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Residents oppose apartment rezoning

Residents living near proposed luxury apartments pleaded with Hamburg Town Board members Monday night to turn down a rezoning that would allow construction of the 11 buildings west of Heatherwood Drive and east of Camp Road.

"We want you to side with us," said Heidi Hodgson, who lives on Howard Road, near where a new road would be built.

She said she is concerned about the increase in traffic on Howard and the effect of the development on wildlife. She was among more than a dozen residents speaking at a public hearing on the request by Boston State Holding to rezone 8.1 of 10 acres from R-2, single-family residence, to R-3, which would allow multiple dwellings or condominiums, hospitals, nursing homes, colleges and dorms.

The developer wants to build 66 luxury units, with apartments of 700 to 1,000 square feet. The rent would be $1.20 per square foot, or $1,200 per month for the larger apartments, said Sean Hopkins, attorney for the developer. Hopkins called the apartments town homes and said they would be marketed to empty nesters, young professionals and affluent seniors.

Hopkins said the R-3 zoning provides a good transition from the commercial property along Camp to the single-family zone on Heatherwood and other surrounding streets. The company could build 38 duplex units without a rezoning, he said.

John Percy, of Heatherwood, said petitions with 137 signatures against the project have been presented to the town. "We are not here to quash new development," he said. "Does the town want or need this type of rental unit?"

He said there are more than 1,200 rental units in a 1.5-mile radius of the project. He said the current zoning is acceptable to the neighborhood. He noted that on two separate surveys of the type of development wanted in the town, residents have ranked apartments last.

Lynn Olson, also of Heatherwood, said homeowners take pride in their property and their neighborhood. "We don't want renters," she said.

Heatherwood resident Janet Plarr said she checked the zoning of the property adjacent to her house before buying the property 13 years ago. She bought because it was R-2, she said, adding that changing the zoning today would not be fair to those who did their homework.

Hopkins said the developers seek to enhance the current 100-foot conservation easement along the backyards on Heatherwood, with an additional 50-foot conservation easement. He offered to meet with residents and said a meeting was held in May.

Supervisor Steven Walters said the comment period would remain open for 10 days. He said the soonest the board would vote on the rezoning would be Jan. 14.