Former Shelton mayor candidate leads opposition to apartment plan

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Plans for an apartment building on Mohawk Drive — right off River Road — have drawn the ire of many in the Pine Rock section of the city. 

Now David Eldridge, a retired Shelton police officer and former mayoral candidate, is taking the lead against the project, which is calling for a four-story, 40-unit apartment building on less than an acre of land near across Pine Rock Playground. The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on this application Feb. 15 at City Hall and via Zoom. 

"This proposal is not in the best interests of Pine Rock Park residents and the surrounding community,” Eldridge wrote in his online petition opposing the project

“We are a diverse community of single-family homes with a handful of duplexes,” added Eldridge, who lives in that section of the city. “This proposal is out of character with the existing land use of the area and will have a negative effect on our community and our property values.” 

Eldridge said he has been joined by the Pine Rock Park Association and individual residents in opposing the plan for the neighborhood, which he called "the most diverse and affordable" area in Shelton.

"Cramming 40 units in less than an acre would be too great a negative impact on the neighbors and this whole section of the city," he said.

Nearly 600 people have already signed the petition. He stated on his Facebook page that an informational meeting on this topic will be held Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at Pine Rock Park Fire House. 

The commission has established a temporary moratorium on any new multi-family residential rental housing units throughout the city, except in the Central Business District, which encompasses downtown. The moratorium took effect June 10, but this plan was submitted prior to it taking effect.   

Owners Agim Ismali and Shprza Ismali are seeking approval for a Planned Development District at 2 Mohawk Drive, which would allow for development of a four-story 12,000-square-foot structure with 40 apartments with an outdoor parking lot and indoor parking under the building. 

According to the application, the developers would designate 30 percent of the apartments, 12 units total, as affordable under state statute 8-30g.  

Attorney Dominick Thomas, who is representing the owners, said he was aware of the opposition to the project.

"While my clients are cognizant of all concerns of the neighbors, there is no evidence that such multifamily housing as is being proposed has a negative impact on property values,” Thomas said.

Thomas said his clients would be presenting a report at the public hearing to address any traffic issues.

Eldridge said the fight against this project should be of concern to everyone in Shelton.

“If this passes, it then can come to your neighborhood," he said. "If you have sewers, gas, water, electric going by your property or near you … this makes it very easy to use Affordable Housing Act 8-30g. You should be very concerned.” 

The plans call for only one- and two-bedroom apartments on the site, which is located at the corner of Mohawk Drive and River Road. The property is bounded by Mohawk Drive to the east, a developed, residential area to the west, commercial development to the south, and Algonkin Road to the north. The land sits behind Casa Nova Ristorante, located on River Road.

According to the application, the location has access to the major transportation arteries and is less than a mile from the Sikorsky Aircraft facility in Stratford.