Joan Lawrence-Bauer, who is director of communication and resource development for RUPCO, confirmed in a July 27 interview that ground had been broken on July 22. Earlier that day, the town Building Department issued a new building permit for the 53-unit project, in conformance with the terms of an amended Planning Board resolution that the planning agency adopted the night before, at its July 21 meeting.
“The construction activity brings to a close an eight-year development and approval process and commences (the) building of the first new affordable housing to be constructed in the town in nearly 30 years,” said RUPCO in a July 26 news release.
The Building Department and the Planning Board were required to retrace their procedural steps when it was discovered that the conditions of a previous building permit for Woodstock Commons, issued on July 7, conflicted with conditions stipulated in a final resolution that the Planning Board adopted in August 2010, some six years after the board undertook its role as lead agency for an environmental review of the project.
The amended Planning Board resolution and the new building permit require RUPCO to satisfy certain conditions related to the elements of the project’s infrastructure, such as water and sewer mains and lighting, after the infrastructure is in place. The town will issue a certificate of occupancy if the conditions are duly fulfilled. The original resolution stated that the conditions had to be met before a building permit would be issued, that is, before work could begin on the infrastructure.
Signs of site-preparation activity were evident during a visit to the western end of the parcel, off Elwyn Quarry Road, on the evening of July 26, after normal working hours. Posted on a maple tree at the entrance to a dirt access road were laminated copies of the building permit and a driveway curb-cut permit. Less than 100 yards down the access road, a backhoe sat idle behind a mesh construction fence.
Lawrence-Bauer said in the interview that RUPCO envisions an 18-month construction schedule for the $16 million project. The first order of business is the completion of the access road, which will provide a thoroughfare into the site for equipment and personnel. No timetable has been set for other elements of the project, including the construction of a bridge over Ferguson Creek off Playhouse Lane, at the eastern boundary of the parcel, said Lawrence-Bauer.
Continuing the fight; turning the page
Meanwhile, Iris York, a leading opponent of the project, said in a July 27 interview that the Zoning Board of Appeals was scheduled to consider her appeal of the town’s issuance of the original building permit at the ZBA’s July 28 meeting. York contends that the town’s action violated the August 2010 Planning Board resolution and was therefore illegal. “The town made its first mistake in allowing the building permit to be issued in violation of the Planning Board resolution,” said York. “We will continue to fight.”
RUPCO’s executive director, Kevin O’Connor, issued a statement welcoming the latest developments. “Right now we just want to turn the page and move forward,” said O’Connor in the news release. “This project has been so long delayed that once we had all permits in place, we wanted to get started and not lose a single day in the construction season.”++