The odd shape of one of the proposed four lots on the property that contains the stone Castle structure became an issue at the Monroe Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) on Thursday night.
The plan by developer John Kimball to subdivide 16.7 aces on upper Route 111 includes one lot (known as Lot 2) that is connected to the road in the front by a thin strip, and also has another extensive thin strip in the rear that connects to a cell tower.
Whether that lot fits the town recommendation for newly created lots to be “as nearly rectangular” as possible was debated by Kimball representatives, P&Z members and land-use staff. There also were questions about whether this lot would constitute a regular zoning lot or be a “rear lot” under the regulations, in which case different requirements would apply.
P&Z members said Lot 2 would be “odd-shaped” and be “a very irregular shape.”
Lot 2 now has 30-foot-wide connector strip
Kimball has offered to widen the strip that connects Lot 2 to Route 111. It is now 30 feet wide in the application, but his plan may be changed to make it vary from 50 feet to 200 feet wide. The change would alter the sizes of two of the four proposed lots.
The strip likely will have to be widened to secure zoning approval, although it’s uncertain if that will happen voluntarily by the developer altering the application or if it will be done by the P&Z as a condition of approval.
Kimball’s representatives insist Lot 2 is not a rear lot. “In our opinion, the four lots comply with the zoning regulations,” said Kevin Solli, and engineer with Solli Engineering who represented Kimball.
Will buy land from religious group
Kimball, operating as Stone Castle Investments LLC, plans to buy the 16.7-acre parcel from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and create four lots. One would include The Castle, one would include the nearby stone cottage and a cell tower, and the other two would be for new houses with driveways off Crown View Drive.
Kimball has a contingent agreement to purchase the 16.7 acres from the Sisters, but the transaction has not taken place yet.
The four-lot subdivision at 1428 Monroe Tpke. has been approved by the Inland Wetlands Commission, and the P&Z has created a new Landmark Property Development zoning designation that would allow The Castle project — and others that fit the same criteria — to be considered.
The four-lot subdivision would include an evergreen tree buffer along parts of Crown View Drive, and two rain gardens to control water run-off. More trees will be added along Route 111 as a buffer if the existing trees aren’t considered sufficient or if some of those trees need to be removed to develop the sites.
Inland Wetlands sign-off and land records filing
Other issues that arose are the need for Kimball to get Inland Wetlands Commission approval for any change from the lot lines in the original approval, and whether the P&Z can even consider the four-lot subdivision before the 16.7 acres becomes an officially-recognized parcel by being filed in the town land records.
Kimball representatives said the Sisters do not want to file that paperwork before they are certain zoning approval will be granted for a plan that would preserve The Castle.
Creating the overall 16.7-acre parcel does not require zoning approval because it would be the “first cut” of the Sisters’ larger 141-acre property that has never been subdivided since the town created subdivision regulations. The Sisters’ property is known as Marian Heights and also includes a convent, former Catholic school and other small structures.
Frustration with lengthy process
Kimball expressed some frustration with the lengthy process at the meeting, pointing out he began working to preserve The Castle last June at the urging of some town officials. “We probably could create eight lots,” he said of the 16.7-acre parcel.
Kimball said whether the 16.7-acre parcel needed to formally filed in the town land records before a subdivision of the parcel could be considered was “a legal gray area … We don’t believe it’s required.”
He suggested the P&Z should seek its own legal guidance on the issue.
Application hearing continued
The public hearing on the application was continued so Kimball can seek an approval letter from the Inland Wetlands Commission for the possible change in the property lot lines, and so the P&Z can look into whether a subdivision can be considered for a parcel that has not formally been created from a larger property.
“There’s options as long as the hearing is open,” P&Z Chairman Patrick O’Hara said of the ongoing process.