SPRINGFIELD Tonight the Springfield City Council will decide if developer Ted Bukowsky will be allowed to build a proposed 45-unit condo project aimed at people age 55 and up on Holcomb Street.
The council will have to approve a change in the zoning from Residence A to C and then approve a special permit that will detail conditions under which the project will be allowed.
And if the council members at the meeting were swayed by the impassioned pleas from numerous residents at a council sub-committee conducted Tuesday night at the Talmadge School, the vote would deny the zone change.
Resident after resident said they were not against the project itself, but rather its location -- an undeveloped section of woods and wetlands with a water table as high as five feet. In an area plagued with basements that can fill with water, residents were concerned how the development would affect the flow of water in the neighborhood.
Councilors Bud Williams, William Foley, Rosemarie Mazza-Moriarty and Jose Tosado also heard a report from the city's Chief Development Officer David Panagore who said the development had been approved with due diligence by every city department involved with the proposal.
Panagore said there was an effort to reach a solution between the developer and the residents opposed to the project led by the members of the Outer Belt Civic Association. He noted there had been success with such mediation with the civic association concerning the development of the new Stop & Shop supermarket at Allen and Cooley Streets, but not in this case.
Dennis Powers, the lawyer for the developer, said the 46 units would be 1,100 to 1,200 square feet in size, come with a one-car garage and cost $189,000.
Powers said the first phase-in of the condos, if approved, would be 25 units built within a year and a half of approval. The rest would be built to respond to market demand.
If the condos are not approved, the developer could put in 20 to 25 single family homes into the property, which Powers said would have a greater impact on the city's resources.
Gary Weiner, an engineer with EcoTech Engineering of Hampden, said the plan developed by the architects would not affect the flow of ground water.
Few of the residents seemed convinced by Weiner's assurances as their remarks often referenced the issue of ground water.
Walter Gould of the civic association asked the councilors to listen to the residents and stated again the site is the wrong location for such a development. Rev. Gregory Dyson, whose family lives in a home located near the proposed single entry road, noted the undeveloped area's beauty is an addition to the neighborhood.
Russell Pepe said, "I think it's the wrong spot. It's a water problem."
The project had its proponents in several people who said Springfield needs this category of housing that would help stem the flight of middle-aged and elderly people from the city.
This is the second incarnation of the development. Powers said in 2004 Bukowsky sought approval for a 36-unit sub-division.