Trees make way for 50 units at St. Georges site

If you’re wondering why all those trees were cleared this summer along St. Georges Avenue, across from Stone Street, you’re not alone. Site work will begin next week for a 50-unit, three-story apartment complex. Jim Sisto, president of Westfield-based Sisto Realty, expects the foundation will be poured in the next month and construction completed by the spring.

If I read the zoning maps and application correctly, the building will be located near the center of the 5.13-acre site — perpendicular to St. Georges Avenue — with parking on either side (a total 98 spaces). The project needed variances for lot coverage (9.2 percent of the lot would be covered by the building) and parking. Of the 50 apartments, 37 are two-bedroom units and 13 are one-bedroom units, according to Sisto.

The story goes back several years. The project wasn’t very popular among neighborhood residents, at least according to minutes of the March 2003 Zoning Board meeting (.pdf). At that time, the board rejected a 60-unit application by a 6-1 vote. Sisto appealed to Superior Court, which remanded it back to the Zoning Board, according to city Construction Official Richard Watkins.

The amended application was approved as a 50-unit apartment building in 2004, with extensions granted by the Zoning Board each year through September 2009 as the developer had been waiting for approvals from the state Department of Environmental Protection and state Department of Transportation.

Of the three lots (Block 168, Lots 23, 24 and 25), property data was available for only one (23.02), which indicated an assessed value of $306,100 for 3.3 acres and property taxes of approximately $15,000. The address will be 1319 St. Georges Ave.