ZBA Reschedules’ Project’s Public Hearing

WASHINGTON — Residents are wondering if the third time will be the charm for the Wyke­ham Rise public hearing before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Last week’s second attempt to hold a hearing on the 27-acre project was abruptly canceled in late afternoon on the day it was scheduled, July 16, due to a glitch in the legal noticing of the meeting. The hearing had been changed a week earlier from July 17 to July 16.

The Wykeham Rise application for a resort on the site of an abandoned private girls’ school at 101 Wykeham Road, filed in late May, was not included on the June agenda of ZBA because the agenda had its maximum five items, according to Washing­ton land use officials. The public hearing is now rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thurs­day, July 31, in Bryan Memorial Town Hall.

Public hearings for Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning, Zon­ing and Inland Wetlands require two legal notices placed in a newspaper that is widely circu­lated, such as Voices, within spe­cific time frames. Last Wednesday’s planned ZBA meeting fell one day short of the needed time period. The Wykeham project is this summer’s hot topic in Washing­ton and a large enough crowd was expected at the ZBA public hearing that it had been moved to the town hall auditorium from the usual land use meeting room downstairs.

Residents opposing the project have been turning up at land use meetings for several months, even though they have not been allowed to speak yet. The ZBA meeting will be the public’s first opportunity to weigh in on the project. The Inland Wetlands Commis­sion public hearing opens tonight. Wednesday, July 23, and the Zoning Commission will begin hearing comments Mon­day, July 28, at 7:30 p.m. However, the project will stall without the variance it requires for additional lot coverage from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Originally, the plans, which included a restaurant and spa, a number of smaller cottages, ten­nis courts and a swimming pool, called for 17.6 percent lot cover­age, nearly 8 percent over the town’s maximum coverage of 10 percent. Developer Matthew Klauer, who owns the property, has downsized the project to 11.99 percent coverage in response, he says, to public input and it is this plan that will be presented to ZBA next week.

The revised plan calls for a smaller main building than orig­inally proposed and fewer rooms. According to Mr. Klauer, the footprint has been reduced while integrating the cottages into the landscape.

Opposition from neighbors to the project has been vocal, but many residents are in favor of seeing an inn on the property that currently houses seven dilapidated buildings. To date, roughly 70 letters have been received at the town’s land use office in support of the plan. Mr. Klauer said in response to comments that the project did not reflect New England style enough; he has hired Moisan Architects of Woodbury to take over the project. “It is now much more contextually sensitive and will comple­ment the Washington neighbor­hood,” he reported.

The resort will not contain con­dominiums, he points out, and a thick vegetative four-season buffer is planned to screen the property from the road. The inn’s restaurant will be open to the public. The Inland Wetlands Commis­sion is expected to request an independent environmental assessment on the project before it reaches a decision on the application, and the Zoning Commission will not move until the lot coverage question has been resolved at the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Inland Wetlands public hearing begins tonight at 7 p.m. at Bryan Memorial Town Hall. Each commission takes only comments that are pertinent to its jurisdiction; for example, Inland Wetlands will hear com­ments related to wetlands, and the Zoning Board of Appeals will take comments regarding lot coverage. More general issues such as traffic and impact will be heard by the Zoning Commission.

By Ann Compton – Voices News

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