The Glen at Westchester Could be a Sign of Things to Come for Chelsea


Artist rendering of The Glen at Westchester condominiums. Image by Atwell Consulting from the city council packet

At its Jan 9, 2023, meeting, the Chelsea City Council approved the final site plan for The Glen at Westchester condominiums.

The Norfolk Homes project is a 16-acre condominium development at the western edge of the city limits on Cavanaugh Lake Rd, adjacent to the Westchester Farms neighborhood. The site will consist of eight three-story buildings with 12 residential units each for 96 condominiums in all. Neighboring Sylvan Twp, per a franchise agreement, will provide water and sewer utilities.

“This portion of Westchester communities is located within the city limits but is integrally connected to the remaining phases of Westchester Farms located within Sylvan Township,” Community Development Director Adrianna Jordan told the council.

The site for The Glen at Westchester is on Cavanaugh Lake Rd across from Chelsea Retirement Community. Photo by Doug Marrin.

Included in the motion for the final site approval was a landscaping waiver request, recommended by the planning commission, to reduce the trees and shrubs required by city zoning ordinance 7.05.

“Staff acknowledges that the current landscaping standards require more landscaping than is possible for some developments and believe that the overall layout of landscaping on the site meets the intent of each of the landscaping standards for article seven,” said Jordan.

Ms. Jordan alluded to the reason for the waiver request being the height of the building. With shrub and tree requirements partially determined by the number of living units, the third floors units dictate more landscaping than can practically fit on the property.

This could be an indication of the type of housing Chelsea will look to in order to provide more housing.

Eight buildings with 12 condos each. Image by Atwell Consulting from the city council packet

Ms. Jordan said the planning commission was reviewing the landscaping requirements “specifically around items like whether or not the quantity requirements are excessive relative to what can reasonably be put on the site.”

“They are taking action to potentially amend the zoning ordinance to bring it more in line with realistic planting expectations,” she added.

Councilmember Feeney sees higher buildings as a way to create more affordable housing.

“I think the questions on density and the problems it creates for distributing landscaping are kind of the problems we want to have,” he said. “What I mean by that is we’ve been searching for five, six, seven years for more affordable housing. And one way to get that is to simply build less expensively. A way to do that is to go vertical. So, I’m just grateful that we’re wrestling with this, and it’s exactly what we want to be wrestling with.”

“I’m glad that the planning commission studies this carefully. It’s their job,” added Feeney. “We have a new community development director to kind of run this. I think we’re going to learn a little bit about this process. We may not get this thing perfect here. But I think if we give her and them the flexibility to do their jobs, I think we’ll all be the better for it.”

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