During last night’s meeting of the Planning Commission, O’Neill Properties re-presented its plan for a 600+ unit apartment community on the riverfront. There were a bunch of technical details reviewed and in the end the Planning Commission determined that two pieces were not adequately addressed, a landscaping plan and a visual of the buildings along Washington Street, which had the height changed since their previous appearance before the Planning Commission. Due to these issues, the members of the Planning Commission and O’Neill Properties decided to meet in a month for another review. So a vote was not taken.
There was an interesting discussion during the period for public comment. Four residents spoke against the project. Their arguments focused mainly on the number of units and its impact on public safety and traffic. At one point Commission member Brian Tobin asked one of the residents what should be on the riverfront, if not this type of project. One person suggested a mix of retail and apartments, but for the most part, no one knew what to suggest. One resident stated that while it wasn’t clear what the answer was, the answer wasn’t this large of an apartment community. Tobin stated that the proposal meets very closely the requirements of zoning.
After the meeting we spoke with members of the Planning Commissioner and one expressed that the residents were making arguments that were better suited to be made to members of Borough Council. Council creates the zoning code. Borough Council actually made changes to the zoning code last year. If a more restrictive code was desired, that was the time to act.
So we will give you an update in a month when the next meeting occurs.