Community Board 10 heard a developer’s hardship plea with regards to a vacant parcel in Locust Point last week.
After being rescheduled several times, CB 10’s Housing and Zoning Committee heard the plans for new homes near Hammond Cove on Wednesday, February 25. The developer is listed on documents as John Comer.
The developer indicated his plan is to build 5 two-family homes on Longstreet Avenue where only two homes are allowed under the present zoning. He is seeking a variance.
An attorney presented the committee with the information, with no vote taken. In order to obtain the variance, plans need to be filed before the Board of Standards and Appeals.
If this happens, CB 10 would like to have a public hearing in the Locust Point community, said Ken Kearns, the board’s district manager.
“His central argument is that if he is not allowed to build five houses, he can’t recover his investment, but that is everybody’s argument” said Kearns. “It is not an innovative argument.”
The site, situated so close to the cove that pilings would be required, is along an undeveloped part of Longstreet Avenue between Glennon and Hatting places.
It would require a new street in front of the homes, sewer connections, and would have to comply with city resiliency requirements for new construction near the waterfront.
Since the required infrastructure improvements are substantial he wishes to build more to spread the costs over more homes.
Kearns said that the board viewed the hardship claim with skepticism.
“That is everybody’s argument,” he said. “That is why the Board of Standards and Appeals exist.”
Mary Jane Musano, a meeting attendee who is a Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association board member, said that the surrounding communities are watching this development because they feel it will set a precedent for builders in nearby neighborhoods.
“He is asking for all sorts of variances and I don’t think he deserves any of them,” said Musano, who added she feels the developer should accept the results of his decisions and not ask the community to bail him out.
The plans that were presented at CB 10 seemed identical to those the developer presented to the Locust Point Civic Association late last year, said the organization’s president Joe Donovan. If there were any differences, they were minor, technical details, he said.
“The community board wanted to hear what (the developer) had to say,” he said. “They wanted clarification on the exact variances he is going to be looking for.”
The board was told that multiple variances would be sought, including those for setback and permitted square footage, said Donovan.
“The tone I got is that the board did not seem to have a favorable opinion of the request,” said Donovan, adding he does not see the plan gaining community support, at least in the form it was presented.