Local Government

Cary affordable senior housing project headed back to zoning board

PIRHL developer questioning how zoning board handled voting

CARY — The affordable senior housing project proposed for the parcel behind the Jewel-Osco on Route 14 will be reconsidered by the Board of Zoning, Planning and Appeals after a divided Village Board voted to send the project back to that level at its Tuesday meeting.

The decision came after developer David Burg of the developer PIRHL raised questions about the way the zoning board handled voting at its review Dec. 10.

Burg said the zoning board spent a collective 31 minutes discussing a text amendment and conditional use for the building, which were both approved. The board spent fewer then four total minutes discussing variances for ground floor units and density, both of which were rejected.

“It was sort of a frustrating experience, because we sort of got mixed messages," Burg said. "It was pretty late when we started getting into the voting. We spent less and less time on each piece, although the pieces became arguably more important."

Because of the mixed vote from the zoning board, passage on Tuesday would have required four positive votes from trustees. The second zoning board hearing could happen as soon as Jan. 28, and if the zoning board changes its recommendation, a supermajority may no longer be needed.

The trustees were evenly split, with trustees Dave Chapman, Rick Dudek and Ellen McAlpine expressing support for the project and trustees Jim Cosler, Kim Covelli and Jeff Kraus not in support.

After the trustees could not agree to bring the item to a vote, Chapman, Dudek, McAlpine and Village President Mark Kownick voted to send it back to the zoning board.

Cosler questioned Burg's assertions that most of the building's tenants would come from Cary, that this project was not government subsidized housing, that a market rate developer would not be able to keep rents down and that the tax credits for the project were the same as the home mortgage interest deduction.

He said he would prefer another location because he did not want to allow a residential use on this land, which is zoned business park, because of the precedent it would set.

"I don’t think this has anything to do with senior housing," Cosler said. "In reality, this has to do with the use of that parcel of land. Most people don’t agree, in this town, that this use is appropriate."

Covelli said she wanted to work on bringing more business to Cary, and Kraus said he felt the village could do better for seniors than this project.

Those in favor said they wanted to provide a way for Cary's seniors to remain in the village and pointed out that the site had not generated retail interest.

Chapman and Dudek also criticized the way the zoning board handled the initial review.

"I’m incensed, and I want to do everything I can to give you a fair hearing," Chapman said. "If it dies after a fair hearing that’s the way it goes. You’re here, and you deserve to have an honest hearing, and that’s what we want to give you."

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