Shelton Wetlands Commission considers denying Shelter Ridge for insufficient info
SHELTON — The city’s Inland Wetlands Commission appears to be leaning toward denying the controversial Towne Center at Shelter Ridge proposal because, they say, the application is incomplete.
The commission, during its meeting Thursday in the City Hall auditorium and streamed live on the city’s YouTube page, made no decision, but members agreed they would meet with city corporation counsel Fran Teodosio to discuss creation of a draft resolution denying the application. That meeting will be live streamed on the city’s website at 10 a.m. May 14.
“This project we are talking about impacts two waterways,” said commission alternate Joseph Reilly III. “I think the plans are insufficient. I want to deny it.”
Commission Chair Gary Zahornasky said he was “uncomfortable” approving the application, which calls for a development with 450 housing units in a nine-story apartment building, more than 300,000 square feet of retail space and more than 3,000 parking spaces along 121 acres at the intersection of Mill Street and Bridgeport Avenue.
“I think we are in agreement that there is insufficient information,” said commissioner Ken Nappi. “The applicant is saying one thing, the intervener is saying another, and our consultant is saying he doesn’t know. We can’t make a decision with what we feel is insufficient information.”
Zahornasky said the commission has three options — approval with conditions; deny with specific details on the adverse impacts that led to the decision; and deny due to insufficient information, which would not, according to the chair, preclude the developer from resubmitting a new application.
“Our responsibility is to protect the waterways, but our responsibility is also to protect the residents that live in the area,” said Nappi.
Zahornasky said the plans now before the commission are the same ones submitted in 1997. None of the changes the developer agreed to or suggestions from the city or critics were included on the plans in hand at the time that the public hearing closed, he added.
The public hearing, officially closed in March, had been open for more than a year, a point of contention by project opponent Save Our Shelton. Steve Trinkaus, a civil engineer advising the grassroots group, told the commission during its Feb. 6 public hearing that, under state statute, the hearing should have closed in May 2018 and a final ruling should have been made by July 2018.
Teodosio disagreed, saying the commission, with permission of the applicant, can keep the public hearing open as long as necessary.
Greg Tetro of Save Our Shelton stated the application has “failed under many factors” in studies done by Trinkaus, the city engineer and LandTech, a firm hired by the city to perform an independent peer review of submitted evidence and that while all engineers involved — including those representing Towne Center at Shelter Ridge — are qualified, three are opposed to the project and only one in favor.
The Planned Development District for the site was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2017 by a 4-2 vote, with commissioners Jimmy Tickey and Anthony Pogoda Jr. opposed. The P&Z decision was appealed, and that appeal has since been denied.