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Public sounds off on hamlet

Traffic impacts, number of apartments top concerns

Wemple Corners, a large hamlet proposed at the corner of Route 9W and Wemple Road in Glenmont.

Wemple Corners, a large hamlet proposed at the corner of Route 9W and Wemple Road in Glenmont. Submitted photo

— The public has had months to mull over a massive hamlet project proposed for the Glenmont area, and at a recent public scoping session, it was clear there are concerns about how it would affect traffic, and if the idea’s viable in the first place.

The Wednesday, Oct. 12, meeting concerned the upcoming environmental review of the Wemple Corners project. This process was not connected so much to the actual details of the project as the developer’s request that the 95 acres of land at the corner of Wemple Road and Route 9W be rezoned to accommodate it.

The land is zoned mixed economic development right now, and the developer would like to see it become zoned as a commercial hamlet.

The project, as currently proposed, would consist of 470 apartments, 56 twin homes and 145,000 square feet of various commercial space. In the proposal, 150 apartments would be set aside for seniors, which developer Milltowne Plaza contends is the reason for the rezone, since that use isn’t allowed under an MED zoning.

A few members of the public wondered if the units would sell, though. Resident Marcus Mastracco pointed to other developments that are in front of the town or were recently approved, including the Kendall Square hamlet at the corner of Elsmere Avenue and Feura Bush Road.

“Is there really a need for more apartments at this particular time?” he asked.

Donald Zee, attorney for Milltowne Plaza, has contended that there is very little apartment vacancy in Bethlehem, making it ripe for such a project.

“In the Town of Bethlehem, it is my understanding, there is very little acreage set aside for senior housing,” he added.

The developer is suggesting that the intersection of Wemple and 9W be converted into a roundabout, which is an upgrade recommended in a town study of the Route 9W corridor. That improvement would cost around $4 million, Zee said, a cost the developer would assume should the project be approved.

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