By Carol McCracken
In what has been yet another polarizing issue for this community, the City’s Planning Board unanimously approved the plans of the Waterville Triad LLC to build a 3-unit condominium building on a vacant lot at 29 Waterville Street on the Hill. For the past 30 years or more, the lot has been used for off street parking for residents in the area – where off street parking is worth its weight in gold.
Developer Peter Bass and arachitect David Lloyd presented an overview of the project to four members of the planning board and a full City Hall conference room last night. (One member was absent and the other recused himself.) As part of that presentation Bass and Lloyd addressed areas about which residents had expressed concerns. The Waterville Triad LLC made efforts to comply with some of these concerns. But not enough to satisfy area residents.
Two abutting property owners, in sophisticated presentations, made their cases to the planning board, as to why the project did not meet the standards required for the construction of this development. (THere are three such standards.) The two abutting property owners using enlarged photographs demonstrated why they believe the project is not “compatible with” nor “enhances the existing residential neighborhood” – part of the three standards referred to previously. But not sufficiently to convinece the planning board members. The two abutting neighbors are long-time Waterville Street resident Mary Casale and St. Lawrence Street residents Betsy Elliman. Their properties about each other as well as the 29 Waterville Street project.
While the Waterville Triad project complies with height and other ordinance requirements, apparently the group of three families were taking no chance on loosing this battle. Testifying on behalf of the developer was prominent architect and 23 St. Lawrence Street resident, Rob Whitten. Cyrus Hagge, new Hill resident and developer as well spoke in favor of the project. ( Hagge’s new home on Turner Street has been cited for fitting in with the architecture of the Hill.) Barbara Vestal, a Hill resident and attorney, is the group’s lawyer.
In closing, chairman of the planning board, David Silk, addressed the residents of the neighborhood and said” “You are not alone. I assure you that if this change were in my neighborhood, I’d be upset as well. They’ve complied with everything and have asked for no waivers or variances in return.”