Somerset Developer To Move Forward

For months there has been a question of where the Center Business District boundary is and if there are any home lots in it.

A letter from Commissioner of Inspectional Services Al Legee delivered hours before Monday night’s Planning Board meeting made all the difference.

There is a clear line distinguishing the lots in the Center Business District and lots for homes of the abutters.

“During the past few weeks it has become apparent that confusion exists as to the boundaries of the Center Business District as shown on the current Town of Winthrop zoning map,” Legee stated.

Legee added that the current Zoning Map can be found posted by the City Clerk on the Town of Winthrop website with ordinances under title 17.

That boundary is key when it has come to one developer with a proposal.

With this new information, the Planning Board approved on Monday night the proposal for 1025 Somerset, (site of the old Dollar Store)  a development by Envelo of 30 apartment units with parking and retail on the ground level.

Now that the boundary issue is cleared up the developer will have to apply for a building permit and the proposal will still have to go in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals for variances.

“It’s not an easy one-stop shop,” said attorney James Cipoletta, who represents Envelo and the developer Joanna Schwartz, who purchased the property 18 months ago with the assumption that four stories were allowed.

The variances will address height (there is a question between 2.5 or four stories) and dimensional setbacks for front, side and rear.

Schwartz, who has held public meetings (and went back to make the design less industrial) and has been before the Planning Board. She said the design work addressed comments regarding the frontage of the building, where the gas meters will be and the landscaping. Part of the plan also calls for the widening of Somerset Avenue by one and half feet.

“It’s extremely unfortunate that the petitioners were told that four stories is allowable,” said Tom Reilly of Somerset Ave. “It’s inexcusable, it’s unfair to the property owners that this has been dragging on.”

“It’s been three long years fighting about this,” said Jean Coughlin of Cottage Park Road. “Now it’s clarified.”

Schwartz said when she purchased the property for $1.2 million that she was assured “by every signal person in charge at the time” that she could have a four-story building.

“All the information that was available and told to us by primary sources told us that this building could have four stores,” Schwartz said. “I think that should be included in the record. This delay has been egregious as a developer

“I am very excited about the ruling and very happy we have an answer,” Schwartz said.

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