Planners delay River Club permit

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The Planning Commission on Tuesday delayed action that would allow the developer of a planned upscale subdivision in northern Suffolk to add 72 houses to the project.

L.M. Sandler and Sons Inc. has applied for a permit to build 377 homes in River Club, a development off Shoulders Hill Road, under the city’s cluster development density bonus program. The incentive program rewards developers of cluster subdivisions who voluntarily leave additional open space by allowing them to build more homes on smaller lots than required.

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Based on the current zoning, the developers can build 305 homes without the planning commission’s endorsement.

Last year, after discovering flaws in the formula used to determine how many extra homes a developer qualifies to build, city lawmakers modified program qualifications.

However, River Club is one of four development requests that had already been filed; and is consequently being grandfathered in under the former clause.

If the city approves the permit, Sandler will deliver on $550,000 in proffers, said Whitney Saunders, the developers’ attorney. Plans call for the company to donate $265,000 toward a middle school construction/renovation project and fund road improvements – including additional traffic lanes, signs and a stop light – along Shoulders Hill Road.

After several board members asked for additional information and a couple of nearby residents expressed worries about the project, the commission voted unanimously to table a decision for 30 days.

The developer is slated to meet with the neighborhood association of Bayberry Cove on July 28.

&uot;My perception is that this is not really a cluster subdivision; that it is a subdivision taking advantage of the cluster incentive,&uot; Commissioner Brian Pritchard said.

&uot;Those expenses almost always get passed on to the consumers,&uot; he said.

&uot;It almost always takes the affordable out of affordable housing.&uot;

Commissioner William Goodman asked city planners to collect more financial data on the project.

River Club homes are expected to sell for $400,000 and will add considerable money to the city coffers in real estate taxes, Saunders said. Ten years after all the homes are occupied, the development is expected to generate an estimated $16.8 million in property taxes, he added.