Hawks Ridge approval will allow mixed use for 41-acre parcel

The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has formally approved creating a Planned Development District (PDD) for the Hawks Ridge development on 41 acres between Long Hill Cross Road and Beard Sawmill Road, close to Bridgeport Avenue.

The development on Wells family land will include 54 houses, 57 townhouse units and a 196-unit assisted living facility. The residences have been promoted as being part of an “adult-oriented luxury” community.

The developers still will need to get zoning approval for the specifics of the project, but the PDD opens the door for that to happen.

In early April, the P&Z had indicated it would support the PDD during an informal consensus vote. The final vote last week was 5-1, with Chairman Ruth Parkins opposed.

The PDD will change the property’s current zoning from light industrial and other designations to multi-family/group quarters.

Final site plans within one year

The developers should submit more specific plans by Sept. 1, and they may be submitted separately for the three aspects of the development. An overall final site plan is to be received within one year, and no site work may begin until this is approved.

Some of the issues to be addressed in the final site plan are building locations, new road design, drainage, and enhancements to existing roads due to increased traffic.

Site preparation is expected to require blasting and rock removal, as there is about a 150-foot elevation change from one side of the property to the other.

Required setbacks

Buildings should be 40 feet from any property line (but may be closer on the Route 8 right-of-way side), and 50 feet from the underground natural gas line easement. The assisted living facility must be 200 feet from the gas line easement.

The PDD calls for creating a buffer of 35 feet on Long Hill Cross Road, which may require planting more trees in some locations.

Tony Panico, city planning consultant, said the Long Hill Cross buffer will be helpful in the future if the city should want to expand that road.

According to the PDD, the residential entrance off Long Hill Cross should be a divided, boulevard-type road in the lower portion (closer to Bridgeport Avenue). A secondary emergency entrance can be put in the upper portion of Long Hill Cross Road.

Private roads

The PDD makes roads in the development private so they are maintained by a homeowners’ association, and prevents creating “a through road” to connect Long Hill Cross and Beard Sawmill roads. The assisted living facility will be accessible from Beard Sawmill only.

The approval states that having a one-building assisted living facility would be desirable, and the homeowners’ association should prohibit outdoor playground equipment and pools in house yards.

It calls for preserving stone walls and other natural buffers where possible, and for addressing traffic issues where Long Hill Cross Road intersects with Bridgeport Avenue.

One large wetlands area is in the middle of the property, which would mostly be protected. The developer should submit an “overall conservation and open space plan” to clearly designate these areas.

Approval reasons

The PDD approval points out that changing real estate market conditions make it unlikely the land will be used for offices or light industrial facilities, and the property’s topography means major excavation and regrading would be needed to build offices or light industrial facilities.

The approval stresses the decision shouldn’t be seen as an indication that all undeveloped light industrial land should be rezoned, because every parcel is unique.

The development should generate $750,000 in annual taxes to the city after the cost of new services are factored in, according to the PDD approval.