The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 to approve and adopt the planned development district that will permit a 28-unit apartment building at 309 Old Bridgeport Avenue.
Commissioner Charlie Kelly abstained from voting on the application because he wasn’t present for the entire time during the commission’s deliberation.
According to the adopted resolution report dated Dec. 9 and read at the Dec.13 P&Z meeting, the Brookview Apartments will have 28 units with 56 parking spots. The development is contingent on approval of the final detailed development plan and other criteria that must be met by the developer, Jim Blakeman Development Co.
The resolution was moved by Commissioner Virginia Harger and seconded by Elaine Matto. Harger and Matto, along with Commissioner Anthony Pagoda and Chairman Ruth Parker, voted to approve the district change and Brookview Apartments. Commissioner Jimmy Tickey voted against the resolution.
The applicant’s initial proposal called for 37 units, but P&Z formed a consensus to reduce the number to 24. However, the commission increased the number from 24 to 28 units when the applicant presented a revised plan which was ultimately approved by the commission at its Dec. 13 meeting. The other uses were presented by land use consultant Anthony Panico.
Tickey commented in a discussion at the meeting why he voted no.
“I don’t think we should be choosing a unit number that makes it ‘economically viable’ for the developer, but should be doing what’s best for the city,” Tickey said.
The commission voted after reviewing the initial site development plan. However, previously the P&Z had debated at a November meeting whether to increase the number of one-bedroom units in the building from 24 to 28.
The commission voted in November on 28 units because it felt that decreasing the number of units to 24 could push the developer to use the site for a less desirable business than an apartment building. Panico had called the reduction of the original application’s number of units from 37 to 24 “draconian.” The possibility of other uses for the site had influenced P&Z to approve the resolution.
Page 7 of the resolution, item 4, reads as follows:
“The existing zoning allows as of right, subject only to site plan approval of non-residential uses that may result in greater impact on the adjacent residential condominiums than the proposed development. Proposed site development and residential apartment building design will be subject to careful review and control under the provisions of the Planned Development District.”
After the resolution was read on Dec. 13, Tickey said that although traffic, blasting, and other concerns influenced his vote, it was mostly that the project is not a good fit for the area. He said he appreciated the reduction of units from 37 to 28 but still does not feel it is a good choice for the site. Instead, Tickey said he would prefer to see downtown further developed with applications such as Brookview Apartments.
“Downtown would be prime for an application such as this, it has already had success with residential developments like this one in the past,” said Tickey.
The adopted resolution report stated that the commission had reviewed the initial site development plan, and along with 28 units maximum, called for a setback of 35 feet from the Knollbrook Drive property to improve vegetation buffering, moving the Dumpster, and reducing the height of the building. The developer would also have to submit a blasting program as part of the final development plan.
The resolution states that the stormwater management plan satisfies city ordinance and addresses stormwater drainage issues and proposes to discharge into underground galleys prior to connecting to the existing detention basin and then to Burying Ground Brook.
The resolution stated that favorable reports have been received from the fire marshal and city engineer. However, final approval would be needed from the Inland Wetland Committee and the Water Pollution Control Authority.
In August, Tom Harbinson, Shelton Conservation Commission chairman, reviewed the Brookview proposal and on Aug. 10, 2016, sent a letter to the P&Z stating that although he did not wish to comment on a PDD at the location, he strongly objected to the proposal to create lawn areas within the area’s setback.
“The grass will be fertilized and runoff then degrade downstream areas,” Harbinson said. The letter was copied to City Engineer Robert Kulacz and John Cook of the Inland Wetlands Committee.The letter from the Shelton Conservation Commission can be opened and viewed by using the link http://www.sheltonconservation.org/Developments%20and%20Proposals.html.
Tickey also said at the Dec. 13 meeting that residents’ objections helped solidify his objection to the development. One of the objections noted in the P&Z file was from members of the Knollbrook Condominium Association regarding the private access driveway located at the condominiums, which will also be used by Brookview Apartments, adjacent to the proposed development.
On Oct. 11, 2016, Franklin G. Pilicy, attorney for the Knollbrook Condominium Association, sent a letter to Planning and Zoning stating that the association does not consent to the developer using the access driveway for the proposed development. The association disputed the developer’s right to use the driveway and is prepared to take legal action to prevent it from using it.