P&Z: Hawks Ridge apartments likely to be approved

A proposed 89-unit apartment complex on Beard Sawmill Road received unanimous consensus approval Feb. 13 after Planning and Zoning Commission members appeared satisfied the additional traffic was manageable.
“It’s a good fit,” alternate Nancy Dickal said of the complex, in comments echoed by other members.

A consensus vote indicates how P&Z members plan to vote on an application in the future.
The Ridge at Sawmill would represent the final phase of the Hawks Ridge project by developer A.J. Grasso on a 41-acre property previously owned by the Wells family and zoned for light industrial use.
As part of a Planned Development District, single-family homes and townhouses have been built off Long Hill Cross Road and the Brightview assisted living facility is nearing completion on Beard Sawmill Road.
Hawks Ridge Luxury Rentals now wants to construct two apartment buildings on three acres of vacant land next to Brightview and Route 8.
The consensus vote came after a second presentation by the developer's traffic engineer, Craig Yannes. Several P&Z members had questioned some of Yannes’s conclusions at a previous meeting.
Member Mark Widomski said Yannes now has “sufficiently answered all my questions” about traffic. He said the planned apartment buildings are architecturally attractive and would complement the Brightview.
Chairman Virginia Harger said people with spouses in Brightview could potentially rent apartments in the new complex. Dickal said Grasso, a Shelton resident, is known for doing quality work.
Yannes told the P&Z the proposed Ridge at Sawmill should generate 36 new vehicle trips during the peak morning hour and 45 in the peak afternoon hour, based on newly completed traffic studies done at The Mark, a larger apartment complex nearby on Bridgeport Avenue.
The development “is not expected to significantly impact the local roadways,” he said, estimating 75% of the apartment dwellers would head toward the Route 8 interchange on Old Stratford Road via Far Mill Crossing rather than using Bridgeport Avenue.
Members are worried about more congestion on Bridgeport Avenue near Commerce Drive and Old Stratford Road from the apartments, Brightview and the approved massive Shelter Ridge project nearby. They also noted no traffic light exists at the Far Mill Crossing intersection with Old Stratford Road.
But Yannes said an apartment building would bring much less traffic than an office, medical facility, shopping center or light industrial use on the land.
“This is a low traffic generator,” Grasso emphasized. “There are very few uses for that property that would generate less.”
The apartment parcel previously had been approved for 89 assisted living units. No one spoke against the proposal during the public hearing.
The four-story apartment buildings would have 148 parking spaces, share a driveway with Brightview, and most units would be one or two bedroom.
New Aquarion facility
The P&Z unanimously approved a new water pump station at the Trap Falls Reservoir off Huntington Street.
The Aquarion Water Co. facility will replace two existing pump stations and be near the treatment plant. The site is close to the rear of the former Avalon Huntington rental complex.
The pump station would occupy about 4,000 square feet, be about 28 feet tall, and have mechanical and electrical rooms. Gary Simard of AECOM, project engineer, said Aquarion staff probably would only visit the facility once a day because most operations will be handled from the treatment plant.
Simard said the station's generator shouldn't produce much noise. existing evergreen trees would screen much of the building from Huntington Street and some new landscaping will be added.
Bull & Barley patio
A new outdoor patio was approved for the Bull & Barley restaurant at 350 Bridgeport Ave. after extensive discussion by P&Z.
The patio will be on the side of the restaurant, accessible through a large new doorway in the building.
The patio should be about 440 square feet and extend into the side parking area by more than 17 feet. Four parking spaces will be eliminated, one more than originally proposed, due to safety concerns.
Members asked how to best protect people on the patio from moving vehicles due to the patio's proximity to parking and the driveway. Widomski said having a patio near parking spaces in a place that serves alcohol “may not be a good mix.”
A larger patio had been approved for the previous owner, when the establishment was called the Draft House, but it was never built.
An outdoor walk-in cooler in the rear of the restaurant also was approved.