Public weighs in on Zena housing plan

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Woodstock residents turned out in force for the March 7 meeting of the Planning Board, airing their views, pro and con, at a public hearing on a senior housing project that a local developer proposes to build in Zena.

A dozen of the approximately 40 people in attendance at the Community Center addressed the board on the merits of the project, which would create 18 apartment units in a clustered, three-building complex on a wooded 40-acre parcel near the intersection of John Joy Road and Purdy Hollow Road in Zena. Each building would contain 6,500 square feet.

The Planning Board is considering applications by the developer, Zena resident Rod Karolys, for a site plan review and a special use permit for the project, which would offer unsubsidized rental housing at market rates to citizens aged 55 and older. Karolys noted in a recent interview that the proposed development would be neither a nursing home nor an assisted living facility and thus would not include on-site medical services.


Over the course of the half-hour public hearing, opponents cast the project as a threat to the tranquillity and rural character of the neighborhood, expressing concern over the prospect of increased traffic, intrusive lighting, and faulty drainage. Other residents, however, endorsed the proposal, with one deeming it a welcome opportunity for the town to address a need for senior housing and another vouching for Karolys’s personal character and competence as a builder.

In order to allow time for additional input from townspeople, the Planning Board’s chairman, Tom Unrath, recessed the public hearing until April 18, when it will be reopened. Unrath credited the evening’s speakers with raising salient points and suggested that concerned neighbors seek opinions from independent experts, such as a traffic engineer, lighting specialist, and hydrologist.


Origins of plan

The parcel for the proposed development lies in an R3 (“moderate-density residential”) zoning district. A portion of the parcel contains a wetland. Karolys, who owns the land, originally approached the Planning Board more than two years ago with a proposal to subdivide the parcel into multiple building lots of three acres each, the minimum size allowed by the zoning law.