The Planning & Zoning Commission has officially accepted the 84-unit affordable housing application for 16 Ripton Road in Huntington Center, submitted by developer John Guedes.
At the April 9 meeting, no date was set for a public hearing on the plan as interim P&Z Administrator Ken Nappi said the application had been received only a few days earlier.
Nappi said staff had little time to look over the plan before the meeting, and perhaps June would be a good time for the public hearing on the proposal to begin.
“I think that would be a very logical approach for this application,” Nappi said.
Staff will report back to the P&Z about exactly when they think a hearing date should be set, based on the complexity of the application, which was filed under state statute 8-30g, known as the affordable housing law.
Under 8-30g, municipalities with limited affordable housing face an extra burden when turning down a proposal for a development with a certain percentage of affordable units.
A letter was read into the record indicating Guedes has a contract to potentially purchase the 6.1-acre site from the Huntington Congregational Church.
Guedes also has submitted the required affordability plan for the project as part of the application, Nappi said. Affordability plans for 8-30g proposals offer specifics about what units would rent or sell for and the income eligibility rules for potential tenants or owners.
Resident Leo Sands criticized the project during the meeting’s public speaking portion. Sands told the P&Z he plans to protest the application by picketing near the Huntington Congregational Church, but was quickly told by P&Z Chairman Virginia Harger he couldn’t discuss applications on the agenda during the part of the meeting when he spoke.
Later, during an interview, Sands said he plans to carry a protest sign every morning to voice his opposition.
He said the church and Guedes were hurting the city with such a proposal. “What they’re doing is not Christian,” Sands said. “It’s about the money — the almighty buck. It’s outrageous to be held hostage by the builder.”
Guedes' original plan - which was before the Planning & Zoning Commission last year - called for 20 detached housing units, named Huntington Village, on a wooded tract off Ripton Road, with an entrance between Centerview Drive and Huntington Congregational's rear parking lot entrance. To complete the project, Guedes had sought to create a Planned Development District (PDD) on the property which was zoned for one-acre and half-acre lots.
The Huntington Village development would have had two private cul-de-sacs, and 1.4 acres — or 23% of the overall site — would have been set aside as open space. Homes would have three bedrooms, two-car garages in most cases, and be connected to city sewers and public water. The detached single-family homes would be part of a condominium association, and the condo owners would not own individual lots.
The plans caused quite an uproar, with hundreds of people attending a public hearing on the application last summer at Shelton Intermediate School. In the end, the Planning & Zoning Commission denied the application, and Guedes' legal appeal of that decision is presently winding through the court system.
Guedes told the Shelton Herald that the affordable housing application would be pulled if a settlement can be reached on the legal appeal — with the developer's ultimate hope being that he can build his low-density project, even if he agrees to reduce the amount by a couple of homes. He said, at present, no settlement meetings have been held.
"I want the quality of life in the center to be maintained, and I think that the original plan did that," said Guedes. "I'm hopeful that level heads prevail here, and we can negotiate a settlement, even if I give up a couple homes in the process. I don't want a high-density development here, but at the same time, you can't stop progress."
Guedes said that the church "needs to sell and try to maximize its profit," so one way or another the land will be sold.