If any neighbors were interested in hearing plans for the development of 169 Milbank Ave presented to the Planning & Zoning commission on Tuesday, they would have had to wait about seven hours into the marathon meeting.
In fact it wasn’t until after 1:00am on Wednesday that Thomas Heagney and his son John presented their application for site plan and special permit approval for a multi-family home at 169 Milbank Ave, where a house will be demolished. The building will be set above retaining walls as the east side of Milbank is on a hill.
The applicant returned after resolving issues with town departments including Zoning Enforcement Officer on southerly property line, letter from conservation’s Aleksandra Moch saying she’s comfortable with the landscaping plan, waste water management director Mr. Feminella in response to a letter from engineer Rob Frangione on sewer flow rates on Milbank Ave and the project in project in particular.
At the last hearing the applicant was asked if they could shift the building back away from Milbank Ave. “Even if we could shift it back, we couldn’t shift it back to eliminate a retaining wall,” said the younger Mr. Heagney.
“Setting aside the retaining wall, you can’t move it back from the road so it doesn’t look so dominant? Is that a possibility?” Mrs. Ramer asked Mr. Heagney.
Mr. Heagney said there’s a terrace that’s 26 ft from the front property line, and the building is set back 37 ft, which he said was considerably more than the minimum requirements.
“Milbank Ave is an area that was hot 100 years ago, and people built what was considered very big houses on parcels that were in town,” Mr. Heagney said. “It is going through a transformation mainly for people who are downsizing, ironically, into houses that are bigger than what was there before.”
Mr. Maitland pointed out that diagonally across the street, the transition to multi-family development began with the Meadgate townhouses that replaced the former YWCA.
“That probably didn’t set as good a precedent as it could have,” Mr. Heagney said.
“Even though it is pushed back off the street by 37 ft, the ratio between the actual height of the facade of the building and the position to the curb will make this building seem very, very tall,” Mr. Macri said. “You could push it further back, but it’s about the ratio between the sidewalk and the actual height.”
“A lot of it has to do with the topography of the area. It rises very steeply,” Mr. Heagney said.
“It’s very boxy. It’s an effort to just make a big box,” Mrs. Ramer said.
Mrs. Alban alluded to a development on Loughlin Ave as “the poster child” for this application.
“The sense of streetscape is lost,” Mr. Macri said.
“Maybe this is something that the commission needs to look at in the R6 study* and establish some standards that we can apply,” Mr. Heagney said.
The commission closed the application but, due to the late hour, did not vote on it.