Update: Richmond Planning Board Meeting 5/25
McIntosh Appeal Remanded to Planning Board for Hearing; Conditional Approval Granted.
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
RICHMOND — Members of the Planning Board agreed Tuesday at a remote public hearing to grant conditional approval the master plan for a housing development at 3 Carolina Nooseneck Road. (The master plan is the first stage of the approval process.) Submitted by William McIntosh IV, the proposal consists of six market-priced and two affordable housing units. The board denied the application in April 2020, citing its incompatibility with the town’s comprehensive plan. McIntosh appealed the decision to the State Housing Appeals Board, or SHAB, which remanded the application to the Planning Board.
Town Planner Shaun Lacey explained the configuration of the buildings on the lot, which also fronts Route 138. “The eight dwelling units are broken down into two, single family residential structures along with two triplex structures that will be sold as condominiums,” he said. “The project also subdivides the existing four and a half - acre parcel into three different lots.”
A log cabin which is already on the property will serve as one of the two affordable units, with the second unit in one of the triplexes. Project engineer Pat Walker shared a plan of the project, and landscape architect Mark Butler described the plants that would be added to replace those lost during construction and provide screening at the busy intersection, for both residents and passing motorists. “We feel that we’ve done a great job at providing supplemental plantings for the benefit of the development, the developer, the town, and anyone traveling up and down 138, and preserving the native forest that currently exists on the site,” he said.
The attorney representing the developer said that after reading Lacey’s report, he felt he needed to remind the board that while the town’s updated comprehensive plan has been submitted to the state for approval, until it is approved, the old, or current plan was still in effect. “It’s important that the board members understand that presently, until it’s approved by the state, there is no new comprehensive plan,” Michael Resnick said. “Moreover, it is the comprehensive plan that was in place at the time of the application.”
Resnick noted that because the application was remanded to the board, it was “inappropriate” to cite the new comprehensive plan, which has not yet been approved. “There is nothing to suggest that this project is not in conformance with that comprehensive plan or is otherwise not in conformance with local regulations,” he said.
Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth agreed with Resnick that the old comprehensive plan would apply to this project. “The old comp plan applies to the application, because it was filed under the old comp plan,” she said.
Some board members expressed concerns about whether there was sufficient water at the site to supply eight dwellings without impacting neighbors’ wells. “We’re talking the hydrogeological study, and then whether or not there’s going to be proper, sufficient water sources for this property and existing, current landowners,” Daniel Madnick said. “So I for one look forward to reviewing that documentation when we get it at prelim [preliminary] plan. ”Board member Nancy Hess said she wanted to see the results of a test to determine how much water was available on the site.
“Based on the fact that previous information submitted was generic and inconclusive to establish a yield for wells for the project and whether or not there would be negative or no impact on neighbors, I suggest a revised hydrogeolic analysis be done that includes a 24-hour pump yield test, conducted during seasonal ground water lows and translating the results into projected gallons per minute for each well on the existing site,” she said.
During the public comment period, two neighboring property owners said they worried about the water supply, with one homeowner describing his water pressure as already low. Board chair Philip Damicis said he wanted more detailed information about the landscape plan, and asked Butler to prepare a drawing of what it would look like. “If you put together a rendering that takes away all of the foliage, the landscaping that’s in the right of way, get rid of that, and show us what will be remaining and what will be there with your new landscaping,” he said. Damicis also wanted to know whether the buildings could be shifted further to the West so the units would have larger back yards, but Walker said moving the buildings would impact other components of the development, such as driveways and septic systems. “I still think you could have had a much better design and you could have minimized the impact on the surrounding land uses and not only that, you would have had a more attractive housing development,” Damicis said. “I think it’s a poor design, quite honestly.”
The board asked Lacey to draft a final report which members would consider when the hearing continues on June 8, however, Resnick requested an immediate initial approval of the master plan.
“I would request a vote this evening,” he said. “Again, SHAB has retained jurisdiction of this and I would request that there be a vote taken.” Ellsworth explained, “You would be voting on a motion to approve, subject to approval of the written decision on June 8,” she said. “There’s a motion pending before SHAB and they want an answer by, I think, the end of this week, on whether it’s going to be withdrawn.” Several board members said they were confused by the request and asked Resnick to explain why an immediate vote was necessary. “It’s just a procedural mechanism where I needed to preserve the opportunity that these issues could be resolved by the state board as opposed to this local board, and during the process, Karen [Ellsworth] and I discussed that because of the way things were going and because of the way our future before this board with respect to preliminary and final approval and potentially other projects that we would hold it in abeyance and withdraw it when appropriate,” he said. That withdrawal, Resnick added, had to be submitted this week.
The board voted unanimously to grant conditional approval to the master plan, subject to the approval on June 8 of a full, written decision.
Cynthia Drummond firstname.lastname@example.org
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