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Proposed Apartments Raise Neighbors' Concerns

Oct. 13, 2004 – Parking and access were the chief issues raised at a Planning and Natural Resources Department permit hearing Wednesday for an apartment complex.
Steven and Barbara Barnes want to build two two-bedroom apartments and four one-bedroom apartments in three buildings. The property is .9 acres in size. It will have a wastewater treatment facility and a swimming pool.
However, the property sits at a sharp switchback on Route 104. "This is the most dangerous part of the whole road," said James Walgenwitt, whose property abuts the proposed project.
He and two other neighbors spoke during the hearing at the Legislature building on St. John about the numerous problems that occur as drivers navigate the blind turns in the switchback.
Architect Terry Fields, who designed the project and serves as the owner's representative, said that there is no alternative way to access the property.
"When the property was subdivided, it wasn't done well. This led to these conditions," he said.
However, Walgenwitt suggested he negotiate with a neighbor for an easement across her property to create an easier access.
The current access to the property is already across an easement shared with Walgenwitt.
Walgenwitt complained that the project would have a visual impact on his property because parking would be located directly below his house. And he said he would no longer be able to park next to his stairs.
Fields pointed out his parking spot is located on the easement road and told him that no one was allowed to park on an easement because it is shared access.
He said the project has eight parking spaces, two more than required by Planning.
However, Walgenwitt countered it was unlikely the tenants would have only one car per apartment. Since the project has no road frontage other than along the 10-foot-wide easement road, there would be no place for the drivers to park.
"Where would the ninth car go?" he asked.
Fields said he toyed with the idea of building a parking deck along the easement road, but decided the pillars would look ugly.
Marjorie Emmanuel, who serves as Planning's Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning program, said that her staff would review the permit request before making a decision.
The project also needs a Coastal Zone Management permit since it sits in the first tier. "You will have to revisit the access because it will be an issue during the CZM process," she said.
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