P&Z discusses plan for former UI site

A mixed-use development at the former United Illuminating site on Bridgeport Avenue appears headed for zoning approval, but in a scaled-down version.

Planning and Zoning Commission members, discussing their views on the proposal at the Jan. 9 meeting, want to eliminate three of 11 buildings in the plan. The three structures are small and located throughout the 19.1-acre site, and members said eliminating them should allow for more green space and less parking.

They also want to put a strict limit of one drive-through restaurant, possibly extend sidewalks on Bridgeport Avenue and Parrott Drive, and add an electric vehicle charging station.

It’s unclear if the developer would still want to pursue the project, based on economic viability or other factors, with the possible changes to be made by the P&Z.

The commission discussed the proposal at length to try to reach an informal consensus so staff can draft a resolution to be voted on in February.

Members spoke in favor of allowing the proposed hotel, stand-alone pharmacy and office building. Most said they thought the project at 801 Bridgeport Avenue represented good economic development but could perhaps be cut back in size a bit.

Member Jimmy Tickey first suggested eliminating three buildings, and a few other members quickly backed the idea. Tickey said he wanted to cut down on traffic.

Members spent considerable time debating whether to allow any drive-through restaurants, with some objecting to the idea. Member Anthony Pogoda said he opposed allowing fast-food restaurants.

“You have to be reasonable,” Chairman Virginia Harger said of some of the suggestions being made.

“I don’t think we can micro-manage this plan,” member Elaine Matto said.

Fountain Square LLC has proposed demolishing the existing UI buildings and constructing 11 buildings for retail, restaurants, offices, and a 122-room hotel. There would be 667 parking spaces.

The property is zoned for light industrial, which allows for offices, restaurants and hotels but not retail uses or drive-through eateries. The developer wants to create a Planned Development District on the parcel.

A traffic light would be added on Bridgeport Avenue at Parrott Drive, with driveways to the complex on both Bridgeport Avenue and Parrott Drive.