NORTHAMPTON — The Planning Board approved a major site plan for a small homes and cottages project at 39 Day Ave. during its April 25 meeting.

The project, which is spearheaded by Pioneer Development LLC, will add seven small, mostly single-family homes that are all less than 1,000 square feet and the addition of at least 10 parking spaces.

“What we’re most excited about on this project is that we are testing what we are calling a ‘cottage’ concept, a smaller and more affordable home — [less than] 700 square feet — that has one bedroom plus a reasonably-sized open bonus space that we believe offers most of the function for smaller households that a two-bedroom home offers,” said Danielle McKahn, the managing partner for Pioneer Development.

According to the permit application for the project, four of the seven new construction homes are projected be in this cottage style that McKahn mentions while the other three homes will be small, standard-sized, two-bedroom homes that are a little over 900 square feet.

McKahn said that the project falls in line with the city’s planning objectives that are described in the Sustainable Northampton Plan, which states that the city wants to use densely developed areas — including traditional neighborhoods that support downtown Northampton — to build more housing, support downtown commerce, public transit viability, walkability and neighborhood vibrancy.

The plan also states that housing should be located within walking distance along safe paths, near parks and recreation, schools and public transportation.

“This proposal hits the mark on all these fronts, being a relatively large lot on a street that’s just a block to the bike path, the Montessori School, Sheldon Field, and a Route 9 bus stop/shelter, and is also not far from the fairgrounds, Bridge Street School or downtown,” McKahn told Reminder Publishing.

The project also proposes shared open space at the front of the property and for each small unit to have multiple open spaces, including partially screened backyards and side patios.

“With this project at 39 Day Ave., we’re expanding the outdoor space for each home,” McKahn said. “This shift is in response to the development patterns on neighboring properties, to fit into the character of the neighborhood, as well as a desire we’ve seen for residents to have great semi-private outdoor spaces.”

According to McKahn, the proposal would also connect Glenwood Avenue — which is a dead-end-street — to Day Avenue via a shared use driveway as a way to promote neighborhood connectivity and traffic calming.
The plans say that Glenwood and Day Avenue would each absorb 50% of the traffic impacts as a result of the design.

“Residents of Glenwood Avenue would be welcome to walk and bike through to connect to Day Avenue on their way to the bike path, the North Street Neighborhood, or wherever,” McKahn said, of the proposed shared use driveway.

During the project’s initial public hearing on March 28, many residents expressed concerns about the technicalities of the project as well as its scale: https://thereminder.com/local-news/public-hearing-on-day-avenue-units-paused-until-late-april/.

Pioneer Development made some minor adjustments to address some of those concerns during the continued public hearing on April 25, like refining the location’s open space calculation.

“We’ll build everything except for the patios, and then we’ll see how much open space we have left,” McKahn said during the meeting. “Then the remainder is going to be patios so that all of these units can get great outdoor spaces at the backs and sides of their houses.”

A couple residents during the two public hearings expressed concern about the possible rise in traffic because of the shared-use driveway.

“I worry about a cut-through going into such a heavily-trafficked Day Avenue,” said Day Avenue resident Kerrigan Baron during the April 25 meeting.

The Planning Board, which felt like the applicant did enough to address the stated concerns, approved the site plan 4-0 with chair George Kohout abstaining because he was not present during the first public hearing in March.

The board approved the plan with a number of contingencies including that the new units will function harmoniously with other structures and open spaces in the area, and the applicant will have to show that the site meets the minimum of 40% open space.

Pioneer Development will also make a one-time payment of $7,000 to the city in lieu of traffic mitigation to address any incremental impacts of traffic for the proposed units.

“We’re experiencing a real need for housing and neighborhoods are going to change because of that,” Kohout said on April 25 when addressing the project. “We have to evolve with it.”

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts