Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission denies apartment plan at PerkinElmer site
SHELTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission has denied a request for a zone change that would have allowed the construction of 272 apartments at 710 Bridgeport Ave., a site that also houses PerkinElmer.
The commission, in its decision on Wednesday, cited concerns about the project’s density, with residential and industrial uses mixed on the site, and an increased traffic burden on Bridgeport Avenue.
The proposed development would also be inconsistent with the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development and, if approved, would hurt the ongoing downtown development, the commissioners said.
“This may result in a variety of land use conflicts,” the commission’s resolution said of integrating residential apartment units with the existing industrial, office, warehouse and retail development.
“There is currently an extensive existing supply of similar approved-but-not-yet constructed apartment units in the immediate vicinity,” the resolution said. “A substantial addition to this inventory of units and its marketing effect may adversely impact the ongoing revitalization of downtown Shelton.”
The plan had called for four buildings and 272 units with 10 percent of the units — 27 total — listed as affordable housing. The structure where PerkinElmer is located was to remain, with the four buildings built in the present parking area.
According to the resolution, the applicant’s marketing study information and data was compiled before the coronavirus crisis began.
“No one knows what the potential drawbacks of occupying high-density housing might be, and the effects it may have on market demand for multi-story high-density residential apartments as proposed,” stated the resolution. “It has been speculated that many more people may favor alternative lower-density development formats, unit design features and building arrangements to address social distancing and other concerns. Such concerns may negatively impact anticipated market absorption rates until more is known.”
The property owners were seeking a zone change for 710 Bridgeport Ave. to a Planned Development District in order to add the apartments to the location, which already has offices, light industry and warehouse space. PerkinElmer is the main tenant, and representatives from that company stated that they support the application.
“We do not need an additional 300 to 400 apartments on Bridgeport Avenue,” commissioner Jimmy Tickey said. “If approved, the traffic study will sit on a shelf, while we all experience the very real traffic problems that are growing every day on Bridgeport Avenue.”
Tickey said the commission is making the right decision to “maintain the zoning as-is to allow for a future office and warehousing use. If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it is a growing need for fulfillment and distribution centers.”
The city should protect remaining appropriate sites for smart economic development, he said.
“The commission should think strategically and follow the lead of Stratford, Trumbull and North Haven, which have successfully secured Amazon and other fulfillment centers, which provide long-term good paying jobs for people,” Tickey added.
Some residents had opposed the application, voicing concerns about density, and some city officials and developers said more apartments along Bridgeport Avenue would hurt downtown development.
Owners of The Mark, a nearby luxury apartment complex, have also voiced opposition.
Among those opposed were some members of the Board of Aldermen, most notably board President John Anglace Jr., who called on the commission to “just say no” to the plan.