Anglace backs Hawks Ridge plan, says has ‘neighborhood consensus’ behind it

One of those speaking in favor of a zone change to allow for the 41-acre Hawks Ridge development is Board of Aldermen President John F. Anglace Jr.

There seems to be “a neighborhood consensus” in favor of the project as now proposed, Anglace told the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) at a Feb. 26 public hearing.

Anglace said the developer had worked with nearby residents to allow “citizen involvement” in the revised plan, which has fewer housing units than a previous plan proposed for the same property. He said neighbors were shown plans as they were updated to allow for their input.

“That’s something that is unheard of,” he said, noting residents often clash with developers pursuing projects in their neighborhood.

Anglace lives in the Long Hill Avenue neighborhood, within a mile or two of the development site.

‘Well thought out’

Anglace described the plan to build 54 single-family homes, a 57-unit condominium/townhouse complex, and a 196-unit assisted living facility on Wells family property as being “well thought out.”

Like the developer’s representatives, he stressed the project would create jobs and serve a need for adult-oriented housing that is “in demand.” He also said the market for light industrial space — that’s what the land currently is zoned for — is “much slower than expected.”

The site is bordered by Long Hill Cross Road to the north, Route 8 to the east, and Beard Sawmill Road to the south, and is close to Bridgeport Avenue to the west. The developer is seeking conceptual approval to create a Planned Development District for the parcel.

Buffer, future commercial development

Anglace did say the proposed 50-foot buffer along Long Hill Cross Road needs to have landscaping that provides a year-round buffer, and that people buying homes in Hawks Ridge should be told nearby parcels are still zoned light industrial and may be used for commercial purposes in the future.

He disputed claims that the development would hurt the redevelopment of downtown. He also spoke in favor of having a “through” road in the complex, connecting Long Hill Cross and Beard Sawmill roads.

Zones ‘not cast in concrete’

Anglace said changing a zone “should be a very thoughtful process” because of the time and effort that goes into creating the master plan, but said zoning designations “are not cast in concrete” and circumstances change during the 10 years between master plan updates.

He asked, “Should we hold our landowners hostage to a [master] plan” that may no longer promote the most desired kind of development for a specific property?