Gutierrez Co. is asking the City Council to extend the business zone deeper into the limited industrial-zoned land off Rte. 20, bordered by Glen and Ames streets. The change would allow for the apartment complexes planned for the eastern part of the site near the Ninety Nine Restaurant.
“The last meetings we had with the neighborhood have been terrific,” attorney David Gadbois, who represents Gutierrez Co., told the Urban Affairs Committee last night. “There’s been real good discussion. We really paid attention to what they were saying.”
Residents hoped for a mixed-use site, said architect John Pears.
The mixed-use plan calls for 300 apartments, shops near Wendy’s and office buildings off Ames Street.
The apartments would likely be higher end, one- and two-bedroom places, said Scott Weiss, project manager for Gutierrez Co. Although the builder is still finding its for-sale, condo-style Overlook at Lake Williams development to be in a depressed market, Weiss said rentals are a different story.
“Marlborough is still a good market for housing,” Weiss said. “It’s a great location. … We would see moving as quickly as you would allow us to move.”
No one spoke out against the proposed zoning change during last Monday’s City Council public hearing, said Ward 7 Councilor Donald Landers. He asked Ward 3 Councilor Matt Elder, who represents the area of the proposed development, for residents’ main concerns.
“I think they’re coming to the realization they know something is going to be developed,” said Elder, who has not received calls about the proposal from concerned neighbors.
But with the area’s drainage troubles often leading to flooding, residents are wary about any development, Elder said. Flooding in a basement recently sparked a house fire in the area.
A large pipe near the Ninety Nine Restaurant has helped with drainage, said Gadbois, who has worked on plans for the site for 10 years, dating back to the days when MetLife owned it.
“We know this has been a contentious site, period,” he said.
Elder said he is also worried about traffic on Rte. 20, especially when residents come home from work.
Compared to shops or offices, apartments would create less traffic, Weiss said.
In response to a concern about access from Glen Street, Ward 6 Councilor Edward Clancy suggested adding a limited industrial zoned buffer around the road. The 50-foot buffer would ensure that residents could not use Glen Street to reach the site.
Although the developer has made a commitment to neighbors that only emergency vehicles could access the site from Glen Street, Gadbois said he would look into the buffer. In the event of a land sale, the buffer would serve as a precautionary measure to prohibit residential access from Glen Street.
Councilor at large Steven Levy read a letter from City Planner Nancy Savoie, who expressed support for the zoning change. Levy, the Urban Affairs Committee chairman, also said he backs the change.
The developer has a public hearing scheduled for Monday with the Planning Board on the zoning change. The Urban Affairs Committee will likely schedule another meeting soon as well.
The developer would request a needed special permit for the apartments if the council OKs the zoning change.
This story orignally appeared here