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Zone Change Approved at Chapman Beach

Published 07/30/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 07/30/2014 10:07 AM

By Becky Coffey
Harbor News

WESTBROOK - After nearly two hours of deliberation, the Zoning Commission voted 4 to 1 to change 1961 Boston Post Road from a neighborhood commercial to a planned residential development zone, paving the way for multi-family housing for a group of independent VISTA clients.

"The commission engaged in a deliberative and thoughtful discussion of the zone change application and in the end, decided it was an appropriate landing of a PRDD," said Chairman Tony Marino.

For the zone change to win approval, at least four commissioners had to vote in favor of the proposal. That is because the property's neighbors filed a petition protesting the zone change. Once the names on the petition were certified, it changed the threshold for approval of the zone change from simple majority to super-majority.

After the zone change vote, one commissioner left the meeting. A Zoning Commission alternate had to be seated as a voting commissioner for the rest of the meeting.

The next commission vote, to approve a special permit application for a 24-unit multi-family residential development at 1961 Boston Post Road, was approved by a margin of five votes to zero.

Vista Vocational and Life Skills Center Executive Director Helen Bosch had said previously that the future residents of the condominium facility will be VISTA clients deemed capable of living independently in the community. She confirmed that VISTA would provide support services to the residents who will live there.

Since the future residents generally use the bus to access services and to get to their jobs, the project application includes putting a 9-Town Transit bus stop on the applicant's property on the south side of Route One at 1961 Boston Post Road.

As a condition of commission approval of the special permit, for safety reasons, the members voted to require the applicant to add a second bus stop on the north side of the Boston Post Road connected by crosswalk to the property at 1961 on the south side. Though it is an offsite condition, the commission indicated the priority they place on its fulfillment by requiring it be in place before a building permit is issued.

At a prior public hearing, Joe Comerford of 9-Town Transit said that he would seek state funds to build a bus stop on the Post Road's north side in the state's road-right-of-way. The town's Land Use Department also agreed to support 9-Town Transit with engineering support and assistance with preparing a wetlands application for the north side bus stop.

Since the public hearing on the property's zone change and special permit was closed, neighbors and residents did not have the opportunity to comment at last week's meeting on the applications.

Many comments had been offered by community members and residents at two prior commission meetings when the public hearing on the applications was open. Most views expressed by the property's nearby neighbors and beach association members were in opposition to the zone change.

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