The building proposed for the corner of State and North Second streets, where retail shops are planned for the ground floor, will contain forty studio and one-bedroom apartments for seniors. The other building will have forty one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments for families.
One of the criticisms heard of the proposed project was its location. In the past, any conversation about new HHA construction involved smaller buildings constructed on available lots throughout the city. This project seems to perpetuate or intensify the concentration of low-income households in one section of the city. The reason for the choice of location is obvious. There is very little vacant land in Hudson, and HHA already owns this parcel. There seems to be other thinking behind it as well. Instead of achieving the goal of economic diversity by relocating low-income households throughout the city, the idea may be to achieve economic diversity in this location. Both buildings are meant to be mixed income, with some units renting at market rate and others at different levels of affordability.
Describing the steps going forward, Mattice told Gossips he anticipated the architects and planners would use the comments received that evening to make revisions and would present the final plans at the HHA Board meeting on Wednesday, November 14. After that, the project would go to the Planning Board for site plan review. When I suggested that it might first have to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for area variances (building height in Hudson is limited to three stories, and the proposed buildings are four stories), he told me they found out there was "no zoning" in that area. That seemed very unlikely, so this morning I checked the zoning map, and there is indeed zoning in that area.
The site of Bliss Towers and Providence Hall and the area on State Street where the new buildings are to be constructed are zoned G-C (General Commercial), and there is no indication in the code that a G-C district is not subject to the bulk and area regulations that apply everywhere else in the city. I thought perhaps the explanation was that, because HHA is a HUD agency, it might be exempt from local zoning regulations, as school districts are, but our code enforcement officer Craig Haigh says otherwise.
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