Expanded 'upscale' Shelton development plan includes marina, housing

SHELTON — Plans to bring an “upscale” development on River Road along the Housatonic River now include the long derelict Autoswage site. 

Developers Ricar, LLC, and Mianus Holdings, LLC, who had previously received Planned Development District approval for land listed at 704, 712 and 722 River Road, have now added the neighboring lot at 726 River Road, the former Autoswage site, and are proposing an expansion of the original plans to include condominiums and an office building. 

The Planning and Zoning Commission opened a public hearing on this proposed project — which is located across from Murphy’s Lane and the Crescent Village housing development. The commission voted to continue the public hearing to a future date.

"This is an extremely high-end project, one geared toward people who have an interest in the water,” said attorney Dominick Thomas, who represents the developers.  

The PDD approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2019 was for the Great River Water Club, with three buildings and 102 apartments, 100 marina slips, a public restaurant, a boathouse with training and fitness facilities, boat storage, and a public walkway that would encircle the perimeter of the 8.6-acre property.  

But with the Autoswage site in hand, Thomas said the developer has applied to the commission for a modification to the PDD as the overall area has been increased from 8.6 acres to nearly 12 acres.  

The new plan would relocate and increase the size of the previously approved restaurant and event facility, add a 7,800-square-foot office building, reduce the 102 previously approved apartments to 90 apartments, and add 35 condominium units to the existing PDD site.  

The plan calls for the restaurant and event facility to be relocated to 726 River Road and increased in size along with the new medical office building.

According to the plan, the 102 approved apartments in three buildings will be reduced to 90 apartments in two buildings, with 45 units in each structure. There will be 28 one-bedroom units, 50 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units, the plan states.  

The 35-unit condominium will have 14 one-bedroom units, 17 two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units.  

The developers also presented a traffic study, prepared by SLR International Corp., which concluded that the increase in traffic because of the proposed development can be “accommodated by the surrounding roadway system at the study intersections, except for the small impact to the intersection of River Road and Long Hill Avenue.” 

The report includes information on traffic crash statistics from the Connecticut Crash Data Repository covering the three‐year period of Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 6, 2022. 

The crash data shows there were a total of seven crashes reported at the intersection of River Road at Murphys Lane and a total of 10 crashes at the intersection of River Road at Long Hill Avenue. One crash was reported along the proposed development frontage on River Road between Murphys Lane and Magnolia Circle, and 30 crashes were reported on River Road between Magnolia Circle and Long Hill Avenue. 

According to the report, nearly 60 percent of the crashes resulted in property damage only. The most common collision type was angle collisions, comprising approximately 46 percent of reported crashes, followed by rear‐end collisions at approximately 29 percent. 

“Based on traffic crash statistics obtained, there were no abnormal crash frequencies and crash patterns found at the study intersections or adjacent roadways,” the report states. 

The report further states that the proposed development can be built with no “perceptible impact to traffic operations and no safety concerns will be created or exacerbated.” 

At the intersection of River Road and Long Hill Avenue, the report states a traffic signal is warranted. 

“It recommended to collect eight hours of intersection peak‐hour turning movement counts and conduct a full signal warrant analysis at the intersection of River Road and Long Hill Avenue,” the report states. “If warranted, the city should pursue the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection with CTDOT.” 

Autoswage was an industrial site and, according to the application, is in an environmentally contaminated parcel that has been the subject of litigation with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Thomas said that litigation has been resolved with the developer’s purchase of the parcel.  

The project approved in 2019 had six buildings — three apartment structures, a restaurant, a clubhouse and a small maintenance building. The complex would have 385 parking spaces, including 72 under the apartments, and three driveways.  

According to the resolution for the 2019 PDD approval, the project was also approved for sewer service through Stratford as part of an intermunicipal agreement.  

In 2007, the P&Z approved a condominium, restaurant, marina, and pool club on the property, but it was never built. That project received permission to connect to the Stratford sewer system. In 2016, a plan with 164 apartments — later downsized slightly — was rejected by the P&Z.  

The newest plan doesn’t include a swimming club but would have a membership-based boating and rowing club. The applicant has tried to increase public access, with more than half the parking open to the public for the restaurant and perimeter walkway. The public could pay a fee to put rowing vessels in the water.