P&Z has 65 days to make Shelter Ridge decision

After months of meetings, protest, and public hearings, the Planning and Zoning Commission has been granted 65 days to make a decision on the Shelter Ridge application following its Sept. 21 meeting in City Hall.

Prior to the meeting, members of the opposition to the application called Save Our Shelton (SOS) marched outside City Hall. They carried signs opposing the project proposed for the 121 acre piece of land located on Bridgeport Avenue.

Greg Tetro of SOS told members that they should not fall for “the traps of the developers”. According to Tetro, the developers and engineers will tell the commission and residents positive things about the project and traffic but its negative effects will be revealed once construction begins and also once the project is completed.

During the meeting, David Sullivan, engineer for Milone & Macbroom, reviewed the developer's responses to comments in a traffic peer review. Sullivan said the developer's traffic study was very large with a couple a dozen intersections, which were analyzed. He said the company reviewed over 1,000 pages of analysis work sheets, twice.

Sullivan discussed the responses and revisions the applicant made to the traffic peer report. The report was made available to the public during the hearing and it provided traffic information the under study review, the analysis review, mitigation review, and site plan review. Sullivan showed roads and proposed widening of portions of Bridgeport Ave.

After the presentation, Sullivan was questioned by commission members. The public also had an opportunity to make final comments; however, P&Z Commissioner Ruth Parkins told residents to limit comments to the traffic report only.

Tetro had several concerns with the applicant's traffic report. He noted the effect the changes in   transportation would have on traffic, especially during holidays. He used the Trumbull Mall as an example to demonstrate potential traffic issues.

“You can take all the studies you want, but you can look outside the Trumbull Mall and see how it moves,” Tetro said.

Shelton resident Ron Pavlucik said he was on Main Street near the Trumbull Mall recently. He noted there are 150 business at the Mall, two multi-story parking garages, and mentioned the Merritt Parkway is nearby. He agreed there is a lot of traffic on Main Street in Trumbull as a result of the mall, with a hospital and Sacred Heart University expanding nearby, but is still in favor of the development.

“Somehow a similar size or larger project than this one has found a way to deal with these issues of a lot of traffic, of different lanes, of turn-offs,” Pavlucik said. “This is not rocket science. If it can be done in Trumbull so efficiently, year-after-year, even through the holidays, it can certainly be done in here in Shelton.”

Shelton resident John Badina said he is not against development but has concerns to how the current roads will be able to handle an increase in traffic. Badina said he is opposed to the project if the roads are not adjusted ahead of time.

He suggested the city take a look at Buddington Road because drivers use it as an alternative route when Bridgeport Avenue is congested. He said the road was discussed at prior meetings and it was decided the road would  be widened by 25 feet, but now it's not in the plans. He wanted to know what happened to the decision to widen the road.

Buddington Road was also discussed by resident Nick Ruggiero who lives on the road. He said his car was totaled on the road by an oncoming car. He is concerned with drivers speeding during rush hour and that they can access Buddington Road because it accesses Bridgeport Road.

Badina noted that the application calls for the road to be closed except for emergencies. He said if someone needs emergency service, first responders would not be able to get through the road quickly. He said he doesn't trust the plans because he thinks over time the road will not be blocked and that drivers will continue to use the road.

Shelton resident Tom Harbinson said he is not in favor of the application as presented, but he is not opposed to development on the site. He said with regards to traffic, the city has to do thorough planning and preparation for 20 years from now.

“You have a juncture with a very large piece of property, having significant investment potential,” Harbinson said. “ You have to have that statement start off on the right foot.”

Site Attorney Dominick Thomas, responded to comments and concerns made by Shelton residents. He explained why Buddington Road will not be change in size. He said residents living on the road do not want it widened.

Thomas also commented about the development of the site for commercial use, which has been opposed by SOS. He said the residents pushing to keep the site the way it is shows a lack of understanding of zoning because the site is not zoned for open space. However, he did note that the application calls for 24 acres of open space for the 121 acre site.

Thomas’ closing remarks was that he believed the project will be a tremendous benefit to Shelton. He said the project will increase parking, increase open space, be an improvement to the city, and is a step to make Bridgeport Ave. a safer place.

After the hearing was closed, despite the proposed changes made in the traffic report by the applicant, SOS members were not convinced and continued their protest outside of City Hall.

“If the Commission chooses to vote for this project; it will be the Stamfordization of Shelton,” said Joseph Pienkowski.

The commission will begin deliberations at its Oct. 11 meeting.