Overflow Crowd for Trailside Hearing

Abutters and other residents came out in force on Thursday to register their opposition to a variance request by Coastal Realty and Development LLC for its Trailside Estates project.

The developers were originally approved for the age-restricted condominiums on Snipatuit Road in 2006, but later received two cease and desist orders from the Rochester Planning Board for environmental concerns, which delayed and “effectively killed” it, according to the LLC’s attorney, Michael Kelley. The developers owe tens of thousands of dollars of back taxes on the land.

In order to get the project “back on track” in a roller coaster housing market, Kelley asked that the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals allow Coastal to remove the age restriction – 55 and older – for the condos, allowing other buyers to purchase units. Trailside’s plans call for 60 luxury units on 38.4 acres, and such infrastructure as drainage, gas, cable, septic, and other utilities have already been installed. Principals said that they have spent $1.3 million already, and that financing would be difficult – if not impossible – to secure for housing available only to those 55 and older.

But a skeptical ZBA expressed concerns about the potential toll on Rochester’s school system, while frustrated abutters lamented the noise, run-off, and other problems they say they have experienced since construction began more than five years ago.

“I live right next door, and I was very much affected,” Bruce Duffy said. “If this moves forward, and they get stuck again, where does that leave us?”

Susan Owen agreed.

“Every time there’s bad weather, we’re underwater. It never used to be that way,” Owen said. “It’s not fixed. We’re just living with it.”

Owen and other neighbors said that they did not believe Coastal had operated in good faith, with several demanding that the developers pay their back taxes.

“I had a thought in the back of my head from the beginning that the over 55 thing was a farce just to get the thing approval from the town,” Owen said. “And now we’re looking at more kids in our schools, more traffic, and more flooding.”

After nearly an hour and a half of testimony, the ZBA voted to continue the hearing to Aug. 1 at 7:30 pm. In the meantime, members said, the developers would have to consult the Treasurer and town bylaws before any cooperation from officials would be a possibility.

By Shawn Badgley

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