DALTON -- A plan to redevelop the former Curtis Manor Retirement Home into housing has cleared its first municipal hurdle -- and is approaching the next one.
Although some concerns were expressed about parking, members of the Dalton Select Board this vetted the proposal by Dalton Senior Apartments LLC and sent it along to the Zoning Board of Appeals with "no objections."
Owners of the 83 Curtis Ave. property Joseph Kroboth and Richard Solis intend to renovate and retrofit the three existing structures there into 13 single-bedroom apartments for tenants 55 and older. The former retirement home closed in late 2012.
The developers must obtain a special-use permit from the ZBA, which will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 at Dalton Senior Center and ultimately determine whether the project goes ahead.
The plan calls for 11 parking spaces at the facility, which some board members felt was inadequate, said Select Board Chairman John Boyle. Members noted the site’s proximity to Pinegrove Park, where congestion already is a problem.
"There’s 13 units," Selectwoman Loisa M. Horth said at Monday’s meeting. "If they all have a car they won’t even have enough places to park. It’s a very small area."
Dalton’s bylaws specify 1.5 parking spaces per unit as the target amount -- 20 spaces, in this case. But the LLC, in its special permit request, asked for a reduction in parking because they say fewer seniors own cars.
The proposal cites an Urban Land Institute standard that requires only half of one parking space per unit for senior housing.
Solis said he thinks the numbers are on his side.
"We feel very solid about our application," he said. "I’ve asked the attorney we’re working with time and time again, ‘Are we going to get this permit?’ and the answer is always: ‘Absolutely.’ So I feel extremely confident."
Solis said residents have had "nothing but positive things" to say about the proposal since its initial submission raised concerns among some residents who mistakenly believed the site would be used for low-income housing or a halfway house. Kroboth also owns the building that houses Barton’s Crossing homeless shelter in Pittsfield.
Boyle notified ZBA members via letter Tuesday of the board’s vote on the proposal and concerns over parking.
"The [ZBA] may suggest that more parking be added as a condition of the permit," Boyle said.
Solis said space exists on-site for at least another two spaces.
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