Brookview Apartments approved by P&Z

The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the initial development concept plan for the would-be Brookview Apartments. The application calls for a 37-unit apartment building to be built on 309 Bridgeport Avenue near Sunwood condominiums. However the P&Z requested a modification to 24 units at the previous meeting.

The P&Z debated the modification and whether to allow the developer more units for the project. It also discussed other uses for the site. The site in a restricted business development zone, RBZ, said land use consultant Anthony Panico.

Panico said the zone was created when the Route 8 corridor study was completed. The zone may have business offices, banks and financial institutions, wholesale laundry and cleaning plants, sit-down restaurants, and a variety of motor vehicle uses, including a gas station, used car lot, repair garage, and new car sales.

It is also zoned for a lumberyard, research laboratory, manufacturing or assembling facility, small printing and publishing establishment, or painting and woodwork shops.

Mayor Mark Lauretti said most of the ideas are not practical for the site.

Panico said he is only looking at potential ideas for the developing proposal. He said the property is 3.28 acres, with 50% of the site good for development.

P&Z Chairman Ruth Parkins responded to Panico’s list.

“I think the point is that something less desirable than people living there can technically go there, if apartments don’t,” Parkins said.

Panico said the developer suggested an alternative design of a smaller building with 28 units. He said the developer, Jim Blakeman of Blakeman Construction Co., indicated that if the project were reduced to 24 units, it would become marginal for the developer. The developer would then examine other potential uses for the property.

“If he decided to withdraw and pursue an alternative development under existing zoning, these are the kinds of things that can occur,” Panico said.

He called the modification from 37 to 24 units “draconian” and said at a 35% cut, it enters into the economics of the development project.

Panico commented on the rights of property owners in regard to zoning regulations.

“Anybody has a right to look at what zoning will allow them to do, whether to do it or sell it for that purpose,” Panico said.

Commissioner Jimmy Tickey said he is not in support of the project of 500-square-foot apartments. He does not feel it fits the site.

Parkins said if the developer came in with different project that fit within zoning, there would not be a hearing with neighbors providing feedback about the project. However, Tickey still would not support the apartments, saying he was not in support of the project, the units, where it is located, what it looks like, and the quality as presented.

Lauretti said the zoning uses have been in place for a while, and it is just not practical that someone would utilize most of the zoning uses in that location. He said the location is too small, it is secluded, and the uses listed by Panico require high visibility.

Commissioner Elaine Motto said she was concerned with the aesthetics and making the project more attractive to avoid looking at all pavement. Panico told her the aesthetics could always be dealt with, but the P&Z has to be satisfied with the usage of the property.

After further discussion regarding a concern of local residents, including placement of Dumpsters, the P&Z took a vote on the 28 units. Harger and Tickey didn’t approve, but the rest of the commission voted to approve 28 units.