Shelter Ridge development back before Shelton wetlands commission

SHELTON — Plans for the Shelter Ridge development are back before the Inland Wetlands Commission — two years after developers pulled them off the table. 

The commission, at its meeting Thursday, stated it will set a public hearing at a future date for the project, which includes 375 one- and two-bedroom apartments, plus multiple retail and office buildings and 3,000 parking spaces on a 121-acre site at the intersection of Mill Street and Bridgeport Avenue. 

The project has remained in limbo, as the developers pulled the application from the Inland Wetlands Commission in October 2020, two weeks after Civil 1 — a Shelton-based engineering firm hired by the city to review all plans and perform its own analysis of the project — presented its review highlighting several areas it deemed incomplete. 

Attorney Dominick Thomas informed the commission at that time that the developers, who he represents, intended to refile after meeting with Civil 1 engineers to discuss the firm’s findings. 

The commission also voted to recommend the rehiring of Civil 1 to review the updated plans. 

The withdrawal does not affect the P&Z approval of a Planned Development District (PDD) for the project, according to Thomas. The PDD would allow an apartment building five stories high facing Bridgeport Avenue and three stories facing Buddington Road, based on the topography. The district also would allow for more than 300,000 square feet of retail space. 

Last year, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision on the Planning and Zoning Commission’s 2017 approval of the Shelter Ridge development

In 2019, a Hartford Superior Court judge, in the case of John Tillman and Judith Tillman vs. The Shelton Planning & Zoning Commission, dismissed the Tillmans’ appeal, stating that the “plaintiffs have failed to establish that the decision was illegal or contrary to law, the commission acted arbitrarily or in abuse of discretion, or that the decision was not supported by substantial evidence.” 

The Tillmans then appealed that verdict in the state Supreme Court. 

The group Save Our Shelton, which formed in 2016 in response to the proposal, had done extensive fundraising to support the appeal. 

This ruling was the latest step in a process that began more than five years ago. After six public hearings, with hundreds of people voicing opposition, the Planning & Zoning Commission approved the PDD and zone change for the Towne Center at Shelter Ridge development at its March 7, 2017, meeting. The commission approved the plan by a 4-2 vote, with commissioners Virginia Harger, Elaine Matto, Ned Miller and Ruth Parkins voting in favor and Anthony Pogoda, Jr., and Jimmy Tickey against. 

Residents had voiced concerns about the possible negative effects of the plan, saying that the development and zone change would result in an increase in the volume of traffic the city currently experiences, increase an already high density of rental housing, result in blasting and construction for up to 10 years, and pollute the Mill River and local wildlife habitat.