The vacant Carroll’s Home Improvement Centre on Howe Avenue will soon get a new lease on life, after the Planning & Zoning Commission gave unanimous approval to plans to build a housing and retail complex at the site.

The action came at the P&Z’s Sept. 25 meeting, and the new development will be known as Cedar Village. The development will consist of 33 studio- and one-bedroom apartments, a handful of retail stores and parking for residents and shoppers. The existing L-shaped building will be incorporated into the new structure, which will be four stories tall.

In granting its approval, the commission attached a number of stipulations. For starters, the original plan called for additional curb cuts and a mid-block crosswalk on Howe Avenue, which was vetoed by the city engineering department. In granting its approval, the commission directed its developers - Cedar Village Development, LLC - to “fully satisfy any concerns of the engineering department, the fire marshal and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.”

Moreover, the final architectural drawings and signage plans will require city approval. In addition, any areas on the property that are found to be “disturbed” by the construction process will need to be rectified to the commission’s satisfaction.

This was just the first phase of the planned development at the site; a second phase of the development will add more apartments, but the exact number is yet to be determined. At a public hearing in July, Shelton residents raised concerns about over-development at the site - which sent phase two back to the drawing board. Carroll’s went out of business in April of 2014 after 60 years at the site.

More apartments downtown

A public hearing on a different matter actually took up the largest portion of the commission’s agenda. This was for Bridge Street Commons II, a multi-story building that would consist of 72 apartments, two retail spaces and on-site parking. It has been the subject of multiple commission meetings over the past two months, and at the conclusion of the hearing commissioners voted to close the matter.

The new building would complement an existing apartment building, Bridge Street Commons. When finished it would offer 20 studio apartments, 40 one-bedroom units, four one-bedrooms with an additional den space, and eight two-bedroom apartments. The exterior facade would consist of brick, stone and wood siding.

At the request of a restaurant owner in the existing Bridge Street building, an emergency traffic exit was incorporated into the plans for the new building.

“We’ve designed a push-bar system, but it will require approval of the city fire marshal,” said Patrick Rose, president of Rose, Tiso and Associates of Fairfield, the new building’s architect.

Commissioner Mark Widomski questioned the adequacy of the proposed building’s single elevator.

“One elevator for 72 apartments doesn’t seem to be enough,” Widomski said.

Rose countered that the industry standard is one elevator per 100 apartments. It was developed by Farmington-based Otis, the predominant maker of residential and commercial elevators.

David Eldridge, who lives at 17 Seneca Road, was the sole resident who spoke at the hearing. He suggested that the developers and commissioners now have an opportunity to improve that existing restaurant’s garbage-disposal methodology.

“You’re going to put all this money [into the new building]… does it make sense to have eight to 10 garbage cans on the street several times a week?” Eldridge asked.

New neighbors for Perkin Elmer?

A mixed-use development plan for 710 Bridgeport Avenue occupied the final hearing of the evening. The site is now partially occupied by an office building occupied by Perkin Elmer Corp. and Panolam.

The plans call for the addition of 340 apartments at the site, which would be spread among five separate buildings. Each building would have lower-level parking for residents. Two of the buildings would take up part of an underutilized parking lot in the rear corner of the parcel, while the remaining three would be spread out in the heavily wooded, undeveloped area at the front. A clubhouse and recreational facility. would be adjacent to the front of the complex.

“Is there any blasting that would have to be done?” asked Commission Chair Virginia Harger.

Dominick Thomas, principal attorney at Cohen & Thomas of Derby, responded that there would be some.

Joseph Hammer, an attorney for the law firm of Day Pitney, also weighed in. His firm represents Perkin Elmer, and Hammer noted that it is working with the developers to address any impacts the development would have on existing tenants.

Widomski noted that taking into account the proposed apartment units, the city would have a grand total of 1,010 newly constructed apartments. “Has anyone taken into consideration what impact this will have on fire and safety?” he asked, noting that the city’s firefighters are all volunteer. He called for city staff to conduct an impact study on apartment construction, with input from EMS, fire, police and public works.

A medical emergency prevented one of project’s presenters from attending the meeting, and it was continued to Oct. 23.