A 14-unit complex with marina proposed for Shelton riverfront

A developer is proposing a 14-unit condominium development with a marina office and six boat slips on the Housatonic River at 500 River Road and 41 Fanny St.

Access would be provided by driveways from both River Road (Route 110) and the end of Fanny Street, which currently is a cul-de-sac that is reached from Jordan Avenue.

The property also abuts Anna Street, another dead-end road off Jordan Avenue.

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 (PDD).

A total of six structures

There would be six buildings with two to three residential units each, including an existing house at the end of Fanny Street that would become a duplex and also house the marina office. The existing home is owned by Salvatore A. Matto.

An industrial building now on the site would be torn down.

The Inland Wetlands Commission already has approved the project, and it will next be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) at a public hearing on May 28.

Same company pursued nearby project

The developer is Water’s Edge of Shelton LLC, a Torrington-based entity that appears to involve the same people who received approval for a 36-townhouse project on River Road that now is being built by Toll Brothers as Shelton Cove.

With that site, the entity sold the land to Tolls Brothers in a profitable deal after zoning approval — including a zone change — was received.

This property previously had been owned by Mayor Mark Lauretti, who also turned a nice profit when he had sold it to Blue Heron Cove LLC of Torrington.

Developer: It's a mixed-use corridor

In its application, the developer says the land at 500 River Road and 41 Fanny St. is at the northern end of a mixed-use River Road corridor that the P&Z has viewed as “a transitional development area.”

The application states that a higher residential use is acceptable “with proper design and site controls in appropriate locations” when the project design is “sensitive to the surrounding property owners and the natural environment.”

The developers said higher-density housing has been allowed in this corridor, with its proximity to the “major employment areas of Constitution Boulevard.”

The developer is proposing “conservation restrictions” to protect almost 20% of the site, and the plan “provides a public access easement to the Housatonic River.”

The application also states that the project’s conservation protections and landscape elements would enhance wildlife as part of the Housatonic River Wildlife Greenway Corridor.

Density concerns are expressed

At a meeting of the city Conservation Commission last week, members looked at the Water’s Edge plan for the first time.

The Conservation Commission is an advisory board and has no regulatory authority, but it can raise objections and suggestions with land-use boards.

Members plan to make a site visit to the property before making formal recommendations to the P&Z.

The members expressed concerns about the development’s density, at about four residences per acre. “It seems like a very dense development,” said member Jim Tate.

Waterfront public access questions

Tate said he wanted to see more details on the waterfront public access, and is worried all the renewed interest in riverfront development may lead to the loss of public recreational opportunities along the river.

Members agreed that what was needed was “a balance” between some development and measures to protect — and increase public access to — the waterfront.

It appears that half the boat slips would be for residents of the development and the other half for public use, but there was uncertainty over exactly what “public use” meant.

Restrictions vs. easements

Members also discussed whether the “conservation restrictions” proposed by the developer would be restrictive enough, or if perhaps more substantive and enforceable “conservation easements” would be better.

They are upset that only “conservation restrictions” — and not “easements” — were used with the nearby Shelton Cove project, which they think has led to problems.

“We learned,” said member Bill Dyer.

Tom Harbinson, commission chairman, said the commission can suggest “stronger” language for protective measures, and also point out cases where things went wrong because of how land-use board approvals were worded in the past.