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No action taken on proposed apartments

SoVaNow.com / July 28, 2021
The Clarksville Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, in separate meetings last week, took no action on a request from Stefan Stolarz and Ania Stolarz to build apartments on a 1.25 acre lot on Eighth Street in Clarksville.

The Planning Commission met July 20 and the Board of Zoning Appeals met July 21.

The couple is asking the town to grant a variance and a special use permit that would allow them to construct 12 two-bedroom and four one-bedroom market rate apartments. The complex would located be on two parcels of land they are purchasing from Delta Bowers, Cathy Wynsong-Charity, Carmen Daugherty, Todd Palilla and Sally Regan at 215 and 217 Eighth Street.

Currently the property is a vacant lot covered with trees and mixed vegetation. In the past, a True Value hardware store warehouse sat on the property. It was demolished more than a decade ago.

Town Manager Jeff Jones said the proposed apartment complex requires a special use permit approved by the Planning Commission as well as the approval of a variance by the Board of Zoning Appeals to move forward. Based on the Town’s current zoning ordinance, the size of the project calls for there to be at least two acres of land.

A variance is needed to allow the project to move forward on the smaller, 1.25 acre lot.

Additionally, all apartment units proposed for an R-3 district must first receive a special use permit from the town before construction can begin.

Based on the information provided by Stolarz and Gerald Hooton, an engineering consultant with B& B Consultants, Jones, in his capacity as the town’s zoning administrator, told the planners and the board of zoning appeals that the project does not have the required minimum lot size of two acres to accommodate both the building and required parking without a variance.

He noted that “since the property is bordered by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property, it provides additional open space in and around the proposed project to compensate for the lack of the required lot size.”

Jones also noted that the plan submitted by Stolarz does include 32 parking spaces which is in line with the parking requirements set forth in the Clarksville zoning ordinance.

A handful of neighboring landowners raised objections to the project.

Charles H. Harris III, whose family property backs up to the proposed apartment site, was concerned that the project’s proposed five-foot setback would allow residents and visitors to the apartments to encroach into his back yard. He also said the information supplied by the developer was insufficient to assess the feasibility of such a project for the area.

Of particular concern was the image of the apartments circulated by the developer. It showed a three-story building. Hooton, in his capacity as consulting engineer, told the planning commission and the board of zoning appeals that the apartment building would be only two stories.

He said the drawing provided to neighbors and the town was “conceptual,” not actual as no final plans existed.

Lois Howerton, whose property lies to the north of the proposed apartment site, said she and her family planned to build a home on their lot and retire to Clarksville. She did not want a large apartment complex as her neighbor. Charles Wilson, whose home sits to the west of the complex across Eighth Street, said the proposed location of dumpsters posed a noise and odor problem for him.

Laurie Lejda, who lives with her husband Mike east of the property on Seventh Street, worried about traffic congestion at the site. “The roads are very narrow and there are already parking issues, particularly during festivals,” said Lejda.

She worried that with only two parking spaces allotted for each apartment, visitors to the complex would start parking along on the street, clogging an already congested area.

Bowers, speaking via video, said it has been her goal to bring new development to the area and that is why she agreed to sell the land to Stefan and Ania Stolarz. Stefan Stolarz, who also spoke to the commission and board members via video, said he wanted to bring much-needed additional housing to Clarksville.

The Stolarzes currently own River Wynd Apartments on Burlington Drive. As these are government-subsidized residential units, he has had to turn away a number of prospective tenants looking to live in Clarksville “because they make too much money.”

Hooton promised that “the development improvements and exterior building facades will be in harmony with the surrounding residential neighborhood and comply with current town ordinances and codes.” Notwithstanding those assurances, both boards agreed to hold off approval for both the variance and the special use permit.

Jones promised to reconvene both boards within the next couple of weeks after allowing members time to review the requests.

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