Swanzey considering 18-unit housing proposal
Two 8-unit buildings and a duplex proposed for 'higher salary' working professionals
Swanzey’s zoning board of adjustment is scheduled to hold an on-site public hearing Aug. 21 for a proposed $3 million, 18-unit housing development.
The project is being pitched for 11 Sylvan Way, a 1.52-acre parcel surrounded by single-family residential properties, according to a packet from the board’s July 17 meeting. The site is currently occupied by a three-family structure.
According to the application, Jamison VanDyke of Rindge is proposing building two eight-unit buildings and converting the existing three-family building into a duplex. Plans for the project also show 45 parking spaces. VanDyke said that the two new structures and the duplex would each be two stories.
VanDyke, who said he built a similar development in Rindge called Kathleen’s Place, said these new units would be rented out at more than $2,000 per month.
“They’re really nice places, so we’re targeting a higher salary demographic,” he said. “These would be for professionals looking to work in the area.”
With this new proposal, VanDyke said he’s hoping to expand the housi supply in the area. According to the 2023 Residential Rental Cost Survey that NH Housing released July 19, the rental vacancy rate in Cheshire County is 1.8 percent. A healthy rate would be 5 percent.
“There’s a huge need for housing,” VanDyke said. “We’re trying to meet that need as best as possible.”
VanDyke said he is in the process of purchasing the property from its current owner, Nancy Mclean. According to the zoning board packet, 11 Sylvan Way is assessed at $183,600.
Sarah Bollinger, Swanzey’s town planner, said VanDyke’s proposal needs a special exception from the zoning board, because the property is in the town’s business district. Any multifamily development (three units or more) in that area requires zoning board approval, she said.
VanDyke’s application went before the zoning board briefly at its July 17 meeting, when a public hearing had been scheduled. According to meeting minutes, board chair Keith Thibault suggested the public hearing be continued to August to allow for a site visit and time for board members to review new material relating to the application. This motion passed unanimously.
Bollinger said VanDyke’s proposal has generated public interest, though not more than might be usual for a development like this.
“I think the reason why is because it’s a very densely populated neighborhood,” she said. “There are a lot of abutters.”
According to the agenda packet for the zoning board’s July meeting, there are seven abutting properties.
One of them belongs to Richard Algeni Jr., who lives at 8 Sylvan Way and said he’s concerned with the project. Algeni said he has a form of muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair as a result. When visiting his family members who live farther down the road, Algeni has to operate his wheelchair on the road since there are no sidewalks, which he said could be more dangerous with many more new neighbors.
“I’m a little concerned about the increased traffic that (this development) will bring to my little road here,” he said. “I don’t think the road is built for that amount of traffic. … I don’t believe it’s in the best interest of Swanzey to do this right here.”
VanDyke said that while some people may oppose his project, there remains a high demand for housing and a low supply to meet it.
“I understand that as human beings, change is often difficult for a lot of us,” he said, speaking generally about opposition to the project. “Our area is changing. It’s growing slowly, but it is growing.”
If the zoning board OKs VanDyke’s application, his site plan would then require approval from the planning board, Bollinger said.
If that happens, VanDyke anticipates construction would take about eight months to complete.
The site visit at 11 Sylvan Way, where the public hearing will continue, is scheduled for Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. The zoning board will then reconvene at its regular meeting at Whitcomb Hall at 7 p.m.
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