Plus, updates on other projects around Beacon
By Jeff Simms
The proposed Edgewater development in Beacon will not have a significant adverse effect on the city’s school district, the Planning Board has decided.
Next up for the 307-unit project is the Zoning Board of Appeals, which must rule on three variances its developer has requested. The board will hold a public hearing on the requests — for the number of stories allowed per building, the number of units per building and the space between buildings — on Tuesday, Dec. 19.
The Planning Board recommended the ZBA allow more stories per building but deny the variances for the number of units per building and space between buildings.
Edgewater officials say the variances would minimize the construction footprint of the project, but that they will proceed whether granted or not.
“We’re trying to create and be a leader in doing something different, and that’s why we’re asking for these,” said Rodney Weber, who is developing the project and several others in Beacon.
After the ZBA rules on the variances, the City Council will decide whether to grant Weber’s company, Scenic Beacon Developments, a special-use permit. If Edgewater clears that hurdle, the Planning Board would vote on final approval of the development.
The Dec. 12 Planning Board meeting was the conclusion of a seven-month-long environmental review that had become a standoff between Weber and the Beacon City School District. Edgewater consultants contended that when balancing increased property tax revenue with the number of new students the development would add to the schools, the project would be a net benefit for the district.
School officials countered that the developer had underestimated the cost of adding students to an already strained and underfunded district.
The district seemed to win the popular vote, as more than 600 people signed an online petition in its favor, but in the opinion of the Planning Board, the development would not create a “significant” adverse effect on the schools.
“The school board’s issue does not lie on the back of one project,” Board Member Randall Williams reasoned. “We have to address the problem that already exists in the schools.”
In other business …
- The Planning Board on Dec. 12 voted to continue a public hearing next month on the River Ridge townhouse development at “Parcel L” on Wolcott Avenue. After hearing mixed feedback from neighbors, attorney Jennifer Van Tuyl said the developer may revise elements of the design, including a proposed pocket park and pedestrian path.
- The board approved site plans for the four-story, mixed-use project at 226 Main St., at the corner of North Elm. (Now the site of Ed’s Auto Repair, the property was purchased in May for $429,000.) The project will include retail space on the ground floor and eight apartments. Some residents asked the board to delay its decision while the City Council considers zoning changes that could limit buildings on Main Street to three stories. The Planning Board, however, opted not to postpone because the plans for 226 Main were submitted before the council’s zoning discussion began. “This is not being rushed through in any sense of the word,” Planning Board Chairperson Jay Sheers said.
- The board completed its environmental review of an amendment to already-approved plans for The Lofts at Beacon at 39 Front St. The developer wants to remove commercial space and add 29 residential units to the 143 artist live/work spaces that have been approved, bringing the total to 172. Approximately 80 of the units have been built. The project will proceed to the ZBA in January, although the City Council will have to grant a new special-use permit. While the Lofts stand to lose commercial space, architect Aryeh Siegel said that the developer is “seriously considering” a commercial project on an adjacent lot to the south.