Shelton P&Z: Senior housing plan hits parking roadblock

In a surprise move, the proposed Crossroads adult housing development on Long Hill Cross Road did not receive zoning approval at the April 9 meeting.
Instead, the Planning & Zoning Commission tabled the application for the over-55 community so developer S&G of Shelton LLC can work with staff to create more parking closer to units.

The plan calls for all 30 residential units to have one garage space and most to have a second driveway spot in front of the garage. However, the second spot for about a third of the units would be slightly farther away in scattered parking areas off the complex driveway due to the shortness of driveways.
“I don’t think someone should have to walk 50 feet to their house,” member Tony Pogoda said.
Three of six P&Z members weren’t willing to approve the project without most, if not all, units having a second parking space very close to the front door.
During an earlier consensus vote, when members indicated how they would vote at a future meeting, the project appeared headed for approval with a 4-2 favorable outcome. However, a different sixth voting member was present for that Feb. 13 meeting than at the April 9 meeting.
City land-use consultant Tony Panico will now work with the applicant on re-designing the layout to create more parking closer to units, perhaps by having tandem two-car garages or by creating parallel parking spaces in the driveway next to homes. The redesign could lead to eliminating some of the 30 residences.
The development at 96 Long Hill Cross Road would have 15 duplex buildings and one small community building. The structures would be on both sides of the narrow L-shared lot.
The applicant wants to change the zone to a Planned Development District (PDD) for the project, which would be restricted to residents age 55 or older. The development would have as many 80 sparking spaces, which is well more than required, although the placement of certain spaces is the main concern.
Some P&Z members also worry about the proximity of several residences to the Route 8 highway and industrial buildings. The 5.5-acre property is zoned for industrial use and borders the highway.
“I think you can find another use for it,” member Mark Widomski said. “I don’t like giving up industrial.”
But other members indicated using the parcel for another use would present challenges.
Member Jimmy Tickey said the site’s topography makes residential a better fit than industrial, crediting the developer for previously working with the P&Z to add parking and widen the driveway. He said senior housing was needed in the city and some future development residents — whether couples or singles — won’t have two vehicles.
Chairman Virginia Harger pointed out the P&Z was only being asked to approve a PDD, and many plan specifics would be finalized later, but Widomski said he wanted to see any desired changes before voting on whether to create a PDD.
During the discussion, Panico said Mayor Mark Lauretti had suggested the P&Z consider whether some units at the proposed development could be designated as affordable.
Members indicated it was too late to do that, with the plan having been under consideration for months without any talk of requiring affordable units. “At this stage of the game, I don’t think it’s appropriate,” said Harger, adding the P&Z should consider asking for affordable units in certain projects in the future.
During the application process, the developer has made various adjustments to try to gain approval. S&G of Shelton is affiliated with developer Ben Perry.
Two approvals

P&Z approved final development plans for another phase of the Fountain Square complex under construction at 801 Bridgeport Ave., where a former United Illuminating facility was located.
The approved Phase 3 involves one large structure to be built close to the Parrott Drive and Bridgeport Avenue intersection, which will have a barbecue restaurant with an outside patio and various retail stores. A CVS pharmacy had been expected to occupy the location but now may be built elsewhere on Bridgeport Avenue.
The overall Fountain Square site is 19.1 acres and will include restaurants such as Chick-fil-A and Panera Bread, two retail buildings, a hotel and small office structure. The P&Z wants the developer to present a sign plan for the entire development, which will use addresses from 745 to 801 Bridgeport Ave.
The P&Z also approval initial concept plans for a mixed-use development at Center Street and Coram Avenue in downtown Shelton. Existing structures, including where Jeff’s Appliance is located, will be demolished to make way for a five-story building with a restaurant, 42 apartments and interior parking.
State environmental officials recently signed off on a plan to alter the Burying Ground Brook that flows underneath the site. “This was a long, drawn-out process to get this done,” developer engineer James Swift said of the state permitting process.
Some members have concerns about a new driveway onto Center Street between Howe Avenue and Center Street, an area known for congestion. Swift said state traffic officials will need to sign off on the new driveway because Center Street is a state highway, and may require new signage. A second driveway will be on Coram Avenue.
The 0.48-acre site’s legal addresses are 62-66 Center St. and 325 Coram Ave. The developer, 62 Center Street LLC., is based in Boston.