Shelton condo plan challenge: Putting a driveway in a complicated intersection

How to get people in and out of a proposed 20-unit condominium complex at a complicated intersection is presenting challenges for the developer.

“Traffic is the greatest issue,” developer John Guedes, who wants to build the condo at 39 Shelton Road in Shelton, told the city Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) during a Nov. 18 public hearing on the application.

The 2.1-acre property is at the intersection of Shelton Road, Huntington Street, Bridgeport Avenue, and Huntington Road. It has frontage on Shelton Road and Huntington Street.

Shelton Road is the same street as Bridgeport Avenue, south of the Huntington Street/Huntington Road intersection.

The parcel also is only a few hundred feet from the Trumbull and Stratford town borders, and just off Exit 11 of the Route 8 highway.

Potential ‘traffic conflicts’?

City Engineer Robert F. Kulacz opposes the condo project application, saying the parcel lacks the needed frontage to put a driveway near the four-way intersection.

Among other objections to the application, Kulacz has raised concerns about “traffic conflicts” and whether drivers exiting the proposed complex would use other driveways or roads to turn around once on Shelton Road.

The developer’s traffic engineer, David Sullivan of the firm Milone & MacBroom, said the development would increase traffic by up to 15 vehicles per peak travel hour. “It’s not a big traffic generator,” Sullivan said.

The land is now zoned Residence-1 (R-1) for one house per acre. Pond Meadow LLC, affiliated with Guedes, wants to change the zone to create a Planned Development District to allow for the four-building condo complex.

Entrance and exit ideas

One recent change made in the proposal is to possibly have one driveway on Shelton Road. The initial plan had driveways on both Shelton Road and Huntington Street.

This change was made after informal meetings with city zoning staff, Guedes said, partly because there is considerably less traffic on Shelton Road than on Huntington Street.

Sullivan presented the P&Z with possible ways to handle the intersection. They are to extend the esplanade on Shelton Road — the south side of the intersection — farther south (toward Trumbull); eliminate the existing esplanade; or move the driveway slightly north to enable people coming north on Shelton Road to turn left into the driveway after the esplanade.

At one point during his presentation, Sullivan said he still favored having two driveways. “I do like the two-access driveway plan,” he said.

Extending the esplanade

Most attention was focused on the idea of extending the esplanade — or median — so a curved area could be created at the southern edge of the esplanade to help drivers get in or out of the complex.

The extended esplanade would essentially let motorists turn around in the road when going from the condo driveway to the intersection, or coming from the intersection to the driveway.

Neighbors opposed to the project — they live in both Shelton and Trumbull — questioned whether this approach would lead to confusion by drivers, and to motorists instead using nearby driveways and roads to turn around.

Brian Frickson of Lobsterback Road called it “laughable” that large trucks — such as moving vans — could get in and out of the condo driveway, based on the possible designs presented.

Jason Zacragnini of Huntington Street said traffic on his road is so bad now that he has trouble getting out his driveway, especially at peak times.

Glenn Learnard of Golden Hill Street in Trumbull said he thinks the developer is underestimating the number of cars at the four-way intersection.

‘Higher comfort level’

P&Z Chairman Ruth Parkins said she would need “a higher comfort level [the driveway plan] will work.”

P&Z member Nancy Dickal said the intersection, which she uses regularly, already is busy and the proposed changes could create “a real safety issue.”

But Raymond Rizio, attorney for the applicant, said “a well-regarded traffic engineer” such as Sullivan can design a workable plan as the zoning process continues.

The public hearing on the Pond Meadow plan will be continued to Jan. 13.

Look for more coverage on the proposed condo complex in the coming week.