Huntington Village gets final Shelton P&Z OK
SHELTON — After more than two years of heated public hearings, an initial Planning and Zoning Commission denial and a court appeal, Huntington Village is now officially a reality.
The Planning and Zoning Commission at its meeting Wednesday voted 4-1, with commissioner Jimmy Tickey opposed, to approve final design development plans for the development of 16 single-family homes behind the Huntington Congregational Church adjacent to Ripton Road.
“I believe what has been created here is a single-family village concept with pedestrian walkability that is unrivaled,” attorney Dominick Thomas, representing the developer, John Guedes of Primrose Development LLC, told the commission moments before the final approval.
Wednesday’s vote brings closure to the controversial proposal that was first submitted in 2018, denied by the commission and the denial appealed by Guedes who, while the appeal was still in court, filed a new project on the site for a massive 84-unit development with an affordable housing component.
The commission and Guedes reached a settlement in October 2019. At that time, the commission voted 4-2, with Tickey and fellow commissioner Mark Widomski opposed, to approve the deal that allowed for 16 single-family homes on approximately 6.15 acres behind the church.
“Throughout the public hearing process, the commission heard loud and clear from residents — they did not support this zone change,” Tickey told Hearst Connecticut Media after Wednesday’s meeting.
“This proposal is on 6.1 acres, less the 1.4 unbuildable acres, leaves 16 homes for 4.7 acres in an R-1 zone, not to mention in an already crowded Huntington Center,” Tickey added. “I do not believe this is good or balanced development, and do not support it.”
The settlement agreement contained three conditions: a permanent conservation easement of two acres along the Centerview Drive properties; a permanent landscape buffer abutting 24 Ripton Road, and no more than 16 single-family units on the final site plan.
The commission in 2018 denied a plan by Guedes for 20 detached homes on a wooded tract off Ripton Road with an entrance between Centerview Drive and Huntington Congregational's rear parking lot entrance.
To complete that project, Guedes sought to create a Planned Development District on the property although the land was zoned for one-acre and half-acre lots. It was denied.
Guedes appealed the denial. Earlier in 2019, while the appeal was still before the court, Guedes filed plans under section 8-30g of the state statutes for an 84-unit development on 6.5 acres on what is now Huntington Congregational Church-owned land.
The 8-30g statute gives developers of affordable housing projects that meet state criteria the ability to circumvent specific zoning rules, such as density regulations, setback distances and building heights.
The original plans for the detached housing caused an uproar when they were presented. Hundreds of people attended a public hearing on the application in the summer of 2018. In the end, the Planning and Zoning Commission denied the application. Guedes sued. It is that suit the settlement addresses.
Guedes said in February that if a settlement could be reached on the legal appeal, he would pull the affordable housing application. Guedes said that the church "needs to sell and try to maximize its profit," so one way or another the land would be sold.