Shelton P&Z wants off-site parking at Canal St. development

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Developing the former Chromium Process site must include the developer guaranteeing 45 parking spaces, at least nine of which would need to be off site.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its meeting Tuesday, asked consultant Tony Panico to prepare a resolution approving, with conditions, John Guedes’ request for a Planned Development District at 113 Canal St.

The plans call for the development of a four-story building with first-floor retail space and 30 apartments on upper floors and 38 parking spaces. The development, named Chromium Commons, is planned on land between Canal Street East and Canal Street West that is presently used for city parking.

The approval would come with conditions, the most major calling for Guedes to “guarantee” a specific number of off-site spaces, which combined with the 38 onsite reach the required 1 ½ per unit as stated in the zoning regulations.

The 38 parking spaces with 30 units equals a 1.27 parking ratio. Zoning regulations require a 1.5 parking ratio, or a total of 45 spaces, so at least nine spaces have to be provided offsite somewhere, and the commission wants specific “private parking” spaces obtained somewhere.

Since 2018, the former Chromium Process lot has been used for parking. But Commissioner Ruth Parkins noted that this site was always designated for redevelopment, not parking.

Guedes has stated that the parking he has proposed for his development is adequate, with any spillover going to the Conti lot, a municipal parking area adjacent to the Chromium Process site.

Parkins added that any developer who cannot meet the required parking should be forced to lease the necessary amount.

“We can’t just say, ‘Use the Conti lot,’” she said. “That is not fair to other developers down there.”

Commission Chair Virginia Harger agreed with Parkins, and fellow Commissioner Jimmy Tickey joined in emphasizing the need for more parking downtown.

“Downtown has a parking problem and the city must address it,” Tickey said. “We need a central place downtown for parking, which will alleviate the cars circulating looking for parking and help downtown businesses.”

The city is in the process of leasing the parking spaces on the Yankee Gas property, located across the street from the now completed Cedar Village at Carroll’s. Those additional 70 spaces are still unavailable as remediation must be completed before the spaces are created.

The city also leases parking spaces at the Conti building.

Panico added that owners of 62-66 Center St. and 325 Coram Ave., a 0.48-acre site that includes the building that formerly housed Jeff’s Appliance and a house, are rumored to be considering a modification to modify a PDD received for the site several years ago.

That modification, Panico said, would call for a restaurant on the top level, retail on the first floor, and the remaining area used as a garage for parking for its tenants’ needs. Any extra parking spaces would be made available to others at a fee, he added.

The resolution for Chromium Commons will be prepared and discussed at a future commission meeting.

Panico said the commission could approve the application for the PDD, but if Guedes does not provide information that satisfies the conditions, the commission does not have to sign off on the final development.

Chromium Commons has become a lightning rod for those charging that downtown parking is already woefully inadequate. But that criticism is undeserved, according to Guedes, who has stated that there is enough parking downtown to accommodate additional development, the city just needs to take steps to alert drivers to its existence.

In a letter to the commission submitted earlier this year, Angelo Melisi, Jr.,the developer of Bridge Street Commons I and II in the heart of downtown, called for the denial of Guedes’s plans as presently submitted.

“Given the current situation in downtown Shelton, and in the immediate vicinity of this proposal, this is simply not enough parking,” Melisi wrote in the letter.

Melisi said he supports the development of more apartments and commercial space downtown but wrote “I do object to the construction of more apartments and more commercial space without adequate parking.”