The final approval of a large Burlingame housing development stalled because officials would not allow a builder to see through a plan to use vinyl windows.
The Burlingame Planning Commission unanimously voted during a meeting Monday, Nov. 26, to withhold their previous OK of a proposal to build 128 units along Bayswater Avenue and Myrtle Road.
The desire by Fore Property Company to construct the units using vinyl windows lies at the heart of concerns shared by commissioners, who felt the materials were not suitable for such a notable development.
Commissioner Will Loftis clearly stated his reservations with the proposal to use vinyl windows.
“The problem for me is this is a huge project with a lot of windows in a prominent location and these windows look cheap to me. That’s really the issue, when it comes down to it. So I sort of have a problem with that,” he said, according to video of the meeting.
Commissioner Audrey Tse shared a similar perspective regarding the development’s design.
“I just want this whole project to look as quality built as it can be,” she said, while suggesting as a compromise that the builder use a different, higher-grade material on the project facing surrounding neighborhoods with the less expensive, vinyl version used in interior units.
In light of their reservations, officials requested the issue return at a later meeting when they can discuss alternative materials and manufacturers, as well as sound proofing qualities of vinyl windows.
The discussion at the meeting continued from the Planning Commission’s August approval of the project at 920 Bayswater Ave., site of Hower Auto Repair, and several other parcels north on Myrtle Road, which was granted with contingencies that the developer return with more information about certain design details.
At the most recent meeting, officials expressed their support for all proposed amendments to the lingering issues, except the windows.
In defense of the proposed materials, applicant Mark Pilarczyk said the windows were the highest quality vinyl product offered by a reputable manufacturer, and that they offered noise protections commensurate with standards set by state environmental quality law. He also noted they are the same windows proposed to be used in a SummerHill project on Carolan Avenue where 288 units are being built.
Officials though suggested the sound protection standards for the two projects may differ due to the different parts of the city where they are proposed. As a result, commissioners requested more information from city staffers about the state noise minimizing requirements for each development.
Commissioners did not explicitly reject the use of vinyl windows in the Bayswater project, noting the obligation to assure all projects are being treated fairly despite their aesthetic concerns.
“Consistency is a really important value that we need to adhere to,” said Commissioner Richard Sargent.
Loftis expressed a similar opinion.
“Our job is to be fair and apply things in a fair way,” he said.
Officials also shared concerns around the potential for setting precedent in allowing developers to use vinyl windows, noting there are other sizable projects in the construction pipeline whose developers may wish to build with similar materials.
Acknowledging the variety of unresolved issues, officials agreed the matter should return for further deliberation at an upcoming meeting before building begins. But while referring to the central issue, commissioner Sandy Comaroto encouraged the developer to consider alternatives.
“I would suggest we look at a different type of window,” she said
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