Frankford considers four-duplex project

Frankford resident Dean Esham addressed the town’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission last week (April 7 P&Z meeting), asking for a change of zone to accommodate four duplexes at 65 Reed Street.

However, Esham’s application generated unanswerable questions, and P&Z Chair Robbie Murray eventually moved to table the discussion pending consultation with Town Attorney Dennis Schrader.

Of particular interest was how Frankford town code defined “dwelling unit.”

Esham’s parcel, roughly an acre in size, is currently zoned residential (R).

R zoning code refers to “buildings,” or “single-family detached dwellings,” that shall rest on lots no smaller than 7,500 square feet.

According to code, Esham could build only one single-family home (or building) on the parcel (plus an accessory use, and maybe a garage, etc.).

If he divided up the land, the minimum size for newly-subdivided lots would be 15,000 square feet. At one acre, that would get Esham two houses, max.

With a change of zone to medium density residential (MR), he could put in “single family attached (as opposed to detached) dwellings” — duplexes, in this case.

The minimum lot size per “dwelling unit” would be the same (7,500 square feet), but since he wouldn’t need to subdivide, Esham could fit as many as five on the parcel.

However, Esham’s proposal showed four duplexes. Should the P&Z members consider each duplex a “single family attached dwelling,” or two dwelling units?

Schrader hadn’t gotten back to the town with a definitive answer as of April 12.

Murray raised other questions, regarding side yard setbacks, and P&Z Member Marla Daisey asked Esham if he would consider some possible deed restrictions.

Esham assured the P&Z that he would be building and selling the duplexes himself, not just getting the change of zone and “flipping” the land.

However, Daisey pushed for a condition, to be included in homeowners’ association documents, that would keep the duplexes “owner occupied.”

Esham expressed reluctance to impose conditions that might affect the value of the property. He pointed out a nearby multifamily neighborhood, where there were no restrictions on rental.

However, as Murray noted, that multifamily was on a cul-de-sac, not a through street, and there’d been no opposition.

There was no opposition to Esham’s project, either, although some of the neighbors brought up the concerns that led to Daisey’s “owner occupied” request.”

Neighbors also asked how far the town intended to go – there’s plenty of undeveloped acreage besides Esham’s in the Reed Street area.

Several residents in attendance said the project could be an improvement – the parcel is currently home to one burned out shell of a house.

However, according to Daisey, “What it boils down to is — if we improve this application, this will then become the townhouse district.”

She agreed with Esham that his project would have next to no impact as far as increased traffic, etc. However, if the P&Z gave him the change of zone, they would be hard pressed to turn down subsequent developers asking for the equal treatment.