Government & Politics

Pierce Street Duplex Variance Approved

cityhall21111On Tuesday, May 20, The City of Milford Planning Commission approved a request from Matthew and Jennifer Feindt for several variances on a lot located on the corner of Pierce Street and Northeast Second Street. The Feindt’s plan to build a duplex at the location.

According to City of Milford Municipal Code, the proposed duplex did not meet the required setback of 30 feet. In addition, code requires corner lots to have an area of 6,500. Documents provided to the Planning Commission indicated that the duplex would have a setback of 18.5 feet, 11.5 feet less than required by code, and the area of the lot was 6,068 feet.

“I have looked at the existing home and the adjoining home,” said Scott Atkinson of Davis, Bowen & Friedel, who reviewed the project for the City of Milford. “I reviewed the plans and found some items that need to be addressed.” Mr. Atkinson’s recommendations included some minor adjustments that needed to be made in the drawings as well as remarks regarding the setbacks and lot area. In addition, Mr. Atkinson noted that parking spaces must be setback 15 feet from any street line.

Mr. Atkinson noted that the existing home on the property had a setback of just over ten feet, which was less than what was being proposed for the current building.

“This new building would benefit the neighborhood,” said Robert Nash, the engineer who developed the drawings for the Feindt’s. “Because this is a corner lot, the setbacks are the same for both Pierce Street and Northeast Front Street. If we moved the building further from Pierce Street, we were then too close to Front Street.” Mr. Nash also explained that there was no problem making the adjustments for parking to meet the requirements of the city.

City Solicitor, David Rutt, asked several questions that could have an effect on the approval of the project, including whether there were duplexes in the area, whether there was a need for this type of housing and whether it would detract from other buildings in the neighborhood.

“There are no duplexes in the immediate neighborhood, but there are in adjoining areas,” Mr. Nash explained. “This building would not detract from other buildings and could actually improve the area. We believe there is a need for this type of housing as we understand rentals are difficult to find in Milford.”

Mr. Atkinson pointed out that the duplexes must be separately owned and that the Feindt’s could not use them as rental property. Mr. Nash explained that the Feindt’s intended to sell each unit, but that those owners could then choose to rent them.

The request for both the setback and lot area variance were approved by the Planning Commission. Commissioner Marvin Sharp abstained from the vote due to a personal relationship with the Feindt’s. Commissioner Rae Mims was the only dissenting vote, stating that she did not feel comfortable with the setback issue and that she did not feel the real estate market could support such a project.

On Thursday, May 22, a public hearing was held before the Board of Adjustments for the project. It was discovered at that meeting that an additional variance would be necessary for Northeast Front Street as the location was a corner lot. In order to address the oversight, the board agreed to review the information, and, if in agreement, refer the additional setback request back to the Planning Commission before the matter was presented to City Council.

“Our concerns with the project are property values and aesthetics,” said Wayne Summers who was representing neighbors in the area. “We would like to see the drawings to be sure that the new building will not block views. Is it possible to push the building back further on the lot?” Mr. Nash explained that because this was a corner lot, they were limited in where it could be placed, as it fronted both Front and Pierce Streets. He also stated that the new building would actually open up the area, as the former home was located only ten feet from the road.

Mr. Rutt explained that if the project was approved, neighbors had the right to appeal by submitting a verified petition to Kent County Superior Court, as the board would be voting on the matter that day. Mr. Summers admitted that any new construction on the lot would be an improvement over what was there currently.

“The existing building is run-down and dilapidated,” Mr. Summers said. “We will trust the board to put something there that is aesthetically appealing.”

The Board of Adjustments voted unanimously to approve the setback from Pierce Street and the lot area, as well as the variance from Northeast Front Street, pending approval by the Planning Commission.

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