Conservation Chair comments on Shelter Ridge application

The land for this proposal is currently zoned LIP (Light Industrial Park). It is alleged that such an industrial development is unlikely to occur in the future in Shelton (despite current applications to expand light industrial manufacturing facilities at Anco Engineering on Long Hill Crossroads, a street which is adjacent to this parcel), and thus this PDD is the only alternative in the current market.

As stated in the article, a PDD (Planned Development District) proposal can have a number of positives, but it is a “request” by an applicant to change from the City’s plans, to veer from the guidance of zoning maps, documents and studies prepared over the years, and seek a direction that causes ramifications beyond traffic and other infrastructure issues.

One of those ramifications for this application is the impact upon the “Shelton Lakes Greenway”, which is outlined in the City’s Open Space Plan, the Shelton Plan of Conservation & Development, and the result of decades of work by the Board of Aldermen, Planning & Zoning Commission, Conservation Commission, Mayor, Quality of Life Committee, and others. It is well known by all parties that there is great value and appreciation placed upon this Greenway corridor by the community. To disregard that public interest requires something of phenomenal value to counter such a historical direction of actions chosen by many city officials for so many years. We on the Conservation Commission do not see such a value in this request/application, as currently presented, outweighing either our concern for the land to be dedicated as Open Space within the project, nor the impacts on land already dedicated as Open Space outside of the project.

The Conservation Commission is thankful to the applicant for providing us early opportunity to begin our review process. We promptly stated very early in the process our opinion. The Conservation Commission physically visited the site and submitted a very thorough report that was commended by the applicant’s attorney. Many months later, those comments have not been incorporated into revisions of the project, for which we expressed our disappointment in the letter most recently read into the record.

Nobody is suggesting that the City should seize property by eminent domain proceedings, other than the applicant’s attorney. Every PDD zone is unique unto itself, and thus the characteristics of what is allowed from use by occupants, types of signage, and many other details can be controlled perpetually by the City – this is part of the give and take of this peculiar zoning mechanism for Shelton. If the Planning & Zoning Commission follows it’s many guiding documents, specifically for this application as it relates to footprint of developed areas, setbacks from residential zones and preserved City Open Spaces (among other things) – then the developer will have a more successful project. Past experience of other application’s revision 1, vs a final approval bear that out.

If the ridge lines along Bridgeport Avenue are to be lined with high-rise residential towers that can be seen from many corners of town, and impinge upon the quality of life we enjoy with scenic roads such as Mill Street, then the Planning & Zoning Commissioners should state that this is their desire and direct that planning documents reflect that new choice.

As a reminder, the Conservation Commission is appointed, advisory only, and is charged with acting as the environmental conscience of the community. We will continue to voice our consistent opinion on such matters.

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