WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

NORTHAMPTON — A planning board public hearing involving a small homes and cottages project proposed at 39 Day Ave. is being delayed until April 25 so the applicant can address some questions the Planning Board had.

The proposed project, which is being spearheaded by Pioneer Development LLC, calls for a split of the large existing single-family home that sits at the location into a side-by-side duplex. One is proposed to be a 927 square-foot unit with two bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms while the other is proposed to be a 1,470 square foot unit with four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Pioneer Development is then proposing to add seven small, mostly single-family homes that are all less than 1,000 square feet, according to the permit application that details the plans.

“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 are projected to be small, standard-sized two-bedroom homes that are a little over 900 square feet.

During a Northampton Planning Board public hearing on March 28, McKahn said that all of the units proposed will have side patios, back patios, garden areas, rooftop solar PV and indoor and outdoor storage space. Shared bicycle storage is also included in the proposal.

According to McKahn, 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 March 28 hearing, several abutting residents spoke about their concerns with the project including the scale of the project and how the project coincides with the rest of the neighborhood.

Some, like Erinn Ervin, a resident at 20 Glenwood Ave., were concerned about a one-way drive that would connect Glenwood Avenue with Day Avenue. Ervin, in particular, was concerned that the one-way drive would quickly turn into a de facto city street.

“We’re asking the Planning Board to reject creation of a drive-through from Glenwood to Day Avenue and to reduce the number of units built,” Ervin said.

Sarah Byrne, a resident near Glenwood’s dead end, felt that the seven units and one-way drive did not fit the location.

“Putting seven units on this relatively small piece of land just feels like too much,” Byrne said.

One resident who spoke summarized the tenor of the abutting residents present at the hearing.

“As a group, we’re not opposed to the development at 39 Day Ave; we know there’s a housing shortage and an infill development is probably the best way to deal with that,” said the resident. “However, we do oppose the development in its current configuration.”

Members of the Planning Board were generally on board with what the project is going for but asked the applicant to come back on April 25 with revised plans that would potentially bring some of the units together so the surrounding open space can be maximized a little more. I think it’s a tricky geometric puzzle,” said Planning Board member David Whitehill, about the project. “I generally applaud like the creativity, and we’ve had a lot of conversations here about, ‘can we force people to make smaller units,’ because that’s what makes things actually affordable.”

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