Neighbors oppose subdivision plan for Chatham arson site
Updated 3:42 pm, Friday, May 4, 2012
A proposed three-lot residential subdivision on Chatham Road is facing opposition from neighbors calling themselves the Chatham Coalition.
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission has scheduled a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, in McKinley School, 60 Thompson St., to hear the application filed by 50 Development LLC for the property, which was the site of two set fires last year.
"Our neighborhood fears the worst," a release sent by Camy Deck, a spokesman for the coalition, said. "We do not want a `Levittown, Long Island'-type development with cookie-cutter properties built."
James Walsh, the lawyer for the applicant, said the subdivision application conforms with the zoning regulations.
"They are conforming lots," Walsh said, adding that no variances are required.
The Chatham property is 0.92 acres and was the site of a single-family home built in 1955, part of a subdivision in 1948.
The structure was recently demolished after being extensively damaged by arson.
The dwelling was one of several in town damaged in a series of fires set by Valley Road resident Christopher Message, who pleaded guilty to the crimes last month.
The property consisted of three lots that were combined to build the former house, and has been expanded to add another 0.43 acres bringing the total square footage of the lot to 42,009. Under zoning regulations, in an R-2 zone, a residential lot must be at least 14,000 square feet.
Deck said she is not aware of any meetings between the developer and neighbors other than a "brief introduction and overview meet-and-greet" at the property in February.
The coalition members say they do not want to see their property values reduced by "overdevelopment in our neighborhood," according to Deck's statement. "We do not want a mini-development built in our neighborhood."
The coaltion cites concerns of increased traffic and flooding that it contends could result from the project.
Pond Street resident Jason Gandt, in an email, said the application will create a development that will "not jibe, nor harmonize with the existing character and neighborhood fabric. ... This appears to be a money/land grab, and basically celebrates the arsonist."
The street has currently has 12 homes -- four split-levels, four ranches, one cape and two colonials.
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