time occurrence.”

John McCoy, the application’s engineer, said that wetlands don’t expand unless there’s a change in hydrology, which the proposal does not request.

“The wetland will stay in that low spot on the northwest corner of the property,” he reassured Mr. Dinisi. “Wetlands can only expand with substantial storm run-off and that’s what our proposal looks at containing.”

Tom Montanari of Prospect Ridge wanted to know the difference between the rain garden at the Governor House and the proposed “wet meadow” at this location.

“A rain garden is a man-made structure and its specific role is to infiltrate rainwater downward to be absorbed into the ground which reduces runoff,” said landscape architect Jane Didona of Didona Associates. “The wet meadow has a different type of functionality. It is a type of wetland that allows a diverse number of plant species to grow  in an area of restricted drainage and that creates a naturally enhanced version of what’s already there.”

Mr. Montanari and some of the commission members expressed concerns about disturbing the natural soils on the property.

Mr. McCoy said the soils would be a wetland mix and that none of the natural soils would be removed.

While the issue over the enhanced wetland took up a large portion of the meeting, Jodie Chase the applicant’s wetland expert, said the existing wetland had “marginal functions” and was “barely a wetland.”

“As of now, it doesn’t meet the criteria of a wetland,” she said.

Dave Cronin, of the Conservation Commission, said, “My main concern is the proposal is not adequate at addressing the important functions of the upland review area. It is designed to buffer and protect the adjacent wetland and neighboring properties.”

He added that the applicant should submit a proposal with an alternative layout that addresses storm-water management in the upland review area.

The application was submitted to the commission on May 7 and had its first public hearing on June 18.

The applicant, Stephen Zemo, had revised the plans based on feedback from the commission’s “peer review” engineering consultant.

The plan calls for a single, four-story building that will have 20 apartment units, six of which will meet the state’s affordable housing law, 8-30 g.

A report accompanying the original application stated that three of the six affordable units would target families at 60% of the state’s median income and three would be for families with incomes between 60% and 80%  of the state’s median income.

More discussion and revision will probably occur in September.

“This is not the final discussion for this application — much of it is subject to revision,” Commissioner John Katz said.

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  • cosmo p

    Where is the moratorium RUDY or is this sacrilegious on your part. The people are getting FED UP with your excuses and denials. Hope it reflects on election DAY!!!

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