Opposition to Shelter Ridge stands strong
More than 200 residents packed into the Shelton Intermediate School auditorium to oppose the Towne Center at Shelter Ridge application and developer’s desired zone change from a light industrial to a planned development district.
The opposition said they’re prepared to take the developers to court as they have hired attorney Keith Ainsworth, who spoke at the meeting, as well as an engineer who wasn’t named.
Residents opposed to the application say they will not stop until the developer’s lose in court or consider their concerns.
More than 30 people had the chance to voice their opposition to the application. 60 or so residents remain on the list to speak at the next public hearing on June 28.
Residents emphasized the already bad traffic situation right along Bridgeport Avenue, the damages the development would have on the city’s greenways, trails and scenic roads, as well as suggestions made that developers look into other areas for a more well-suited place for the development.
The mixed-use development would include over 300,000-square-feet of retail space, a medical office building, an assisted living facility, and what residents are referring to as a “monstrosity” of a 450-unit, nine-story apartment building that would infringe on or look over city-owned green space.
Along with the residents who voiced their concerns, the P&Z Commission opened up the meeting by sharing some concerns of their own.
Commission Alternate Frank Ozak stated that one of the biggest issues he had was the developer’s portraying the tax benefits of the development to be substantially larger than it is.
Commissioner Jimmy Tickey also expressed his worries of the development negatively impacting the Far Mill River and the wildlife that inhabit the area as well as an excessive amount of parking space. He urged the developers to provide more documents defending their proposal.
Chairman of Shelton’s Conservation Commission Tom Harbinson shared a PowerPoint presentation that highlighted the negative impacts the development could have on wildlife and other attractive natural resources that people from other states come to experience.
Harbinson was one of several residents who made suggestions for the developer to reconsider the structure of their proposal. He said the possibility of moving the apartment building towards Bridgeport Avenue would help to protect the ridge and also preserve the natural beauty of the city’s green space because it would no longer tower over current residents’ homes as is currently proposed.
Attorney Ainsworth said he believes the commission will be sensible in their final say on the application and they should strive to maintain a balance rather than approving developments for shear tax benefits.
“You’re trading your birthright for taxes, and you’ve got to be really careful about that,” Ainsworth said at the beginning of the meeting’s public portion. “Balance is what this should be about, and balance is what you should demand in this PDD. You need to deny the PDD and make them go back. They can do an awful lot better than this.”
Shelton resident Ron Pavluvcik was once again the lone supporter of the application to speak and challenged those opposing the application to think what they would do given they owned the city’s greenspace which they are looking to preserve.
Residents were not pleased to hear Pavluvcik speak.
He said his only issue with the development was the nine-story apartment building wasn’t big enough.
“Instead of nine stories, let’s make it 18,” said Pavluvcik.
He compared the Shelter Ridge proposal to the Split Rock development on Bridgeport Avenue with the purpose of showing residents the positive outcome of what was previously opposed. He also said he wanted residents to understand that developments like this are the reason they are able to brag about low taxes in the city.
The public portion will continue June 28 in Shelton Intermediate School’s auditorium at 7 p.m.