Although the item wasn’t on the city council’s agenda, city council member Kristina Harrison had questions for city planner Amy Kennard.
Harrison asked the city planner to explain what occurred during a Gardner Planning Commission meeting March 22 when commissioners sent the owners of 318 Center, LLC, Mike and Joyce O’Connor, back to the drawing board on a project proposal.
“I’ve heard concerns that the feedback that was given was personal preference, and not a lot of tangible items,” Harrison said.
Amy Kennard told council members on April 4 that planning commissioners’ main issue with the O’Connor’s proposed condominium project were related to architectural requirements.
“Which by nature, are somewhat subjective,” Kennard explained.
The O’Connors hope to tear down a dwelling at 318 S. Center Street and construct a maintenance-provided senior condo complex. Kennard told council members that the project wasn’t declined. They were instead offered suggestions to help the project meet the city of Gardner’s design standards.
“I just think there was a perception that it was a personal preference,” Harrison told the city planner.
Kennard said commissioners did not offer specifics, in part, because they want to be flexible.
“They’re not architects,” she said. “It’s not their job to design the project.”
Commissioners try to strike a balance.
“It’s funny. Sometimes we’ll have the opposite. People will complain that we’re trying to design the project for them,” Kennard said.
Harrison asked if Kennard believes the O’Connors have enough information to make changes to the project.
Kennard told council members that the property owners have architectural designers who will understand the planning commissioners’ direction.
“I did offer to sit down with the O’Connors,” Kennard said. “They haven’t taken me up on that offer.”