2014-02-21 / Front Page

Developer gets zoning change for 2.5-acre lot

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

The Eastern Village subdivision may be moving closer to the Westwood Avenue neighborhood, but residents in the area are hoping traffic from the development does not traverse past their homes.

Kerry Anderson, the developer of Eastern Village, is looking to develop a 2.5-acre piece of property he recently purchased at 38 Westwood Ave.

Anderson was before the Town Council last week to request the zoning on the property, which abuts the Eastern Village, be changed from the residential 4 zone to the traditional neighborhood development (TND) zone. The Eastern Village property is in the TND zone.

The Town Council voted 4-1 to approve the zoning request. Councilor Jim Benedict voted against it and Councilors Bill Donovan and Kate St. Clair were absent.

Town Planner Dan Bacon said making the change on the Westwood Avenue property would allow Anderson more flexibility and creativity in developing the site.

Unlike the residential 4 zone, the TND zone requires granite curbing, five-foot sidewalks, street trees and some sort of green space.

“The great thing about the TND is it allows us so much more flexibility to create something nice. The R4 is so straightforward,” Anderson said.

Bacon said the design of the development at 38 Westwood Ave. will have to be reviewed and vetted by the Planning Board, just like other subdivision projects are.

“This is just the beginning of the process in terms if what the development looks like,” Bacon said.

Anderson said the TND allows him to create what he envisions for the section of town.

“It allows us to build a neighborhood reminiscent of what you would have seen 100 years ago,” Anderson said.

Residents who live close to the property worry that when the property gets developed, Westwood Avenue would become an entrance and exit from Eastern Village.

Stephanie Ruel, who lives on Fairfield Road, said she doesn’t feel her street, Westwood Avenue and Libby Street should “be asked to bear the burden of increased traffic.”

Ruel said the neighborhood is already used to bypass the Oak Hill intersection.

“There is already too much traffic in a small area,” she said. “The bad planning needs to stop.”

It is a concern shared by Jon Cahill, who has lived on Westwood Avenue for 40 years. Cahill said providing a connection from the Eastern Village to Route 1 would “pretty much destroy the neighborhood.”

“My main concern is we maintain the integrity of what really is a nice neighborhood for all the people who have lived there all these years,” Cahill said.

Ruel and Cahill’s concerns resonated with Town Councilors Jean-Marie Caterina and Ed Blaise.

“I share the concerns of the people (who spoke). I have spent time in that neighborhood. I have sold properties in that neighborhood,” said Caterina, a real estate agent with the Caterina MacLean Group.

“My concern is with the people that live on Westwood,” Blaise said. “They need to be protected.”

Anderson said that is he does not intend to use Westwood Avenue to access the Eastern Village.

Back in 2005, when planning for Eastern Village began, Anderson said he spoke with the Planning Board about access to and from the development. It was determined at that time that Commerce Drive, Eastern Road and Ward Street would be used. The board, he said, told him they would prefer he didn’t use Westwood Avenue.

Currently Eastern Village is accessed by Commerce Drive, but as the development of the subdivision continues, Eastern Road and Ward Street will also be used. Anderson said right now Ward Street, which has a traffic light at the end of it, is used for heavy equipment traffic.

Anderson said he does not intend to use Westwood Avenue to access the property in question or the rest of the Eastern Village.

“We don’t care to use Westwood Avenue, we have plenty of ways into the development right now,” he said.

Anderson said the Westwood Avenue site will be a nice companion to the Eastern Village.

“We are building something that is unique, that is special. The people who live there, as soon as they see the neighborhood, they know it is the place they want to be,” Anderson said.

Council Chairman Richard Sullivan, who lives a mile from the site of the zone change, is optimistic about what Anderson could do with the property.

“If it is anything like the neighborhood he is building, it will fit in nicely,” Sullivan said.

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