CONWAY — Highlighting the Conway Zoning Board of Adjustment's agenda tonight will be request for a special exception from Settlers Green developer Robert Barsamian, who seeks increased density for a building comprising 20 workforce housing units to go up on a 1.5-acre lot just south of DQ Grill and Chill in North Conway.
The developers want a variance to allow 18.2 units per acre at 1549 White Mountain Highway (permitted density is 12 units per acre).
The plan from Mark Lucy of White Mountain Survey and Engineering of Ossipee shows a 45-seat restaurant is also envisioned.
They are also seeking a variance to allow an interactive menu board with speakers and drive-up window within 600 feet of a residential property and the Residential Agricultural District.
The property is served by municipal sewer and water.
“We need a special exception to increase density to give us the chance to make this successful,” Barsamian told the Sun in a Monday phone interview. “They will be studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. They will be a little smaller but a lot nicer than your typical apartment.”
He described the plan as having a “community” feel to it.
“There will be common or group space in the building, with a kind of community living, common space. For example, we will be targeting young professionals or salespeople or someone who works from home: They won’t need office space in their unit because there will be office space in the common area," Barsamian said
"The lower level will have a full basement for storage space for skis, bikes and other gear. There will be shared decks, and a fire pit and common green space.”
He said he consulted with several economists and housing professionals, some of whom have questioned the viability of the project, but he says he is determined to make a go of it, noting, “It’s very hard to make this workforce housing without a (government) subsidy, but we feel we have enough people working at Settlers Green and people want to be at that end of the valley. We feel we can make it work.”
He said the units will measure between 400 square feet and 1,000 square feet.
“There will be a range. We have not yet determined what the rents that we would charge will be. We will back into that a bit, but it has to be in what the market can demand,” said Barsamian.
He said there is a possibility solar panels will be installed. The goal is to make the units as heat-efficient as possible.
“It won’t be a green building, but it will be efficient,” he said.
He said his company bought the lot from Agnes Birch “two to three years ago.”
Barsamian said Settlers Green currently has about 700 employees. “Once Market Basket (currently tied up in litigation with Bellevue Properties, owners of the North Conway Grand Hotel, over parking issues), we will have over 1,000” employees, he said.
Barsamian said the workforce housing would help entice and keep employees at Settlers Green and the area, while adding that the units would be available to all and not just Settlers Green workers.
“We’re doing this because we have to have some workforce housing to excite managers and assistant managers and bring them to Settlers Green," he said.
"I want a good working and living environment. This will add to what we can offer for the community and for Settlers Green. We need workers, and they need a place to live."
The ZBA is also scheduled to hear a request for a special exception from CMR Properties LLC to allow construction of a resort hotel at Cranmore Mountain Resort on the site of the Cranmore Fitness Center in the Recreational Resort District at 165 Skimobile Road.
The scheduled hearing was continued from the ZBA’s Sept. 18 meeting.
Cranmore also has a request for a special exception to allow pavement within the wetland buffer on the same lot.
The full agenda also includes a request by Mountain Top Music Center in the newly renovated Majestic Block to appeal an administrative decision of the Conway Building Construction Code by the town building inspector, who issued a building permit to an abutter to renovate an apartment building that suffered a fire a year and a half ago.
Frank Benesh, treasurer for Mountain Top, said they have expressed through their consultant Shawn Bergeron their concerns that Town Building Inspector David Pandora in his issuance of a building permit to the abutter, Matthew Donarumo, did not require him to use what they feel are adequate fire-resistant materials.
“That building is 5 feet from the theater building," Benesh said Tuesday. "As near as we can tell from plans, they are not following the building code as we understand that requires them to use certain fire resistant materials … Pandora has not responded to our concerns, so we are taking it to the ZBA for an appeal."
The board is also to act on:
• A request from Scott and Trisha Doyle for a special exception to allow for an accessory dwelling unit at 252 Ash Street in North Conway.
• A request for a variance by McDonald’s Corp. to allow a digital main menu board and a digital secondary menu board at 1750 White Mountain Highway.
• A request for a variance by Deborah Kelly to allow the cutting of between five and and 10 small saplings within the wetland and Watershed Protection Overlay District at 32 Lee Lane, Conway (PID 262-37).
Kelly also is seeking a special exception to allow filling and smoothing of a sloughing slope within the Floodplain Conservation Overlay District at the same location.
The meeting is set to get underway at 7 p.m. tonight. For more information, call the Conway Planning Department at (603) 447-3811, Ext. 4.