Last night the Zoning Board of Appeals denied the application to build a residential apartment building at 18 Cedar Street.
The Board was divided on the decision, with three members voting for and two against. Per the town bylaws, to receive a variance requires at least 4 members voting in the affirmative.
The owner, Janice Brown had asked for the zoning variance to build a 6-unit apartment building. This was Ms. Brown’s second attempt to build on the lot; in 2019 her permit to construct an 8-unit apartment building was denied.
During the public discussion, Chair John Coutino spoke in support of the plan, noting his desire to balance the needs of the neighbors as well as the need of the town to increase affordable housing. He also noted that the current zoning would allow the owner to build a four unit complex on the site.
Board Member Michael Riley dissented, saying that while the plan looks good, it’s a “really tight squeeze” given the lot size. He asked Ms. Brown if she had considered building a 4-unit complex instead. Ms. Brown explained that to reduce the plan to four units would necessitate more parking spaces and more bedrooms, which could make a detrimental impact on the area.
Board Member James Burton stated that the plan does not work as constituted. Mr. Riley concurred, saying he would have liked to have seen more information on low income housing in the plan.
Tory & Doug Sulser, who reside at 14 Cedar Street, were concerned that the plan was “too aggressive for unit count” for the area. It would make the area too transient and they would like to see people move in to the community that are there to stay. They proposed a single family home instead.
Other residents expressed concern about the lack of parking around the area and the impact to current residents. Still more had concerns about the privacy issues of having a 6-unit apartment on a lot of that size near their houses, and the increase in neighborhood traffic.
Ms. Brown said her plan tried to respond to the town’s stated desire to have more affordable housing in Hopkinton.
This was the second setback the project experienced this week. On Tuesday night, Ms. Brown faced the Historical Commission, who voted to place an 18-month halt on the project, and stated their desire that Ms. Brown preserve the existing building.