Jack's Electric project approved by planners
After months of controversy between the board and Windridge Properties, the Planning Commission agreed to recommend approval of modifications to a new construction unit that has been left without a certificate of occupancy on Clinton Avenue since last spring. The unanimous vote at the Dec. 19 meeting allows owner Jack Brittain to go before the Zoning Board of Review to seek final approval and permission to move in at long last.
The planning commission's approval followed the check-off of a list of modifications required by the panel in order to approve the revised plan. Questions to the applicant included details of a parking
agreement with abutter Ed Holland and outside lighting fixtures.
Commission Chairman Gary Girard recused himself at the request of Donald Parker, the attorney representing Windridge Properties. Girard's daughter and son-in-law own property on Howland Avenue, the same street where Holland's business is located. Holland and Brittain have a parking agreement in connection with Brittain's property.
Girard begrudged the request before stepping down, saying, "I do not agree, as I do not have anything to gain."
A point of contention that stalled voting on the commercial building plan was the late submission of a parking lease with Holland, to use three parking spaces on the abutting property. Planning Commissioner Richard Ventrone scolded Packer for submitting the lease at the meeting, and said he did not have time to review the document properly. In a question directed to the town planner and town solicitor, Lisa Bryer and Chris Orton also admitted they had not had time to review the document.
Ventrone went on to criticize the lease, noting that hours of allowed parking use were not specified in the lease. Brittain stood up in defense of the lease. "Mr. Holland has 26 more parking spaces than what is required for that property. I think we went above and beyond what you asked for," he said.
Acting Commission Chairman Victor Calabretta noted that, after that meeting, a new commission would start in the following month. He asked if the officials would have enough time to comment on the lease if they were given a recess in order to read it.
After more discussion, the parking arguments were appeased without a break.
As more time was spent nitpicking on lighting details outside the building, the town solicitor interjected that lighting would be a condition of approval from the zoning board. "I think you people have spent more than an ordinate amount of time hashing out the details of this agreement," he added.
After approving the request for modification to the originally approved development plan, the commission also approved a recommendation for a special-use permit for shared parking. The special use approval came in the wake of a contentious motion by Ventrone to deny the recommendation. After much discussion, Ventrone withdrew his motion.
In other business, Andrea Colognese and Doriana Carella, owners of Village Hearth Bakery at the corner of North Main Road and Watson Avenue, asked for preliminary advice on their proposal of a sit-down café. The bakers said their plan fit together with the larger infrastructure improvements of sidewalks, and onstreet parking would be available to accommodate the expansion. Colognese pointed out that their plan would solve some present parking issues.
The commission encouraged the bakery owners to return with a written development plan.