Perry Hill Estates housing plan foes focus on zone change request
Neighbors continued to oppose the Perry Hill Estates development proposal at a recent zoning meeting, while the developer has eliminated one home from the plan, altered the road network design, and added visitor parking areas.
Many opponents, including the Conservation Commission, questioned why the developer wants to create a Planned Development District (PDD) rather than pursue a regular subdivision.
In a letter expressing its “extreme opposition” to the proposal, the Conservation Commission said the PDD approach is simply a way of “plopping down a more dense development in a residential zone to maximize profits.”
Dominick Thomas, the developer’s attorney, countered that a PDD would give the P&Z more control over the development — and that would benefit the city.
With a PDD, Thomas said, the P&Z could mandate a buffer with nearby homes, as well as visitor parking areas and privately maintained roads, and better prevent new homeowners from encroaching on wetlands and other natural resources in the future.
The PDD plan being presented would lead to more than 40% of the property being left as open space, which would be maintained by a private homeowners’ association, Thomas said at the P&Z public hearing on Nov. 12.
Claims of 'overdevelopment'
Most neighbors, however, were not impressed. They remain concerned about the implications of granting a zone change, potential traffic, and how blasting might affect their wells and septic systems. Many called the proposal a case of “overdevelopment.”
“Would you want this to happen in your neighborhood?” asked Annette Gianatasio of Walnut Avenue.
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“Don’t sell our soul for this development.”
— A Neighbor
“Adding cars is not the right thing to do,” said Roy Demague of Perry Hill Road.
Michael and Lauren Petrucelli of Walnut Avenue said blasting done in the area in the past caused problems in their yard and basement, and they worry that could happen again with the new development.
Speakers: Follow the master plan
Opponents worry that the adjoining Highland Golf Club could eventually be turned into housing, and about the precedent that creating a PDD would have on such a large property in their neighborhood.
Most of the Perry Hill Estates land now is zoned for one-acre lots (R-1), with a small portion zoned for half-acre lots (R-2).
Many of the opposition speakers said the current R-1 and R-2 zones are consistent with the current master plan, and deviating to a PDD would violate that long-range planning tool.
But Thomas said many of the concerns being raised by opponents “would be here for a subdivision” as well.
Neighbors presented various petitions — with signatures collected personally and online — and letters, representing about 200 people in opposition to the plan.
Some people did speak in favor of the application. They said the developer does quality work and hires local tradespeople, the plan would increase the tax base and leave much of the land undeveloped, and its proximity to a school would be good for families with children.
“I think it will be a beautiful neighborhood,” Robert Skinner, of Long Hill Cross Road, said of the development.
Developer's plan has been revised
S&G of Shelton, affiliated with developer Ben Perry, has applied to create a Planned Development District (PDD) for a “cluster” housing development at 88-94 Perry Hill Road, near Walnut Avenue.
Two parcels totaling 13.5 acres would be combined to create 12.6 acres for the development, with the rest of the land forming a lot for a separate, existing house.
James Swift, the developer’s engineer, presented a revised conceptual plan at the most recent P&Z meeting.
The new plan eliminates one home so it now has 25 houses. It adds one cul-de-sac and eliminates some longer driveway connections, to improve access for emergency vehicles and trucks.
Sixteen designated visitor parking spaces have been added in seven locations. The main entrance has been moved slightly on Perry Hill Road to improve sight lines.
The main entrance would be on Perry Hill Road, with a gated, emergency-only entrance on Walnut Avenue.
Swift said only minor blasting and some rock excavation would be needed to build the development.
Association would be formed
The 25 homes would be unattached and individually owned but part of a common-interest community with an association to oversee the roads and common land areas, including two detention ponds to handle water runoff.
There would be a combination of three-bedroom and two-bedroom homes, with slightly more three-bedroom houses. The goal is to attract empty nesters, according to the developer.
The developer is offering to give a 20-foot strip to adjoining property owners on Walnut Avenue to help create a buffer.
Ken Huzi of Walnut Avenue, who has organized neighbors against the plan, said allowing such dense housing enables developers and lawyers to make money and move on, “but we’re stuck with [it] for future generations.” “Don’t sell our soul for this development,” Huzi told the P&Z.
The P&Z has closed the public hearing on the proposal. It is expected to discuss the application at its Dec. 9 meeting, when it might take an informal vote to see if there is a consensus among members.