The legislation introduced would amend the Schedule of Bulk and Area Regulations in the following ways:
1) DELETING "Lot area:" in the second line of the chart; and
2) INSERTING "of lot", following "(square feet)" in the third line of the chart; and
3) INSERTING the following sentence in footnote 3 at the end thereof: "The Planning Board may, at its discretion authorize a zero side yard set back for one side yard where a structure has two side yards."; and
4) DELETING "1,500" and REPLACING it with "500" in the R-4 Multiple Dwellings, Lot area: Per dwelling unit (square feet) column.The amendment to Chapter 325 of the city code was undertaken with some urgency after the Planning Board had, on the previous Wednesday, determined that three projects before them, representing a potential of eighteen new apartments in the city, had to apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for an area variance, based on the alleged 1,500 square foot requirement.
None of those three projects came before the ZBA this past Wednesday. Instead, a different project, also requiring an area variance but for a different reason, came before the board on a night when Russ Gibson was sitting in for ZBA chair Lisa Kenneally and John Tingley was pinch hitting for ZBA counsel Dan Tuczinski. The proposal, presented by Stephen Dunn, is to build a new structure on Rope Alley behind 235 and 237 Robinson Street that would contain garage spaces for five cars on the ground floor and an 800 square foot apartment on the second floor. The proposed project requires an area variance not because the apartment would be smaller than 1,500 square feet. The regulation, as it is understood, applies only to apartments in multiple unit dwellings not to single family dwelling or a single apartment in an accessory building. Setbacks are the reason the project was denied a building permit and sent to the ZBA.
Dunn owns three properties on Robinson Street: 233, 235, and 237. There are two-family houses on 233 and 237; 235 is vacant.
|233 Robinson Street|
|235 Robinson Street|
|237 Robinson Street|
Dunn plans to renovate both 233 and 237 Robinson Street as two family houses, which is what they are now, and he is committed to providing one enclosed garage space for each unit. He is also committed to not building anything at the front of 235 Robinson Street, wanting instead to maintain it as an open landscaped space. His goal is to decrease the density on Robinson Street, which in his expressed opinion is "horrible"--an opinion not shared by those interested in preserving neighborhood character.
In 2011, Historic Hudson initiated an effort to make Robinson Street a historic district. The application for designation presented to the Historic Preservation Commission began with this statement:
Robinson Street is a unique survivor of a nineteenth-century working class neighborhood in the City of Hudson. The street, located in the city’s Second Ward between North Third and North Second Streets, represents the type of urban domestic architecture once common in the City of Hudson, much of which was demolished during urban renewal in the 1970’s. Fortunately, the vernacular structures that characterize the architecture of Robinson Street were spared. This quiet street, and related buildings that make up the Robinson Street Historic District on North Third and North Second Streets, is the only intact nineteenth-century neighborhood left in the Second Ward. The Robinson Street neighborhood is a distinctive and valuable part of the city’s architectural, economic, and cultural history.As a footnote to Historic Hudson's statement, it's interesting to note that in the assessment of neighborhoods in the 1965 Comprehensive Development Plan, Robinson Street, along with Sacred Heart Church and its rectory on Second Street on the west end of Robinson Street, was the only part of the North Bay Neighborhood that escaped being judged substandard.
The attempt to make Robinson Street a historic district was notoriously unsuccessful, which is good thing for Dunn. His project will require approval by the ZBA and the Planning Board but not a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.
The ZBA will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Wednesday, May 21, at 6 p.m.
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