Oakwood Heights at CAR

12/18/2007 6:20 PM by

Today’s CAR meeting went off to a packed room. I came in just after 4PM into an ongoing meeting and 6 members of the CAR at a table in a horshoe around a podium and a screen & projector.

A few smaller issues were discussed and resolved or not, and then last on the agenda was a discussion of the proposed Oakwood Heights condo development. The commitee was being asked to consider 2 things today: to review the relocation of the lone house on Broad Street, and the construction of the condominiums.

This particular piece of the meeting began with Ryan Ramsey presenting an update on the status of the POD. He stated that they’d seen no definitive materials or colors for the elevations. The POD is “pretty good”, though, as far as zoning goes; there are some outstanding issues with permits and public works, uses of/plans for for alley. The Fire Deptartment is ok with access. Lacking definitative comments, transportation seems to be ok. The area is zoned R-53.

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Tyler Potterfield then spoke to the criteria/guidelines for moving the lonely house on Broad Street. He stated that this was possibly the first relocation request the commission has received, and that the criteria seems to be met. Matt Elmes, chair of the CAR, pointed out that moving the house removes last example of original vernacular at the end of the block, pointing out that Jefferson Mews worked around existing houses.

In response, Spenser Dryser (of Baskerville Architects), speaking for the applicant, replied that “it’s not infill if it is the last house left”. He said that they’d considered end-capping the development with the house, but “once it is moved, it is moved”. He described moving the house to the next block as filling a hole and allowing for a new construction that can more readily meet CAR guidelines.

Tyler Potterfield introduced the more complex issue, the new contruction of the condos, asking “Is the proposal compatible with neighborhood? How is this to be interpreted?” The proposal is of a development of attached housing, but at a higher density (allowed by current zoning), and a detached affect can be attained.

Spencer Dryser & (guy whose name I did not get) from Fulton Hill Properties spoke to new construction: parking is under structures, off of Broad and Marshall; trash and parking pushed back under structures; scale, height, massing to match neighborhood; trying to foster density but to mask, set up as rowhouses; looking at sustaintable issues, as model for fitting and being low use on resources (parking, run-off).

This was followed by a process of wrangling to make sense of the elevations, clarification questions about grade and fences and yards.

Matt Elmes pointed out that it would be helpful to see more detail than presented (for widows, handrails, materials). This was echoed later, with CAR members saying that final approval would be very difficult without a more specific materials list; need more materials descriptions, more elevations; show building in context of street; maybe a model. It sounded like they may not be able to provide even a conceptual approval with out more detail, more views related to context.

The floor was then opened up for public comment. One person, Frank Wood, stood in favor of the development. Wood identified hinself as the man that sold the property to Margaret. He declared that the house to be moved is not significant, and had seen dubious renovation “about 20 years ago”. He owns property adjacent, and sees the development as a bonus.

The bulk of the rest of the room indicated that they were opposed to the development:

  • Neighbors for Compatible Development; spoke to traffic, curb cuts, the development in much detail; neighbors feel cut out of the process; need to maintain historic integrity.
  • It sets a bad precedent to be moving houses around. (ELMES: We consider every case individually, do not set precent).
  • Jim Daab, president of the CHA: Until 2 weeks ago, neighborhood association had no idea that this was in the works. Every other development has tried to meet beforehand, “people in the neighborhood feel like they are being railroaded”.
  • People on the block have had the same landscape for 50 years.
  • They are asking for 4 new driveway cuts? also — the house that could be moved is an identical “sister” house to the 4 across the street. Again, the developer has not tried to work with the neighborhood. Parking *will* be a problem.
  • What was the original intent of the CAR guidelines? Respect historic layout, as this is what original infrastructire was designed for. You can not overlook the macrodetail of the layout of the community. Can we all put condos in our backyards? Developer has abused the process…
  • The city’s Master Plan calls for single family housing in the area. The current zoning is archaic, and the developer is taking advantage of the “stale zoning” in trying to get this approved before the zoning changes.

After public discussion closed, the CAR board discussed the issues amongst themselves, with much of the discussion being focussed on the moving of the house. Individual members declared that they have issues with the project’s density and appropriateness; others have no issues with the hight/density and stand by the current zoning. The design itself, it’s lack of detail, and perceived vehicular-centric design were at issue.

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