Downtown Lebanon apartment proposal shrinks following pushback

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/14/2020 9:47:24 PM
Modified: 10/14/2020 9:47:19 PM

LEBANON — A Hanover-based developer has cut plans for a proposed five-story apartment building that neighbors worried would loom over Bank Street and surrounding homes in downtown Lebanon.

The 29-unit building across from the AVA Gallery and Arts Center, first pitched in October, was not included in scaled-back plans Jolin Kish presented to the Lebanon Planning Board on Tuesday night.

Kish said the building was trimmed from the project after city officials in July denied it several waivers, effectively killing efforts to bring 40 new apartments to the neighborhood.

Instead, she plans on constructing an 18-unit, three-story apartment building at 14 Bank St., which is now home to a boarding house.

That new structure, Kish said, is based on designs from the one that was recently panned.

“We just took what the building was and cut it in half, took the parking lot from under it and turned it 90 degrees,” she told the Planning Board during its Tuesday meeting.

Kish said plans for a two-floor parking garage also are dead. Under the new plans, parking would be distributed in 58 spaces along driveways and in the rear of 14 and 10 Bank St.

“In order to make the building shorter, we needed to take the parking out from under the building,” she said. “And when you take the parking out from under the building, you have to put it somewhere.”

If approved, the new 14 Bank St. would be made up solely of two-bedroom apartments. The rectangular-shaped building would have entrances to its front and rear, with a tower adorning its street-facing side.

Sue Reed, an architect working for Kish, said the tower is meant to resemble those on surrounding buildings, such as 28 Bank St.

“We’re trying to step down from the mass (of the previous proposal) but give some personality to the building,” Reed said.

Neighboring 10 Bank St. which already has five apartments, also would receive an addition, adding on three more. Overall, Kish plans to bring 21 new apartments to the two lots located next to the Lebanon  Public  Library.

Planning Board members appeared to welcome the changes, saying they reflect months of testimony from neighbors who grew concerned that a five-story building would overlook their homes.

“I am very happy to see that they are not being impacted by that,” Board member Kathie Romano said during the meeting.

Still, there was some criticism of the new 14 Bank St.’s design, with some comparing it to a college dorm.

“What stands out to me is that the classic New England look is a steep-pitched roof so that the snow will go off,” said Board member Joan Monroe.

The tower, she added, is “pretty but I just see it more like a castle or a dominating influence rather than blending in.”

Neighbors weren’t given an opportunity to speak during Tuesday’s meeting, but many are already aware of the new plans, according to Green Street resident Mary Ann Mastro.

“Most people’s initial reaction is ‘How delightful,’ ” she said Wednesday, adding that some folks are relieved to see fewer units and smaller structures being pitched.

However, Mastro called the new building proposed for 14 Bank St. “ugly” and said it doesn’t reflect the historic character of the surrounding homes.

“Bank Street, or Route 4 coming into Lebanon, it makes a presence, it sets a tone,” she said. “If you have old homes, maybe they’re not perfect and pristine but it looks like an established neighborhood, not like some cheap architecture that was thrown in.”

The Planning Board will next discuss the Bank Street project when it meets on Monday, Dec. 14.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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