12-unit townhouse project proposed on Seaside Avenue

In presenting a plan for a 12-unit townhouse project at 178 Seaside Ave., Attorney Thomas Lynch said such apartments are in demand, and the location is suitable because it is close to downtown.

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) conducted a June 6 hearing on the project, with the hearing continuing to the board’s June 20 meeting.

Lynch filed the application on behalf of GAMS LLC, which owns the 0.76-acre property in the R-12.5 zone, which permits only single-family houses. Lynch said the project involved three applications: One for a special permit, another for site plan approval, and a third for Coastal Area Management site plan approval.

Lynch said there would be four buildings with three units each, and each building would have an apartment designated for rent at affordable rates. The units would be a townhouse style with a garage on the first level, and a two-story, one-bedroom unit occupying 910 feet of space. They would be 30 feet tall, which is shorter than the 35 feet tall permitted in the zone.

Based on the area’s $91,600 median income, two units would rent for $911 per month to people earning up to 60% of the area’s median income, and two units would rent for $1,150 to people earning up to 80% of the area’s median income, said Lynch.

The 8-30g law supersedes local zoning regulations, allowing the construction of multi-unit housing in single-family zones. To prevail in court, the P&Z has to prove the project poses a hazard to public health, safety or welfare, a threat that outweighs the need for affordable housing. The P&Z has not convinced the court that any 8-30g project it has denied or modified posed such a threat.

“There is nothing in this application we are presenting tonight that will negatively affect the public health and safety,” said Lynch.

GAMS LLC lists Angelo Lisi, Gregory W. Field, Michael Field, and Seann Lisi of Milford as members. The LLC was formed on Aug. 12, 2016. Angelo Lisi and Gregory Field constructed the 22-unit 8-30g project at 14-26 Gulf St.

Lynch said the units that have already been constructed on Gulf Street are fully rented, indicating the demand for such apartments. He said they appeal to people starting out in their first job, earning $50,000 to $60,000.

“This project will be developed in the same manner,” said Lynch.

Lynch said the property has “a dilapidated, single-family house that is in a total state of disrepair.” He said the area is “a mixed bag of zoning.”

Lynch said the property is four-tenths of a mile from the Milford Green and train station, and said it is located in the downtown area. He said the plan thus meets the standard of the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development, encouraging the development of multi-family housing in the downtown area. These units would help support and retain shops in the downtown area, said Lynch.

Ronald Wassmer, professional engineer, said each unit would also have a parking space in front of the garage. The project has a total of 27 parking spaces.

Wassmer said stormwater would be contained onsite in an underground storage system. The system would have 11,300 cubic feet of capacity, allowing it to process a 25-year storm in which 5.6 inches of rain falls in a 24-hour period. Water would drain from the system into the soil.

Board member Richard Lutz questioned if the design would result in flooding the basement of the house to the south of the property at 170 Seaside Ave., saying rainfall is currently distributed to the entire property. In response to Lutz’s question, Wassmer said the property would have 74% impervious surface cover.

Wassmer said the design would prevent any flooding to neighboring properties. In response to other questions, Wassmer said there is adequate room on the property to place plowed snow, and if there is a significant snowfall, it could be removed from the property.

Traffic engineer David Spear said the posted speed limit in front of the property is 25 miles per hour, but his study showed the average speed is 34-35 mph. Based on the 35 mph speed, Spear said driveway sightlines need to be 390 feet, and the actual distance is greater than 450 feet.

From 2014-2016, Spear said there were only two documented motor vehicle accidents, and both were caused by driver error and resulted in only property damage.

Spear said Seaside Avenue has a capacity of 2,700 vehicles per hour, but traffic rates are 220 vehicles in the peak morning hour, and 400 vehicles in the peak evening hour. He said this project would generate nine morning peak hour, and 11 afternoon peak hour trips.

“These volumes are extremely small,” said Spear, commenting that a project of this size would not normally require a traffic study, but due to the controversial nature of 8-30g projects, this application includes a traffic study.

Board member Thomas Nichol questioned if there is sufficient room for the refuse truck to turn around in the parking lot. Nichol also said the outriggers on the fire trucks would go through the galleys in the underground storm system.

In response, Lynch said there would be sufficient room for the refuse truck because it would not be moving with the dumpster on it. Wassmer said the pavement would support the outriggers on the fire truck.

The 1,500 square foot single-family home on the parcel was constructed in 1915. This project is located about a tenth of a mile south of a similar project, one that involves adding eight cottages to the rear of the property at 214-224 Seaside Avenue, while renovating the home at 214 Seaside Ave.