May 24, 2018

Affordable housing project changes approved

Debra Bell of Trudell Consulting Engineers responds to a question from the audience during a Development Review Board hearing concerning the Atwood-Hood affordable housing project. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The Williston Development Review Board agreed Tuesday to allow changes to a previously approved discretionary permit for an affordable housing project off North Williston Road.

The Atwood-Hood project, a collaboration between developer Jeff Atwood and landowners Dana and Brenda Hood, received final site plan approval from the DRB on April 10 for a nine-unit residential development comprised of a combination of single-family, duplex and triplex dwellings.

However, in an effort to cut construction costs, the applicants requested a realignment of the units, arguing at the DRB’s Oct. 9 meeting that the requested changes were “minor” and thus could be approved administratively through the Williston Planning and Zoning Department.

At the Oct. 9 meeting, it was unclear whether the proposed changes to site work affected less than 1,000 square feet, which is the cutoff between “minor” and “substantial” changes in the Williston Unified Development Bylaw. Any substantial change would require the applicant to begin the discretionary permit process anew.

On Tuesday, Dana Hood and consultant Debra Bell of Trudell Consulting Engineers illustrated to the DRB that the changes were less than the 1,000-square-foot threshold. They noted that they were forced to eliminate a planned garage from one of the single-family dwelling units to avoid going over the 1,000-square-foot limit, although garages will remain for six of the nine units.

Despite the elimination of one of the garages, DRB Vice Chairman John Bendzunas expressed his overall preference for the amended plans, which added garages to the triplex building.

“With the garages, it seems to be an improvement,” Bendzunas said.

Bell agreed.

“We think so. People are looking for a place to put their items, whether it’s kids’ toys or a barbecue grill or snow shovels or what have you,” Bell said. “We thought it was an improvement and came back to ask the board to reconsider it.”

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