Former Brewery Developer Wants 12 Condos Instead

by | May 6, 2021

The developer who proposed a microbrewery and tap room behind Anderson’s Ski and Dive on Post Road two years ago is now proposing a 12-unit condo complex in the same location.

A view from Franklin Road of the proposed condominiums.

Proposed by John Holmander of Pilot Properties, the new project at 25 Franklin Rd. would include two buildings with six two-bedroom units each. Three of the total 12 units would be classified as affordable housing. The project includes 77,972 square feet of land, although the two lots there would be reconfigured for the project.

Holmander bought the property several years ago to build “Greenwich Bay Brewery,” but after pushback from neighbors regarding the brewery’s impact on traffic and proximity to a school route, Holmander dropped the project. He said he then read the town’s comprehensive plan to guide him towards a project more aligned with the area’s needs. At first Holmander considered proposing an apartment complex with 20 units, but changed the plan upon realizing the 12-unit plan with two bedrooms each would better transition from the nearby highway as well as serve his target demographic of retirees, young professionals and “snowbirds.”

Holmander brought the proposal forward for a pre-application review at Wednesday’s Planning Board meeting. Member Matt Yoder asked about potential flooding in the area, which was also a concern when Holmander proposed the microbrewery in the same location. The flooding came from a drainage swale that runs through the River Farm neighborhood which has caused some flooding in the past. Holmander said the project’s elevation will be made high enough to avoid flooding. 

Planning Director Lisa Bourbonnais said having analyzed the sight before, she was not worried about the site flooding as much as the nearby street flooding.

“We were worried about street flooding, and that is in large part due to when the town is unable to properly maintain the drainage easement,” Bourbonnais said. “And a lot of that does have to do with neighborhood activity. So as long as everybody’s behaving well and the adjacent site is properly maintained we do expect that this project will be able to be engineered out to handle all of its own site drainage on site.”

When asked by Planning Board Chairman Nate Ginsburg if the project would require a zoning change, Holmander said he’d only need slight relief to add additional parking. 

During public comment, River Farm resident David Gecawich voiced concern regarding flooding in the area. Ritesh Rathore, whose property is right across from Franklin Road, agreed that flooding concerns are a real issue but also said putting the condos’ entrance at Post Road could mitigate parking overflow.

Also Wednesday night, the board approved a one-year extension of the New England Institute of Technology’s campus master plan. The master plan includes an already completed dormitory and addition to an administrative building, with a new academic building and another dormitory awaiting completion, according to Bourbonnais. The plan was approved in 2015 and was supposed to wrap in 2020, but was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The board granted New England Tech a one-year extension last year for the same reasons. 

In addition, the board discussed a resident’s proposal to add an additional unit to his residence on 50 Vine Street. Bob Plain, the property owner, said he already rents out the residence and wants to convert a small barn on the property into a two-car garage with a second-floor apartment. However, the 6,686-square-foot lot is undersized for two units under zoning laws that require 10,000 square feet for two units, and board Chair Ginsburg was concerned about the precedent that would be set if they approved the project. This was a pre-application review, so no decision was made on the project.

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