Shelton P&Z against city land sale to Wesley Drive owner

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Two land use boards oppose a Wesley Drive resident’s request to purchase a portion of city open space which borders his property - but that does not mean the deal won’t happen.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its Zoom meeting Aug. 10, unanimously offered an unfavorable opinion on an 8-24 referral request submitted to the commission by the city. The Conservation Commission, in a letter submitted to P&Z, also opposed the sale of the portion of city open space.

“I feel we would open a Pandora’s box if we approved this,” Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Virginia Harger said. “I am reluctant to go on the record to sell open space when a property owner wants more property.”

But the commissions don’t have the final say in the matter.

To sell city property, officials need to obtain an 8-24 referral from the Planning and Zoning Commission. If an unfavorable referral - such as in this case - is given, the Board of Aldermen can override the opinion and sell the property. The sale is on the aldermen’s agenda for its meeting Wednesday.

The owner of 56 Wesley Drive had sought to purchase a 15-foot by 165-foot piece of open space on city property that abuts the homeowner’s land.

“The owners do not intend to build anything on this section but rather wish to use it for setback purposes should they install a pool, extend their deck or other improvements in the back yard,” city Administrative Assistant Jack Bashar stated in the application for the referral.

The home is within a housing development. Bashar told the commission that it had previously approved similar requests for three other properties in the development. All three had performed work, encroaching on the city open space before coming to Planning and Zoning for the referral.

“In this case,” Bashar said about the owners of 56 Wesley Drive, “the owners have correctly made the request to extend their backyard 15 feet into the city open space prior to any violation occurring.”

Conservation Commission Chair Tom Harbinson, who attended the P&Z meeting, said his commission values open space, adding that if the owners have a hardship they can go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Bashar, in defending the city’s request, said that the other landowners violated the rules but in the end were rewarded. The owner at 56 Wesley Drive is being punished for following the rules, Bashar said.

In another action, the Planning and Zoning Commission offered a positive referral for the city selling a land-locked 0.16-acre piece between Federal and Twin Brook roads. The Board of Aldermen will be addressing that sale at its meeting Wednesday.