Shelton zoning board OKs expanded townhouse project

Photo of Brian Gioiele
The Daybreak Ridge development, off of River Road in Shelton, has received approval to increase its final unit count from 34 to 36.

The Daybreak Ridge development, off of River Road in Shelton, has received approval to increase its final unit count from 34 to 36.

Brian Gioiele / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Developers of a River Road townhouse project will get what they originally wanted after all.

Key Development, which had seen the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission pare its original proposal for 36 units in seven buildings down to 34 in November of 2019, received approval to go back to 36 units at the commission’s Sept. 14 meeting.

The developers had returned to the commission late last year seeking to add two units to one of the buildings. And after two meetings with the developers, the commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the request.

“I understand 36 are allowed by zoning, and we knew that from the start,” commissioner Jimmy Tickey, who opposed both the original and present applications said. “We deliberated, heard from the public and landed on 34 units in a 5-1 vote (in November 2019).

Tickey said he was concerned that the move back to 36 units could set a precedent of developers agreeing to a certain number of units that the commission was comfortable with, then coming back after the public hearings to argue for a return to the “full allotment” of units allowable under zoning regulations.

“The zoning could allow for many other units at other sites we have approved as well, and we do not always allow for the full allotment,” Tickey said.

The commission had approved the condominium project on the 12.39-acre lot at 85-97 River Road after voicing concerns about the project’s density and the proximity of some units to the large rock wall on the site.

At the time of the approval in 2019, zoning consultant Anthony Panico said he received “good cooperation” from the developers, who agreed to several alterations to try and satisfy commission concerns, especially the proximity of units to the rock face.

Panico said the developers chose to reduce the unit total to 34 to ease concerns from commissioners. Panico said the developers have since found - after initial grading on the site - that there is more usable space than originally thought, which would allow for the additional units.

“When they come back it leaves me with a feeling of being played,” Commissioner Elaine Matto said. “But I don’t see us having any choice.”

Matto said the buildable land allows for 36 units, and that was before the grading that has been completed

She said her concern in the original application was the rock face being so steep and so close to the units.

“If they managed to make that better, and it sounds like he has, that would be the end of my previous objection,” Matto said.

The original approval was for a special exception use in a R3 multi-family residential zone. A special permit or special exception use is presumed to be a permitted use if the reasonable standards of the regulations are met, the commissioners said.

The commissioners often noted the property’s constraints, specifically the steep slopes, the rock, the watercourse and wetlands. Panico has stated the property owner has met with zoning officials many times over the last 10 years to discuss ways to develop the site.