New housing development in Troy sparks discussion on vinyl siding

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published August 21, 2019


TROY — Vinyl siding used in the construction of new high-end homes raised questions among members of the Troy Planning Commission.

The discussion ensued at the Aug. 13 meeting after the Planning Commission unanimously approved developer Gary Abithiera’s request for a new 27-home development. It features a new public road off Rochester Road and sidewalk along Rochester Road on just over 8 acres of wooded, vacant land on the west side of Rochester Road, near Maple Road and Stephenson Highway.

Ben Carlisle, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, told the Planning Commission that Abithiera plans to cut down the 192 trees on the site, of which most are invasive cottonwoods, silver maples and American elms, and would mitigate that with 121.5 inches of new tree plantings.

Abithiera told the Planning Commission that he originally planned to construct 42 condo units on the site but decided that houses would look better. He said he plans to offer five different home elevations, starting with 2,000-square-foot ranches up to 3,250-square-foot colonials.

When asked if he considered building smaller homes on the site, Abithiera said, “Everybody wants that four-bedroom house,” which are the homes in the 2,800- to 3,250-square-foot range. “You have to give them what they want. Everyone wants to be in the Troy School District.”

Abithiera said that he or his representative spoke with 99% of the residents whose homes are adjacent, and most said they were happy that single-family homes, rather than attached condos, would be constructed on the site. He added that one resident was not in favor of any development on the site.

He said the home prices would be just under $500,000.

Planning Commissioner John Tagle expressed his disappointment that vinyl siding would be used as part of the design.

“Quality developments don’t use vinyl siding,” Tagle said.

Abithiera said that an all-brick option would be available for an additional $10,000.

“This project is an upgrade for that area,” said Carlton Faison, the Planning Commission chair. “At that price point, buyers would be making that decision,” he said, referring to the additional cost of the all-brick option.

Planning Commissioner David Lambert said the development would be a nice improvement to the area, a gateway to the city.

Community Development Director R. Brent Savidant said that the surrounding homes are vinyl-sided on three sides of the homes. He noted that the Planning Commission recently strengthened design standards with regard to the use of exterior insulation and finish system, known as EIFS, described as synthetic stucco primarily used on commercial buildings, only as an accent.

One resident, Avis Landmesser, who does not live in the neighborhood and has opposed other developments in the city, spoke at the meeting.

“This is a nice development,” she said.

Tagle said that he didn’t want to specify that developers have to use specific materials and would rather “say what we don’t want.”

Carlisle said that he could not think of another community that puts limits on building material for single-family homes.

Savidant said that the city staff would investigate from legal and other standpoints if a provision on the use of vinyl siding is viable, which would then go before the City Council for consideration.