The developers of a controversial apartment complex planned for Farmers Boulevard in St. Albans are scheduled to file adjustments to their application with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in less than three weeks.
The BSA on June 24 gave the developers, who include the Presbyterian Church of St. Albans, a filing date of Aug. 5, and will reconvene the public hearing on Aug. 24.
But unless changes are numerous and massive, it seems unlikely that they will be sufficient to sway the considerable community opposition that attended the opening of the hearing on June 24.
The church and its financial backers are proposing a 67-unit affordable housing apartment complex that would include a community center with a gym in the basement and lower levels for the church to conduct its many outreach programs.
It would be built at 118-27/47 Farmers Blvd. on a pair of lots that used to have small woodframe houses.
It would have three floors in the front and increase to five toward the middle of the structure, rising 55 feet in an area downzoned in 2007 for a maximum building height of 35 feet.
It also would allow for 23 parking spaces where city regulations would call for more than 60.
Residents are concerned with the height, appearance and impact that an influx of between 200 and 300 people might have on the nearby schools, sewer system, traffic and on-street parking.
Michael Pope, opposed to the project, has lived in St. Albans for 54 years.
“It’s too big,” he said, echoing several other opponents who spoke before the BSA. “You could have between 200 and 300 people on less than one acre.”
He and others said they do not believe that 67 units would only bring 23 cars, and that the rest would spill out into the surrounding neighborhood.
The Rev. Edward Davis, pastor of the church, and supporters back in June told the BSA that their current facilities, about five blocks away, are no longer sufficient.
“We are a church,” Davis said. “We want what is best for everyone.”
They also said that affordable housing is needed in the area, and that city affordable housing regulations allow developers more density in order to help recoup their investment.
Eric Palatnik, the attorney representing the developers, said the property is irregularly shaped, thus reducing the number of units a private, commercial developer would be able to construct.
“A for-profit developer could not make this land work,” Palatnik said. “A non-o has been one of the project’s more vocal critics, said a structure so tall and so dense is totally inappropriate for the neighborhood of unattached one- and two-family homes. She and others said it is a quality-of-life issue.
“That is the reason we fought for [downzoning] for 10 years,” she told the BSA.
Two residents, whose names could not be obtained, supported the project, saying it was a matter of need.
“It’s easy for you to say if you already have a home,” the man said. “I get up every day and go to work and I live in a room. I can’t afford a house.”
Former Councilman Archie Spigner was among those who said they are not opposed to the church nor Pastor Davis — merely the building in its proposed form.
“I think this is a bad idea from good people,” he said.