The Water Street Townhomes project gained support from the Plymouth Board of Public Works and Safety on Monday evening.

City Attorney Sean Surrisi began the project discussion by explaining the funding.  This project received READI Grant funds in 2022 in the amount of $520,000.  The Plymouth Redevelopment Commission also pledged the public matching funds of $800,000 and the developer, Kevin Berger will provide the private funding. 

Surrisi said for this project to move forward they will need a couple of variances from the Plymouth Board of Zoning Appeals and approvals from the Board of Public Works and Safety. 

Developer Kevin Berger attended the meeting and said the property they plan to develop at the northwest corner of Garro and Water Streets is currently divided into 7 lots.  They plan to combine those parcels into 2 lots, one for the homes and the rear parking area that will be city-owned.

Berger said the project is to construct 12 townhomes along Water Street with 2 – 2-bedroom flats and some commercial space. These will all be rentals.

To maximize the parking area being given back to the city they will need a parking lot size variance from the city standard of 10×20 to 9×19 that meets the DOT standard and is the same size parking spaces in the LaPorte Street parking lot. The second variance needed is the requirement for off-street parking because the renters will be able to use the city lot directly behind their homes.  The third variance is to reduce the parking lane restriction from 20 feet to 17 feet.  The fourth variance is a side yard setback from the required 20 feet to 7 feet and the final variance is a rear yard setback from 10 feet to 2.6 feet.

Berger asked for the Board of Public Works and Safety’s support for the variance requests to the Plymouth Board of Zoning Appeals. 

The next request Mr. Berger wanted was support for dealing with the sanitary sewer that will run in Garro Street and up through the parking lot to the townhomes.  The discussions have been this is a project that could be completed in-house to save on the overall cost of the project.  It will allow the city to schedule the work on its time frame instead of that of a contractor.  He also said the stormwater control for the development including the homes and parking lot would be a dry well system under the parking lot.  Berger said that is what is in the parking lot now and they would improve and expand it to meet the new regulations.  This could also be approved in-house and not require state approval. 

The connection to the city’s storm sewer would still be at Garro Street and he thinks putting in a new line would be better than connecting to the existing one.  He also said they would do it at the same time as the sewer improvement.

Mr. Berger also asked for permission to put a landscaped rain garden in at the southwest corner of the parking lot.  They want to pick up some of the water running down the alley and filter it through the rain garden.  Currently, that water runs into the street.    

There were lots of questions including from Utility Superintendent Donnie Davidson who will maintain the rain garden and suggested it be under the control of the developer.

Clerk-Treasurer Lynn Gorski asked about green space for the dogs already living downtown that use that grassy area to go to the bathroom.    

City Councilman asked about parking for residents and Berger said the plan is to have all parking open to everyone.  They have discussed the possibility of the city leasing out spaces to residents for a fee and providing a hang tag. He said for the number of spaces there, it shouldn’t be necessary to restrict any parking in the lot.  Typically, renters will be using the lot in the evening and on weekends, and shoppers and the downtown businesses during the day. 

Street Superintendent Jim Marquardt asked about snow stacking in the wintertime. He said they would have to use the islands or parking lots to pile the snow on.

Mayor Senter asked who would reline the parking lot and Mr. Berger said he could pave and stripe the parking lot, or the city could do the project as part of their $800,000 match required by the READI Grant. He said if it was worked in with the city’s other paving projects it would save on mobilization costs.

Councilman Jeff Houin said the variances being requested of the BZA will help to determine the finalization of the developer’s plans. 

Councilman Greg Compton expressed his concern about not providing reserved parking spaces for the townhome residents and Houin said we always have the option to create reserved parking.  He also said there is a parking lot across the street that is never full residents can use along with street parking.

Following further discussion on the requests by developer Kevin Berger the Plymouth Board of Public Works and Safety motioned their support requesting 5 variances from the Board of Zoning Appeals.  They approved the use of dry wells for stormwater along with approval of the addition of a rain garden. The motion passed with a 5-0 vote.