The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a new 10,000-square-foot industrial building in the Scinto Corporate Park to house a railroad track inspection company.
The building will be constructed in the parking lot of 5 Research Drive, which is close to Commerce Drive and Huntington Street. Developer Robert A. Scinto said the 800-space parking lot now is underutilized.
The company also will occupy 31,000 square feet in a large existing building left vacant when Altice — formerly Cablevision — moved its call center out of state. Additional tenants are filling other parts of the large building.
The approval on May 8 came after P&Z members questioned the black brick facade and modern design of the proposed building, and the request for a new driveway to be built on busy Commerce Drive. City Engineer Robert Kulacz opposed the new driveway.
In response to concerns, the developer said he was willing to alter the building’s color and exterior to gain approval. “We’re open to what you want to do,” he said while noting that R.D. Scinto Inc. has been constructing many modern, high-end buildings on its properties. Scinto’s architect said the brick would appear lighter in the sunlight.
Developer engineer James Swift agreed the driveway could be made a right-turn, exit-only for exclusive use by small trucks using the new building, and kept closed by a gate or chain at other times. Additional trees and shrubs would be added to better screen the new building’s two loading docks from Commerce Drive.
Scinto said the new tenant — he declined to name the company — was now located elsewhere in Connecticut and had considered moving its operations to South Carolina.
He asked the P&Z to act quickly on the request due to “a short timetable,” hoping to begin construction as soon as possible to meet the needs of his prospective tenant. The lease would be for 15 years.
Beacon Point uncertainty
The P&Z took no action on an application to build a large apartment complex, clubhouse, restaurant, and marina at the Beacon Point Marine site at 704-722 River Road.
At its last meeting, the P&Z voted against a motion to extend the application’s public hearing and also voted to close the hearing, which means no new information can be offered before the commission discusses and decides the matter.
But it’s now uncertain whether one of those votes was proper because an alternate voted who hadn’t been present during all earlier proceedings on the application.
Corporation Counsel Fran Teodosio was at the May 8 meeting to offer advice on what should happen next. Teodosio said the commission could find the earlier vote was invalid and reopen the hearing, the applicant could voluntarily withdraw the application and resubmit it with waived fees, or the P&Z could now deliberate and vote.
After a lengthy discussion, the P&Z decided to wait until the next meeting to decide how to handle the situation so Teodosio could further research the issue.
Beacon Point developer attorney Dominick Thomas, who couldn’t be at the last meeting when the questionable vote was taken, said he was “shocked” when he found out the extension request had been denied and the hearing closed. He said the developer was now willing to extend the hearing through mid-June.
Teodosio said he’s unsure a hearing can be reopened after the P&Z has voted to close it, no matter how the scenario occurred.
Member Mark Widomski questioned why Teodosio was invited to the meeting without most P&Z members being informed. Chairman Virginia Harger said she asked Teodosio to be there to offer guidance on whether proper procedure had been followed.
The applicant wants to build three six-story apartment buildings with a total of 98 units, 385 parking spaces and 100 marina slips. The Great River Water Club development would be built on 8.6 acres along the Housatonic River, across from Murphys Lane.
An earlier proposal for more apartments but less public access was rejected by the P&Z in 2016, but another plan was approved in 2007 and never built.