P&Z raises concerns about changes in approved plan by Toll Brothers

A Toll Brothers representative recently gave a presentation on the design, landscaping and materials to be used for the Shelton Cove development now under construction on River Road.

The March 11 presentation to the Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) raised some concerns about whether the well-known housing developer is following all aspects of the plan previously approved for 12.4-acre riverfront tract.

“It appears you’re trying to cut costs on this project, and that’s the last thing we want to see you do,” said Ruth Parsons, P&Z chairman.

P&Z member Thomas McGorty added that the company “can’t deviate too much” from the previous plan that was approved.

P&Z approval for the project, which involved a zone change, was given when another development company was going to handle the project. That company later sold the land to Toll Brothers, which now is developing the site using the same P&Z-approved plan.

Tailoring the project

Jeffrey R. Meinke, Toll Brothers project manager, said the company was simply trying to “tailor the project to our design standards.”

Meinke stressed the company didn’t want to “cheapen” the development, with its waterfront location being a major selling point.

He said the company is “keeping with the [approved] footprint” by placing homes, roads and related infrastructure where required.

Meinke only began working on the project in January. Construction began last fall, and the model home structural frame now is taking shape.

The P&Z’s concerns focused primarily on architecture and landscaping.

Will be 36 townhouses

Shelton Cove will have 36 upscale townhouses on land that borders the Housatonic River, on Route 110 a few miles south of downtown Shelton. Fourteen structures with two or three units each will be built. It will operate as a condominium.

Meinke was asked to attend the recent P&Z meeting to provide an update on the project, focusing on the design and materials.

The project has received a lot of publicity because the real estate previously was owned by Mayor Mark Lauretti, who turned a substantial profit when he sold the land to the initial developer.

Questions on vinyl siding

The Shelton Cove structures will feature carriage doors and weathered architectural shingle siding, with thin stone as a design element. The shingle siding will be made of vinyl, not wood.

When asked about using vinyl, Meinke said that’s “the material of choice” for developments such as Shelton Cove because it can last 30 years.

The color motif will have browns, beiges and white.

There will be five building designs: Bradbury, Lehman, Lenox, Portman and Sinclair. The townhouses will be split level, with one of the three stories only being visible from either the front or back, depending on the specific design.

Balconies and landscaping

Parsons said the new building designs do not seem to include balconies, which she believed were in the approved plan.

As for landscaping, Toll Brothers would like to make changes in the approved plan. Richard Schultz, P&Z administrator, said the suggested changes appear to be “substantial.”

Parsons noted that a former P&Z member with landscaping experience had worked with the previous applicant to come up with an appropriate plan. “We relied on her expertise,” she said.

Meinke said the company has concluded “some of the species are not suited for that area,” and the size of some shrubs and trees may not be appropriate for the site.

“Our experts thought this would be better,” he said of the suggested landscaping changes being made by Toll Brothers.

‘Not looking for an easy out’

Meinke assured P&Z members he would work with P&Z staff and members to do what is appropriate. “We’re not looking for an easy out,” Meinke said.

Schultz, describing the project as “a work in progress,” said he would get together with Toll Brothers officials to go over the approved plan as well as their suggested adjustments.