After eight months and countless plan changes, developers of Day Break Ridge are another step closer to constructing their townhouse project off River Road.

The Planning & Zoning Commission, at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10, voted 5-1, with commissioner Jimmy Tickey opposed, to grant the special exception and site plan approval for the nine-building, 34-unit development on the 12.39-acre lot at 85-97 River Road.

But the approval comes with several commission stipulations that must be met prior to the beginning of any construction. A final detailed development plan must be approved by the commission before any construction can begin.

"You are going to be approving a special exception,” said zoning consultant Anthony Panico. “Now the applicant has to polish up the plans and answer all questions and concerns that are outstanding. This is not done yet. We are just getting the action out of the way.”

Commissioner Elaine Matto said the proposal is an allowed use for the site, and what is presently there is “deplorable.”

“I don’t like it,” said commissioner Mark Widomski. “I do not like the rock cut. There will be too much blasting, but it is what it is.”

The commission’s concerns throughout the process was the blasting and steep rock slopes that would be too near, in their opinion, to the townhouse units. Over the past few months, the developer - Key Development, LLC - has shifted building locations and reduced the number of units to satisfy commission concerns.

“But the presumption going into the project like this is you do have the right to build it. We need to be careful how we address it,” said Panico at the commission’s October meeting on this project. “This is not an application for a zone change,” added Panico. “This is not an application for a PDD (Planned Development District). This is an application for special exception use in a R3 zone. A special permit or special exception use is presumed to be a permitted use if the reasonable standards of the regulations are met.”

The stipulations which must be met include improving the space between one of the buildings and the rock face by shifting the building to the north as much as possible without encroaching into the 50-foot wetlands regulated setback area;

All disturbed areas of the site not used for buildings, drives and parking must be “appropriately landscaped,” and the final landscape plans must be approved by the commission;

Architectural plans should be modified to include elevations of the rear wall of buildings for each of the different combinations of units and reflecting the topographic grade changes from one end of the building to the other.

The developer must also submit the proposed blasting program, including the proposed pre-blast survey area. No blasting will be allowed between Feb. 15 and April 15.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com