Neighbors turned out in force to raise concerns about a proposed 14-unit condominium and six-slip marina planned for 500 River Road and 41 Fanny St., along the Housatonic River.
Nearby residents mostly objected to providing access to the site from Fanny Street, a dead-end, and to allowing the public to use three of the marina’s six slips.
They worried about increased traffic and parking by non-residents on Fanny Street, Anna Street, Victory Street and Jordan Avenue, calling it a quiet neighborhood of modest homes where children now can play safely in the streets.
“I feel it will diminish our home values and our quality of life,” Barbara Parrelli said.
“It’s a nice neighborhood — and I’d like to keep it that way,” Frank Baranowsky said.
Drops regular Fanny Street access
During a presentation before the public spoke, the developer — Torrington-based Water’s Edge of Shelton LLC — indicated it no longer wanted a regular entrance from Fanny Street to the 3.1-acre site.
Peter Hughes, a land-use planner representing the applicant, said the other driveway from River Road would instead be widened as necessary and become two way, and access from Fanny Street would become an emergency entrance only with a locked gate. Emergency vehicles would have a key to open the gate.
The adjustment appeared to ease the fears of some but not all of the neighbors.
“There is a concern for opening up Fanny Street to traffic,” acknowledged Hughes, saying the developer wants to address those objections.
Public slips are a concern
The three public slips — most likely to be leased by the season with limited hours and other restrictions — are required by the state to build the six slips that were previously approved, according to Hughes.
“The dock is partially built today,” he said.
The slips were approved when Sacred Heart University considered using the land to base its crew team. The slip sizes are smaller than usual for that reason, and wouldn’t accommodate certain boats.
The other three slips would be for residents of the new complex. No boat fueling or maintenance facilities would be allowed at the site.
The state requires a public marina have an office and bathroom, so the Water’s Edge proposal includes these facilities although they wouldn’t be staffed.
“Why not just get rid of this marina?” asked Joseph Kralic, in a comment echoed by some other speakers who said they didn’t necessarily object to putting condos at the site.
Many longtime residents in the area
Almost 20 neighbors spoke against the proposal at the May 28 P&Z meeting. Some speakers have lived in the neighborhood for 30 to 50 years.
The developer wants to change the zoning on the 3.1-acre site from industrial and residential (two parcels are being combined) to multi-family residential through a Planned Development District.
The public hearing on the Water’s Edge proposal remains open and should continue at the June 10 meeting.
In a letter, the city engineer raised questions on the steepness of the River Road driveway, the need to widen this driveway to be at least 22 feet, and how a major flood would impact any access from Fanny Street.
Hughes said the driveway’s width could be increased from the existing 18 feet to 20 feet, and “possibly” to 22 feet. The current grade is as steep as 15% in sections.
The driveway comes out on River Road across the street from Petremont Lane. There would be a gated entrance.
The River Road property has a small commercial building — a former factory now used as a gym — and parking lot on it. There is an existing house at 41 Fanny St. that would be turned into two condo residences as well as the marina office and bathrooms.
At one point, Fanny Street had been used to access the 500 River Road site, but that was abandoned about a decade ago when the house was built at 41 Fanny St.
Up to $750,000 per unit
Hughes said the condos could sell for $575,000 to $750,000 each. He said the overall complex would generate about $100,000 in annual tax revenue compared to the current $7,000, and has “low school-age potential.”
Five new three- and two-story buildings would be built to create 12 units, with the two other units being in the existing house at the end of Fanny Street.
The three-bedroom residences would be about 2,500 square feet, without finished basements. Some structures would be close to the river while the rest would be set back a bit.
Units would have decks, two inside parking spaces and two outside spaces. The complex would have an additional 19 parking spaces.
Sewers, water, conservation issues
The site has access to public sewers and water, and a natural gas line extension could be built from Route 110, depending on the cost.
Conservation easements would be created in three locations on the property, including about a 10-foot-wide area along the river. Hughes said many existing natural buffers would be preserved, and additional landscaping added.
The development’s storm water management plan would mean “zero-percent post-development runoff,” he said.
Under the proposal, the Fanny Street cul-de-sac would be widened to create more public parking, based on the state wanting increased public access to the waterfront. Neighbors didn’t like that idea.
Thomas Klepacky, saying he opposes any commercial aspect to the marina, said more public access could create a situation “like a block party every night.”
Vincent Ferrante said increased access would lead to night use by fishermen. “We don’t need extra cars at the end of the street at midnight,” he said.
Joy Jarvais said she fears the marina might grow in size over time, ruining the “peace and quiet” of the area.
They pointed out that numerous public marinas exist on the river near the site, including the city-owned Sunnyside boat launch.
Neighbors also questioned the marketability of high-end homes due to odor issues with the nearby Latex Foam factory.
Some neighbors’ comments focused on the Housatonic River, with questions about erosion, docks and boat noise.
“This is a precious resource,” said Ann DeFilippo. “It seems what is happening is one condo project after another is being built.”
People asked why a new development could have a marina when other waterfront property owners can’t add docks or are even being forced to take down existing docks.
“It just isn’t fair to the average person,” Dawn Shuby said.
Judson Crawford said the increased traffic would be “unbearable,” and that children’s safety should take precedence over private development.
The applicant’s traffic engineer said the development would generate 208 vehicle trips a day, with little impact on nearby roads.