Major PDD application withdrawn

The application for the large Wells Hollow retail and residential development has been withdrawn.
Dominick Thomas, attorney for the applicant, told the Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission at the April 26 meeting that the Wells family, who own the 17.17-acre property, would like to meet with P&Z staff and perhaps a commission subcommittee "to discuss what would be appropriate at this site. The family would like to sell it."

An undisclosed developer had proposed building retail stores, a 112-room hotel, restaurants and 126 apartments at the site on Bridgeport Avenue and Long Hill Cross Road. The application was formally withdrawn in a March 31 letter from Thomas to the commission.

During the March 22 P&Z meeting, a majority of commissioners had indicated they were likely to oppose the application due to the apartments, an automotive/service tire center, and the overall density being too intense. The applicant was seeking to create a Planned Development District (PDD) for the project.

Gaida subdivision
Also at the April 26 meeting, the public hearing continued on the application by Jack and Josephine Gaida to construct six single-family homes at 405 Long Hill Ave., next to the Route 8 highway and across from Sylvan Drive.

Thomas, the attorney for this applicant as well, submitted a soil scientist report and traffic study on the project, called Brookview Heights. The amount and location of fill put on the site -- as well as how recently such activities took place -- has been an issue.

This is the fifth attempt by the Gaidas to develop the 3.96-acre property, which is partly in both a light industrial zone and a one-acre single-family home zone. They are seeking to create a PDD for the residential project, which would have a homeowners' association.

According to the applicant's soil scientist, Scott Stevens, the three test pits dug up to 13 feet deep on April 25 showed "no recent filling appears to have encroached within the wetlands or watercourses on-site."
Opponents questioned if the test pits were deep enough to test old fill, saying there could be problems with sink holes due to future settlement. They asked why someone who used fill, allegedly without proper permits, would be rewarded by getting a dense housing development approved on their property.

They insisted that based on current zoning regulations, the developer should only be allowed to have two houses on the property because it is a rear lot, with limited frontage.
"It's inconsistent with the current neighborhood," said Long Hill Avenue resident Regis Dognin. "We don't have any PDDs."

The Tighe & Bond traffic study indicated the added traffic volume "will be reasonable and acceptable, and that there will be no impact to the roadway system from the development." The study from a previous 14-unit condominium proposed at the site was used for the analysis.

Opponents said Long Hill Avenue already is congested with vehicles, especially during the morning and evening commutes. "All day long I see traffic that is backed up," said Long Hill Avenue resident Stephanie Kampler.

The ability of trucks to conduct snow plowing on the development's driveway was discussed at length. The homes will all be accessed by a 24-foot-wide private road, with the property only having 30 feet of frontage where the road meets Long Hill Avenue. The private road -- or common driveway -- also would be on a slope.

In addition, questions were raised about the possibly existence of a vernal pool at the site, with Thomas insisting no vernal pool exists there -- and it's an inland wetlands issue, not a zoning matter, even it one did, he said.

Also at the April 26 meeting, a draft of the new Plan of Conservation and Development was presented and comments accepted during a public hearing. P&Z Administrator Rick Schultz made a presentation on the POCD, which is the city's master plan, and almost a dozen residents made remarks about its contents.