WESTFIELD – The Planning Board will consider a site plan and stormwater management plan submitted by Mercer Island Realty, Inc. of Springfield for a nine-apartment complex on Lockhouse Road, near the intersection of Twiss Street.
The board has slated a public hearing on the petitions at its meeting which will be held tonight at seven in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.
The petitioner is seeking to build the apartment complex, with associated parking on 49,270 square-feet of land, slightly more than one acre. The land was recently rezoned for Residence C uses, which allow a much higher population density.
Prior to that zone change, approved by the City Council this fall, the property was zoned for Residence B use which allows only single family, detached, semi-detached and two family dwellings, both of which allow far lower densities.
The zone change was sponsored by Ward 1 Councilor Christopher Keefe who argued that the zone change would be an economic incentive to redevelop several properties and to bring existing property, such as the abutting Forest Glen Apartments, into compliance with the current zoning codes.
The ordinance states that “Residence C Districts are intended to accommodate the full range of housing types, including single family detached, single family attached, single family semi-detached, two family dwellings and multiple family dwellings at the higher densities appropriate in the established urban neighborhoods. For the purposes of this section only, Project Area is defined as any proposed multi family project containing ten (10) or more units, regardless of the square footage of the site.”
“Right now, there are mostly apartments and multifamily buildings,” Keefe said in June during the zone change discussion. “I’m changing the zoning to catch up with what is already there. It’s an area where you’re not going to get single-family development.”
“It’s an area that is not conducive to development of single family housing,” Keefe said. “There is the (Massachusetts) Turnpike right next to that area, the Twiss Street transfer station and a large volume of truck traffic going through there.”
Keefe said that those factors have a chilling effect on single-family development, demonstrated by the lack of interest in available property, both developed and undeveloped.
Keefe’s zone change motion was amended to include the entire property now being proposed for the nine-apartment project. The Planning Board will review a site plan of the project and not a special permit because the multifamily complex is allowed ion Residence C.
The Site Plan will require Mercer Island Realty, Inc. to provide adequate facilities in terms of safe access, parking, illuminations, as well as complying with required set backs.
Another major consideration of the permit application is stormwater management. Under federal and state law, the property developed cannot discharge more stormwater than under its present condition as a single-family parcel.
To see a map of the property in question, click here.
To see the planning board meeting, click here.