P&Z expected to approve marina development

An apartment complex with a marina and possibly a restaurant along the Housatonic River is expected to receive zoning approval.

On June 13, the Planning and Zoning Commission indicated a consensus exists for supporting a scaled-down version of the proposal for the Beacon Point Marina site at 704-722 River Road.

"It will be an improvement over what's there," member Elaine Matto said.

The Great River Water Club developer will have to eliminate one of five residential buildings, reduce the number of living units from 164 to a maximum 140, and limit the size of units to two bedrooms or less. The marina will have 75 slips.

The developer won't be able to add to the height of the remaining buildings, but can make up for units being lost with one fewer building by converting planned three-bedroom units on top floors to smaller units.

Member Charles Kelly said water views from residences on the other side of River Road — such as those at Crescent Village or on Murphy’s Lane — should be minimally impacted due to topography.

The developer also is being encouraged to consider putting a restaurant on the property, which the commission supports as a way to provide more public access to the waterfront property. This might be accomplished by redesigning a planned clubhouse near the river so it includes a 175-seat restaurant.

The complex would have a walkway along the riverfront open to the public, with 10 public parking spaces set aside for visitors. No onsite boat storage on land would be allowed.

One enticement for the city is the developer would need to extend the Shelton sewer line nearly a mile south on Route 110 at the developer's expense. This would enable the city to put in its own extension line at the same time, getting the sewer system closer to the Pine Rock neighborhood and saving the city money.

The original proposal called for the complex to have its own onsite sewage treatment plant, an idea that faced opposition.

The developer must secure an agreement with the Shelton Water Pollution Control Authority on the sewer extension before the project can move forward.

During the public hearing, opponents raised concerns about blocked river views, increased traffic, and the project's density.

The proposal involves modifying a previously approved Planned Development District (PDD) on the 8.6-acre site, with the earlier 31-unit condo project having never been built. The applicants are Ricar LLC and Mianus Holding LLC.

P&Z staff will now finalize an approval resolution and a formal vote should take place at the July 11 meeting.

Gaida subdivision

Also at the meeting, the P&Z indicated it would only support allowing three single-family homes on the Gaida property at 405 Long Hill Ave.

A proposal for a six-home subdivision on the 3.96-acre property has generated strong neighborhood opposition, as have past proposals for denser developments, including an 18-unit condominium complex.

Members said the six-house proposal was too intense for the property and wouldn't match the larger lot sizes of nearby homes. They expressed concern about large amounts of fill used through the years on the site, which borders the Route 8 highway. The parcel also has wetlands.

"I'd like to see less than six single-family homes," member James Tickey said. Chairman Ruth Parkins said he was "a little surprised" the developer applied for such a dense project after the condo project had been rejected.

Members discussed whether to allow from two to four homes on the site, concluding that three would be the most appropriate number.

The developer wants to use a PDD to create a private community, with a shared driveway entrance leading to small individual lots. The parcel connects to Long Hill Avenue, near Sylvan Drive, through a narrow strip.

Member Charles Kelly worried owners of similar-type properties — large rear parcels with limited road frontage — might seek approval for similar projects.

During the consensus discussion, P&Z members said they would support a PDD with three homes maximum on the property and a requirement uncertainties with the fill be resolved.

Joe Bienkowski, who lives next to the site, was not happy with the P&Z. "It's a direct reward for a fill violation that hasn't been rectified for several decades," he said.

P&Z Administrator Rick Schultz said the P&Z and Inland Wetlands Commission must work together to make sure the site is buildable through adequate bore testing of the fill. "The neighborhood and the commission want this to be addressed," Schultz said.

Member Anthony Pagoda said he doesn't want to see a situation similar to that on Independence Drive, where two housing lots were approved but contain rubber debris used as fill in the past, bringing into question whether they will ever be developed. "They didn't do their proper testing," Pagoda said.