Vine Street Condo Builder Withdraws Variance Request For Parking

Contractor decides to place parking within the allowed setback, eliminating the need for Zoning Board relief.

After presenting several different parking space proposals for the new three-unit condominium complex at 51, 53, and 55 Vine Street, the developer decided to withdraw a request for zoning relief to place parking spaces within the setback at a meeting of the Zoning Board Tuesday night.

The move came following two meetings on the subject but little agreement of how to fit at least five parking spaces on the lot. The builder said he would double up one of the parking spaces on the east side of the building, allowing for four spaces there, and keep just one space on the west side that did not require a variance.

Homeowner Josh Berry, who lives next door to the building, told the board he did not want any parking on the west side of the property. That side of the building provides for only one parking space without getting a variance.

"I fully reject to any parking in this spot," Berry said. He also questioned how the project had grown from a two-unit condo complex to a three-unit one.

According to Wayne Pimental, the town building and zoning official, the project's original owner, Leslie Pritchard, had a survey done that showed there was room for three units.

"For an R6 zone, you need to have a miniumn of 4,000 sq. ft. of land space," explained the Planning Department's Lea Anthony. In this case, Pritchard's survey showed there was enough land – just over 12,000 sq. ft. – to accommodate three units.

After Pritchard sold the property, along with plans for a three-unit building, to Alexa Battista of Westerly, Battista had the plans revised, moving the building forward on the lot and making it bigger. According to the plans, the units will be 1,500 square feet each, with three bedrooms and two and a half baths.

The project was not seen by the Planning or Zoning boards before construction began because it was an "acceptable" use. The builder had said at a meeting in July that early plans for the building included parking in the front. The Historic District Commission reviewed the plans, but that panel only has purview over the structure itself, not the parking.

The project ended up before the Zoning Board now because the developer wanted to put the parking in front of the building, into the setback, requiring a variance.

Town officials said Tuesday during a site visit last week they were told one of the units has been sold and the owner is considering renting out the other two.


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