With the amount and complexity of signage involved with today’s applications, the Planning & Zoning Commission has reestablished a subcommittee to focus on the issue.

Acting P&Z Administrator Ken Nappi said, after discussions with zoning consultant Tony Panico, the pair agreed that bringing the sign subcommittee back to life would be a benefit to the entire commission. The commission decided at its Tuesday, July 9, meeting to support this recommendation.

While the Fountain Square project was the impetus, Nappi said having this sign subcommittee handling proposed signage would expedite this process, since commissioners normally spend a significant amount of meeting time on the topic of signage.

The sign subcommittee members are commission Vice Chair Anthony Pogoda, Mark Widomski and Elaine Matto.

Public hearings set

The commission also set public hearing dates for two proposals.

One is a modification to the statement of standards and use for R.D. Scinto’s building at 899 and 905 Bridgeport Avenue. The public hearing was set for Wednesday, July 31, and, according to P&Z consultant Tony Panico, was merely a formality.

Panico said the building was approved for commercial use, but now the plan calls for a day care center to occupy more than 50 percent of the floor space, with creation of an outdoor play area as well. Panico said the plan changes are minor, but since the use must be modified to add the day care center, a public hearing is required.

The other public hearing set was for a modification to work previously approved at 122 Buddington Road. The property owner is seeking a reduction from the approved six single-family units to just two. The public hearing was set for Wednesday, Aug. 28.

“This is one of the few times that the applicant has asked to take a step back from what they have proposed,” said Panico.

Panico said that several years ago, the commission approved a Planned Development District on this “topographically difficult site,” which allowed for two houses up front on Buddington Road and a cluster of four or five single family homes in the buildable area in the back.

“The property owner finally decided not go to the huge expense of building a road to the rear,” said Panico, adding that the owners want to “undo” the previous approval and simply divide the property into two lots.

“But because the lots do not conform to zoning, we will stick with the PDD recognition and simply modify the detailed development plan and statement of use,” said Pancio.

There is presently one home built on Buddington Road, and approval of this modification would allow for construction of the second home.

Bond release tabled

The commission also tabled release of a $25,000 site bond on The Marketplace, located at 405-407 Bridgeport Avenue.

Pogoda asked for the bond release to be tabled until the property manager could prove that regular landscaping maintenance would be completed. Pogoda said that he began complaining to P&Z staff about the poor landscaping conditions in and around the site, particularly along the Buddington Road side, about three weeks ago, but he added that he has logged similar complaints in years passed.

“The applicant should be reminded they have to do this,” said Pogoda. “With the bond away, I do not think that they will be in a hurry to do this work.”

Nappi said he has spoken to the property manager as well as the city highway department — since some of the unmaintained property is city responsibility — and both have agreed to cut the overgrown grass areas.

“I’m not going to put up with it in that area,” said Pogoda. “The residents deserve better than that. It looks like a jungle, and it looks really bad for the applicant.”

Nappi said he will ask The Marketplace property manager for a copy of its contract with a landscape maintenance company. Commissioners also asked about the future of the vacant building on-site that has been considered for a coffee shop, then a real estate office, but neither option has come to pass.

“We will hold the site bond until the commission receives a maintenance contract,” said commission Chair Virginia Harger, adding that she will direct staff to get in touch with the applicant and get documentation on who maintains the landscaping as well as information on the vacant building.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com