Planning Board allows special permit for senior apartment building

May 22, 2018

The Planning Board gave its approval for construction of a 55-unit senior apartment building on Dartmouth Street, paving the way for the town’s first such building in recent years.

Following a public hearing on May 21, the Planning Board granted a special permit to developer Claremont Companies to demolish the existing 676 Dartmouth Street Gifford Marine building and replace it with a 25,275 square foot apartment building for those age 55 and older.

The company, which also owns the nearby Solemar apartment complex, bought the vacant property in 2011 for $1.15 million.

The board granted the special permit on the condition that if the Department of Public Works or Dartmouth Fire District No. 1 Chief Brad Ellis requests changes which deviate too much from the approved plans, the company must come before the board again.

The decision was made due to a lack of comments received from the departments before the meeting. Board members considered keeping the public hearing open to allow for more time to file comments, but decided against it due to timing issues.

“It’s incumbent [on] various entities in this town to give everything to us in a timely fashion, otherwise we’re going to be holding up developers week after week after week,” board member Lorri-Ann Miller said.

Residents and nearby property owners spoke at the hearing about their concerns with privacy, lighting, and trash. One Dartmouth resident questioned whether the property would be a gated community like Solemar.

Christian Farland, the engineer on the project, said the area can’t be gated because a nearby Rite Aid shares a common access point. The building and underground parking lot will be secured with keycards.

Another Dartmouth resident, who lives next to the property, asked how far the parking lot lights span and how bright they are. The resident said too much light seeps into his bedroom from Rite Aid. The developers said the parking lot lighting should not cause any problems, and they do meet town zoning requirements.

Farland also assured board member Joseph Toomey garbage would not overflow or create a stench in the building. Trash will be collected every day, if not multiple times a day, and there is also a disinfection unit in the building.

A carport, above ground parking spaces, a fire pit in the back along with a seating area, a gym, and the use of transportation and recreation services provided at the Solemar location were also discussed. The property will include a 57-space underground parking garage.

Planning Board members asked for more sidewalks and a walking trail to be added to the design, along with benches.

“It looks like it’s going to be a nicely landscaped facility and I would like to see that taken advantage of [by] providing some safe passive recreation and I think that this age group will probably be looking for,” board member John Sousa said.

Claremont Companies CEO Patrick Carney also noted the building will not be named Solemar III, which was a listed project scheduled to be finished in 2019 on the company’s website. Instead, Carney said the company is holding a contest to name the building.

Overall, the board was delighted to have a senior housing project come before them.

“I have to agree I think there’s a need in this town for this kind of development and certainly will be an improvement for what’s there,” Sousa said.

Construction is expected to begin in the fall and the process will take about 14 months to complete. Carney said the company is looking at a price range of $1,500 for a one bedroom apartment through $1,700-$1,800 for a two bedroom apartment. He noted the units are larger than Solemar.