Developer preparing to make 24-lot housing application

Engineer James Swift, left, and developer and land owner John Paul during a discussion with the P&Z on possibly filing a Design Residential District application.

A developer of upscale homes is preparing to be the first to use a newly approved residential zoning district when seeking approval for a 24-lot subdivision at Booth Hill and Waverly roads.

Developer John Paul and his engineer, James Swift, recently discussed the concept with the Planning and Zoning Commission. No formal application has been filed yet but could be soon.

“We just wanted to get some feedback,” Paul told P&Z members.

Booth Hill Estates would be built on 22.6 acres at 439-443 Waverly Road, with extensive frontage on Booth Hill Road as well. The site has been a farm with two existing residences. It is zoned for one-acre homes.

Last year, the P&Z approved creating Designed Residential Districts (DRDs) to replace another housing planning district rarely being used for large subdivisions. The DRD allows greater density with smaller lots on large parcels in return for a developer setting aside at least 30% of the land as open space.

The traditional subdivision regulations require only that 10% of the land be kept as open space, meaning more space is to be undeveloped with the DRD approach in return for a few extra housing lots. The DRD also requires that any new road in the subdivision be a private road, holding down future costs for the city.

The plan informally discussed with the P&Z by Paul and Swift calls for 18 smaller lots accessed off a new dead-end street on Booth Hill Road, plus six traditional lots of one acre or more on Waverly Road and one traditional lot on Booth Hill Road. Most of the DRD lots would be about a half-acre in size.

Only the 18 smaller lots would be part of the DRD, and 5.6 acres would be set aside as designated open space in one corner that borders existing Aquarion Water Co. open space land.

Overall, 15.4 acres would be part of the DRD while 7.3 acres would be split into traditional lots. “We’re doing a combination,” Swift explained.

Paul said the longtime farm owners, the Patrick family, had planned to eventually develop 21 one-acre lots on the property.

‘High-quality, high-end’

Paul said he wants to build a “high-quality, high-end” development with houses at least 2,450 square feet that likely would sell from $550,000 to $600,000. Booth Hill Estates would have a “very beautiful entrance” that might even be gated off Booth Hill, he said.

P&Z members raised some concerns for two rear lots planned for the DRD subdivision, with long driveways creating dogleg-shaped parcels.

The land includes some wetlands and an intermittent watercourse, which could impact how much development is allowed.

The property is not far from Booth Hill School, the Isinglass Reservoir and the Trumbull town border. The adjacent Aquarion land has some off-street parking to provide access, and town-owned open space is nearby.

The city considered purchasing the Patrick land to preserve it but the price was considered high, and extensive open space already exists in the neighborhood, Swift told the P&Z.

According to city land records, John Paul Development LCC purchased the Waverly Road property — which technically is two parcels — for $1 million in 2016.

Paul owns a number of companies involved in land development, construction, marketing, and sales, and developed the upscale 12-unit Aspen Ridge townhouses off Commerce Drive and Bridgeport Avenue in 2007. Aspen Ridge is next to the Far Mill River, with units selling in the $700,000 range.

Paul said he’s been working on the Booth Hill Estates plan for more than a year, calling it “a perfect balance” because the city would get a substantial piece of open space while he could create enough lots to make the project economically viable.

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