Developer Andrew Baldwin is seeking a rezoning to “planned unit development” for a 5.8-acre property north of Quarry Park.
Last week, the Planning Commission recommended denial of the rezoning because of concerns that Baldwin had not shown enough architectural details of the houses that would be built.
“I don’t have enough information to really say this is something I’d like to move forward with,” Commissioner John Santoski said at a public hearing Tuesday.
The commission also denied the rezoning in February. At that time, there was concern that the new neighborhood would only have one vehicular entrance onto Quarry Road.
The land originally was subdivided into lots in the 1890s, but the 34 lots depicted are drawn without taking topography into mind and some are not developable.
Since the council sent the item back to the commission in March, Baldwin has extended Stonehenge Avenue to add a second entrance.
“Certainly, there was a connection intended back when they platted it, but this honestly from my standpoint is the best approach for the site,” Baldwin said.
Additionally, the number of units has been reduced from 29 to 26.
Baldwin also has said that he will build a pedestrian connection between Rockland and Stonehenge avenues, and a connection from the new Stonehenge Avenue Extended to Druid Avenue.
“These paths would be constructed by the developer within the city right-of-way and would be maintained by the parks and recreation department,” said city planner Willy Thompson of the proffers.
About 30 percent of the property would be left as open space.
Thompson recommended the commission approve the rezoning.
“Staff feels the applicant has responded to the concerns about connectivity by creating a vehicle link to the surrounding community, and attempting to replicate the typical Belmont lots while trying to work with the existing topography,” Thompson said.
Marla Ziegler had previously spoken out against the project, but voiced her support before the Planning Commission last week.
“The developer has done a great more work this time and has solved some of the major issues,” Ziegler said.
Michael Henniger, of Druid Avenue, also said he supports the plan.
“Through this process, we’ve gotten to a point where we’ve been able to work in a number of things that make this much better for the neighborhood,” Henniger said.
Two commissioners who had been appointed to work with Baldwin to improve the plan said they support the new version.
“I feel like they’ve made a noble stab at it and I like the improvements that I see,” said Commissioner Kurt Keesecker.
“On a very difficult site, they are making a real effort to address the issues that we made at our last meeting,” said Commissioner Michael Osteen.
However, Commissioner Dan Rosensweig said he was still struggling with the review because he did not feel it was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan’s call for affordable housing units.
“I don’t see any gestures towards that,” Rosensweig said. “It presents more of a suburban pattern of development that is not necessarily coherent or cohesive with Belmont.”
Commissioner Genevieve Keller said she was struggling with the application as well because there were still details missing.
“When I compare it to other PUD requests that we’ve had in recent months, we really don’t have a good idea of what this development will look like,” Keller said. “We don’t know much of the housing types and the architectural styles.”
Baldwin said he did not yet have that information, but that the new homes would fit in with their surroundings.
“We will have three different builders working with very different products,” Baldwin said. “Keep in mind, if you drive through Belmont, especially some of the nicer streets in the neighborhood, you have farm houses next to modern contemporary.”
City Councilor Kathy Galvin said she wanted more information about the size of the units’ garage doors.
“When you’re dealing with a unit that’s trying to fit in with the context of the traditional neighborhood, the scale of the garage doors is a very important matter to take into consideration,
” Galvin said.
“I have not gotten that specific with the builders yet,” Baldwin said. “The specifics of the homes, I cannot go into that detail yet.”
A 3-3 vote on a measure to recommend denial means the commission officially voted against the rezoning.
“I’m moving in the direction of supporting it, but I’m not there yet,” Rosensweig said.