Project at 20 Waldemar Up for Debate

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

The Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) kicked off its first Design Review Committee (DRC) meeting of the season on Tuesday, Oct. 18. There was a review of three potential projects in the area – none more controversial than the project at 20 Waldemar Avenue that was presented at the end of the meeting.

The proposed development would erect a six-unit building in an area currently zoned for one-family units. This development is not necessarily new, as some changes were made to the plans since it was presented at an abutter meeting back in July.

These changes include dropping the unit size from nine to six by scaling down the front of the building and moving the remaining portion of the building forward. Initially, there were concerns about the shadows a building like this would cast on abutting buildings, but the new size of the building seeks to quell those concerns. Privacy screens on the rear balconies of the building were also added to ease concerns about the ability to look into abutting buildings.

Overall, the reaction to the updated project was mixed, as some Waldemar residents still had apprehensions. One of those residents who voiced their concerns was Daniel Todesca, who lives at 24 Waldemar Avenue directly next to the proposed development.

Todesca outlined issues he has with the project regarding potential variances in terms of size and neighborhood congestion, among other things. He also raised concerns about the drainage issues a building like this could cause.

Todesca went into depth about the congestion issues citing that even with the proposed six off-street parking spots in the plans, there is potential for more than six cars in the building, which would make parking in the area worse.

“My main concern is that you are trying to build a condo building in a lot that is only zoned for a single-family dwelling, and I am the single-family dwelling next door, so I have concerns with my residence; what is going to happen to that,” said Todesca.

“If there was a vote today on the building, I would probably say no,” he added.

Another Orient Heights resident Gail Miller echoed Todesca’s sentiment, citing the height of the proposed development towering over abutters and congestion in terms of the number of units.

“This is a one-family zone – it is quite obnoxious to propose six units on the same site. Obviously, they are trying to chip away at the zoning in our neighborhood,” said Miller.

“It is not in keeping with the character of our current neighborhood … I am opposed to it myself as a resident in the neighborhood,” she added.

While some opposed the potential project, others, like John Wyatt, who lives across the street, seemed to like the updated rendering.

“This looks really nice, and I think it fits in. The house that is there now has been neglected for years and is unsightly. At least this adds a little bit to the neighborhood – I like it,” said Wyatt.

“I am definitely fond of this project if we can get rid of that unsightly thing that is there now,” he said.

Toward the conclusion of the meeting Gary Carter the proponent of the proposal, addressed comments regarding the project and said he hopes to talk to more residents about the project in the future.

Carter and residents will have the opportunity to discuss the development further soon as the OHNC has requested that representatives for the project return to another DRC meeting slated for sometime in November.

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