Published DateLACONIA — Kevin Morrissette last night won unanimous approval from the Planning Board to construct three duplex units on Washington Street, across from Leavitt Park, after revising his original plan in response to misgivings voiced by abutters and neighbors at two public meetings.
Morrissette plans to construct three vinyl-sided buildings placed in a row along the northwest side of a one-acre lot at 126 Washington Street. His brother Peter purchased the property for $57,000 in January and soon afterward demolished the single-family home that had stood on the lot since 1890.
Initially he proposed siting the buildings in a row along the northwest side of the lot fronted by a parking area with spaces for 15 vehicles. The units would be rented.
The lot lies within the "residential general" district where, with municipal water and sewer, six units per acre are permitted by the zoning ordinance.
Neighbors, echoed by members of the board, described the project as an "eyesore," likening it to a "strip mall," noting that it is the only multi-family complex in a neighborhood of single-family homes. Last month the board deferred its decision as chairman Warren Hutchins urged Morrissette to reconsider the placement of the buildings as well as the landscaping, screening and fencing of the property. In addition, he asked that any restrictions incorporated in the rental agreements, such as repairing vehicles and storing equipment, be presented to the board.
At a subsequent meeting with Planning Director Shanna Saunders and members of the board, Morrissette agreed to move the first building eight feet further from Washington Street, expanding the green space fronting the lot, and add a wraparound porch to enhance the gable-end facing the street. A farmer's porch was added to the second building while the last in the row was canted at an angle. The extent of paved was reduced and areas delineated for barbecue grills at each unit. The landscaping plan was expanded to include trees, shrubs and perennials — more than 200 planting altogether — at the front and along both sides of the lot.
Board chairman Warren Hutchins reminded Morrissette they discussed that one of the buildings should be a different color and he readily agreed that the middle building would be a compatible but different hue as well as to mix the colors of the front doors.
Mike Bolduc, the abutter to the west, asked about fencing and drainage, Morrissette said he would add stockade fencing and, if Bolduc was agreeable, regrade a portion of his lot to improve the drainage. The abutter to the east, Patricia Laderbush, also requested fencing to block the lights of vehicles entering and leaving the parking area.
Joe Cherry of 94 Washington Street, perhaps the harshest critic of the project, expressed a measure of disappointment at the modest changes to the original design.
Hutchins said that the revisions represented "a significant improvement" and fellow board member Don Richards called the project an example of "how it should be done," explaining that the developer listened to the neighbors and the board, met with department staff and resolved the outstanding issues.