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Polish town apartments would require ZBA variance

Plans to construct a two-story, mixed-use building on a vacant Polish Town lot will require a Zoning Board of Appeals variance before gaining site plan approval.

The developers are seeking to place a 9,200-square-foot building on a .43-acre lot located at the northwest corner of Pulaski Street and Osborn Avenue. It would consist of three first-floor retail spaces and six second-floor apartments ranging in size from 600 to 700 square feet.

The developers returned before the planning board Thursday with revised plans addressing several issues raised when first pitched in September.

Preliminary plans only included one access point to the site on Osborn Avenue, which could have proved difficult for large vehicles such as garbage trucks to navigate.

In the updated plans, a 16-foot, one-way access point from Pulaski Street is proposed along with the original 24-foot wide two-way access from Osborn Avenue.

“Traffic circulation using this layout will be much more beneficial to the site,” said town planner Greg Bergman.

Revisions also include additional lighting near the dumpster enclosure, additional landscaping and buffers proposed along property boundaries.

A “Welcome to Polish Town U.S.A.” sign on the property would be relocated to the southwest corner.

Originally, nine-foot parking stalls were depicted in the site plan, which planning board member Ed Densieski said were too narrow. Ten-foot stalls were incorporated into the plans, but resulted in the loss of two parking spaces.

Based on the site plans, town code requires 27 parking stalls; the bigger stalls only provide 25 on site. A variance would need to be granted to allow that.

Building elevations were also updated and now incorporate more windows, glass, gables and brick. While reviewing preliminary plans, Mr. Densieski referred to the design as “very bland.”

He asked the applicants to incorporate more “ethnic” design elements relating to Polish Town, such as shutters.

Project architect Robert Gruber got conflicting opinions when plans were presented to the Architectural Review Board.

“The ARB didn’t want shutters. They didn’t like them,” Mr. Gruber said, indicating that he could instead incorporate attractive trim around the windows.

“I think it looks a lot better,” planning board chairman Stanley Carey noted at the meeting.

Though poised to set a public hearing on the proposal, the board instead tabled the vote. According to Mr. Bergman, they would await a denial from the building department before seeking a ZBA variance. 

“We want to have a full and complete plan that we’re presenting to the public,” he said of the delay.

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Photo caption: The corner where the project is proposed in Polish Town. (Tara Smith, file photo)