The Sun: Mixed-use complex proposed

Housing, offices planned for Franklin Street parcel

By Dale P. Faulkner

Sun staff writer

WESTERLY - The owner of property at the corner of Franklin and Wells streets hopes to develop his land with an age-restricted 55-and-older housing complex as well as office buildings.

John Mazzarino and his representatives reviewed his plans for his property at 51 Franklin St. with the Planning Board on July 17. The project would be built at 51 Franklin St. and three adjoining lots that are also owned by Mazzarino and his Fifty One Franklin limited liability company. A portion of the property is accessible from Wells Street. The lots are in three different zones: HDR-6, P-15, and HDR-15.

The meeting with the board for Mazzarino's pre-application and concept plan review is considered to be a preliminary step intended to give the applicant feedback from the board and the town staff. More formal submissions would be required if Mazzarino is to move forward.

Based on material filed in the town's Department of Development Services, the development would consist of eight four-unit residential buildings and three 6,000 square-foot office buildings. Chris Beaulieu-Shea, a professional engineer and project manager with Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions of Providence, said the project will be submitted under the state's comprehensive permit law, which gives developers a density bonus in return for a commitment to reserving a percentage of the project to housing units that fit the state's definition of affordable. In this case eight of the 32 units would be designated affordable.

Paul Azzinaro of Azzinaro Larson Architects of Westerly, the project architect. Said the project would be built in phases. As of the meeting with the Planning Board, Azzinaro said a commercial tenant had not been secured. “There's a hope of a professional or hospital group,” he said.

The project may require seeking a variance to the town's building height limit of 35 feet to go about 7 feet over the limit, Azzinaro said.

After discussions with the town staff, Azzinaro said, more of a focus on maintaining green space and making the project pedestrian-friendly was implemented. The residential units would be town house style buildings. Some would have one bedroom and others would have two bedrooms.

Christopher Lawlor, a Planning Board member, asked how the project would be accessed, noting a heavy volume of traffic on both Franklin and Wells streets. Beaulieu-Shea said a traffic engineer would be hired to assist with the project and said limitations could be set to allow only northbound traffic to enter from Franklin Street, and require motorists leaving the site to take only right turns onto Franklin Street.

Town Planner Rui Almeida called the plans “a very exciting project” that would allow for a village-like-design with an emphasis on people and walking rather than on motor vehicles.

An application for a zone change for the property now owned by Mazzarino was denied by the Town Council in 2012. The change had been sought in order for an Aldi Grocery Store to be built on the land. The store later opened in the Franklin Shopping Plaza. Mazzarino's proposal would not require a zone change, Azzinaro said.

Courtesy of The Sun

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