September 20, 2018

DRB endorses 31-unit apartment building

An architectural rendering of a 31-unit apartment building proposed for the corner of Day and Knight lanes.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

One of the most densely populated areas of Williston is on track for an influx of about 50 residents after the Development Review Board gave preliminary approval to a new apartment building on Day Lane during its Aug. 28 meeting.

Village Associates, which built The Hamlet apartments nearby, plans to construct a three-story building with 31 one-bedroom and studio units at the corner of Day and Knight lanes. The building would be situated across a parking lot from the Chelsea Commons condominiums.

A handful of Chelsea Commons residents predicted negative consequences for the neighborhood.

“When I see something like this popped in somewhere it doesn’t fit and it starts to make the whole look of everything seem crowded, it’s rather disappointing,” Chelsea Commons resident Alison Barges said.

The building is slated to be built where two building foundations are abandoned under a former plan for a commercial building on the property.

The plan includes new sidewalks and outdoor lighting as well as street striping on Day Lane to delineate parking spaces.

Chelsea Commons residents who spoke at the hearing are most concerned with a potential parking squeeze. Under a shared parking plan, the board allowed the developer to count existing spaces outside nearby commercial buildings (including a parking lot in front of Jazzercise), as well as street parking on Day Lane to fulfill the building’s parking space requirement — and limit impervious surfaces.

“The guiding principle is to use existing parking spaces in an efficient way so we don’t have a sea of parking when we don’t need it,” board member Peter Kelley said.

Paul O’Leary, an engineer representing Village Associates, said the availability of parking in the existing commercial lots would mesh well with parking demand from residents. Businesses generally need parking during the day, he explained, while residents need it at night.

“Almost any time of the day you go through there, there are a lot of spaces,” O’Leary said.

Jazzercise, however, operates outside regular business hours, with evening and weekend classes. Also, parking on Day Lane is subject to the town’s night-time winter parking ban.

Chelsea Commons resident Jim Thornton said the street parking currently used by Chelsea Commons residents will be the preferred option for new residents because it is closer than most of the commercial parking spaces.

“I’m very concerned about losing our parking,” he said. “People are going to go to the closest parking spot they can find.”

Brett Grabowski of Village Associates said a shared parking plan was used for approval of The Hamlet apartment building. Also, according to Planning Director Matt Boulanger, Maple Tree Place also uses a shared parking plan in an effort to reduce surface paving.

Barges expanded her criticism of the proposal beyond parking, saying the new building will block views, decrease green space and increase dog waste.

The board’s approval was unanimous. Boar chairman Scott Rieley recused himself from the hearing and vote citing a financial interest in the project. The approval allows Village Associates to proceed with a future final plan submittal to the board.

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