The proposed Crossroads adult living community was rejected by the Planning & Zoning Commission in a tie vote April 24.
Members who opposed the 30-unit plan said the site should be used for industrial purposes, as it is zoned, and the housing development was too dense for the oddly-shaped 5-5-acre parcel and too close to the Route 8 highway.
Applications must receive a majority to be approved, and the proposal had earlier received a favorable consensus vote, indicating approval was likely. However, one voting member was different when the final vote was taken.
S&G of Shelton, LLC, wanted to construct 15 duplex buildings plus a small community structure at 96 Long Hill Cross Road, just south of Route 8. The applicant wanted to change the zone by creating a Planned Development District.
The two-bedroom residences, to be restricted to people age 55 and older, would be located on both sides of a long dead-end driveway. There would be from 77 to 89 parking spaces, more than required.
The vote came in the aftermath of a letter sent to the P&Z by Mayor Mark Lauretti, who suggested the commission require some of the Crossroads units be designated as affordable under state statute 8-30g. “The time to incorporate affordable housing is now,” Lauretti wrote.
Members felt it was too late in the process to require any units be made affordable. Member Mark Widomski said he was confused by Lauretti’s letter since the mayor had recently sharply criticized the P&Z for using industrial-zoned land for residential purposes.
Member Jimmy Tickey said affordable projects need to “be well-thought out” due to state criteria, with “safeguards” to protect the city, and “not added moments before” an application is voted on.
Prior to the vote, city land-use consultant Anthony Panico said additional parking could be created near units by requiring all homes have two-car garages. Members had expressed concerns that not all units had two parking spaces adjacent to the unit.
In response to other questions by the commission, Panico said the closest units would be 125 feet from the actual highway, and only about an acre of land could be used for large-scale industrial purposes due to access, wetlands and topography reasons.
Widomski repeated his criticism that the project was being “shoe-horned” into an area between industrial buildings and the Route 8 highway, and something like small industrial condos could work on the property.
Member Charles Kelly said despite a need for senior housing in Shelton, “the best use” would be industrial.
Those favoring the project said industrial uses were impractical, the applicant had taken steps to address on-site parking concerns, and certain outstanding issues could be addressed later in the process.
After the vote, Tickey noted that denying an application after a favorable consensus was very unusual. He urged members to be more up front with concerns earlier in the process as a way to be fairer to applicants, the commission and the public.