Always nice to make the paper. (Thanks Jamie Fluery!) We appeared before the Plymouth Board of Public Works (BOW) on September 11th. We were mainly there to discuss the drainage for the project, but we also took the opportunity to present the proposed re-plat and the variances that will before the BZA.
Water Street Townhomes is a READI project in which we partnered with the City of Plymouth to receive grant money. The plan is for 12 two bedroom townhomes and an attached commercial building with 2 one bedroom flats. The project includes the removal of two existing homes and a reconfiguration of the City’s parking lot at the corner of Garro and Water Streets.
The replat combines 7 existing lots into two lots, one going back to the City as parking and the other for Water Street Townhomes project. The variances are partially for the City and partially for the townhouse project:
- Parking Space Size Variance (City) – 9′ x 19′ in lieu of 10′ x 20′. 9′ x 19′ meets INDOT standards. It also matches the parking lot layout used in the City’s LaPorte Street lot.
- Parking Aisle Size Variance (City) – 17′ in lieu of 20′. A 17′ aisle is larger than INDOT standards. Again, similar to that found in the City’s LaPorte Street parking lot.
- Off-street Parking Variance (Both) – 0 in lieu of 14. We are adding additional spaces to the parking lot that more than cover this, but we have made the entire lot the City’s ownership to clean things up for the future.
- Rear Yard Setback Variance (Townhomes) – 2’6″ in lieu of 10′. This goes along with the parking variance above. Since the entire parking lot will be within the City’s parcel, this moves the property line up adjacent to the building.
- Side Yard Setback (Townhomes) – 6′ in lieu of 20′. This setback and the rear yard setback above are not consistent with the downtown area where most buildings have no setback on sides or rear. This change allows us to have an additional unit here too.
We wanted the BOW to know what was coming and hopefully weigh in with their support for the re-plat and the variances. They did. It is important for the underlying boards and committees to know the position of the elected officials that appoint them.
The drainage issue was a bit more complicated. The existing drainage for the parking lot is handled with a drywell. This is allowed in the ordinance, but is generally not the preferred method for City staff. The storage requirements are similar, but the difference is the amount of engineering required for a standard detention method as opposed to the straightforward drywall volume per square foot calculation. By bringing it to the BOW first, before going to the Technical Review Committee, we were able to explain the situation and get the BOW backing, allowed the City staff to acquiesce. Plymouth currently has no City Engineer, so all drainage issues are farmed out to a consultant in Indianapolis who has not familiarity with Plymouth properties. The BOW agreed to this method, saving time for us as the developer and saving consulting fees for the City.
This project is a good example of a public/private partnership to meet the goals of the City while allowing a developer to meet these goals in a responsible and profitable manner. This project would be difficult to complete economically in the current climate without this type of public support.
There are times when the regulations have become too stringent because of a past problem. This allows staff very little flexibility. When a project has the support of the elected officials, then staff has permission to look for solutions, rather than concentrate of esoteric problems.