GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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May 13, 2010

Neighbor delays Magnolia condos

She says at least 2 units would impinge her privacy

Three years after Windover Properties bought the former Shore Cliff retirement home in Magnolia, the company's plans to build condominiums on the lot have gone nowhere, bogged down first by the economy and now in court.

The legal challenge comes from Barbara Fletcher, the Boulder Avenue neighbor who with another abutter in 2003 launched an appeal that scuttled plans to turn Shore Cliff into Cape Ann's first assisted living center.

This time, on her own, Fletcher is appealing two variances granted to Windover's latest condo design on the grounds that the project would compromise her privacy and block her ocean views.

After a year's delay due to the plunging real estate market, the appeal has put the brakes on the Shore Cliff project when it appeared construction may be finally ready to begin.

"We are kind of in a holding pattern," said Windover principal Lee Delliker. "We got approval for the six-unit (project) and a neighbor has filed an appeal."

When the assisted living plan died, Manchester-based Windover picked up the 2.8-acre Shore Cliff parcel for $1.8 million and proposed a three-story, 12-condominium building in the footprint of the old structure.

Initially, the condominium plan was viewed by neighbors as an improvement over the assisted living center, which would have expanded the facility from 28 units to 48 apartments.

A special permit for the original condominium design was granted by City Council in early 2008.

But by the time Windover was granted approval, the real estate market was in collapse and the company put the 12-unit luxury complex on hold for fear of soft demand.

Last year, the company came back with a new plan, replacing the three-story building with three separate duplexes. That plan was approved by the city Zoning Board of Appeals in December.

Although the new plan contains half the total units of the original, the new footprint of the project brings it closer to Fletcher's house, a move she has not been happy with.

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