Zoning Permit Sought For Church Hill Road Retail/Office Complex

Newtown Savings Bank has submitted a zoning application to the Borough Zoning Commission (BZC) for its proposed Church Hill Road retail/office redevelopment project known as The Villages at Lexington Gardens.

The zoning application, which was filed on August 7, provides more developmental detail about the construction proposal than was available in a recent application for a wetlands/watercourses protection permit that the bank submitted to the Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC).

The bank, which owns 30 and 32 Church Hill Road, wants to redevelop those two properties on the south side of Church Hill Road, across Church Hill Road from The Boulevard. The two lots comprise about 6.3 acres on the deep site.

The project would improve the exterior aesthetics of an existing 16,000-square-foot red-brick commercial building at 30 Church Hill Road.

Also, the project would add 60,500 square feet of new retail/office space in several two-story buildings at 32 Church Hill Road. The development would provide equal amounts of retail space and office space on the first and second stories of those buildings, respectively.

The structures that formerly served as the Lexington Gardens garden shop/nursery complex at 32 Church Hill Road would be demolished to make way for the new construction.

The plans indicate that near the street at 32 Church Hill Road, a two-story, 6,500-square-foot building designated for ground-level use as a bank would be constructed. It is unclear if Newtown Savings Bank would occupy the 3,250-square-foot first story of that building at some point in the future. The 3,250-square-foot second story would contain general office space.

The project would be served a public water supply and public sanitary sewers. The project would increase nearby property values, the application states.

According to the zoning application, there are 44 properties within 1,000 feet of 30 Church Hill Road, and 61 properties within 1,000 feet of 32 Church Hill Road. Those property owners would be formally notified by mail of the planned September 19 BZC public hearing on the redevelopment proposal.

The IWC has scheduled a public hearing on the wetlands/watercourses protection aspects of the project for August 22.


Traffic Study

Frederick P. Clark Associates, Inc, of Fairfield prepared a traffic and vehicular access study on the redevelopment project for the applicant.

According to that report, an existing driveway on the west side of 30 Church Hill Road would be retained, but would be used only for right turns by vehicles entering and exiting the site.

Also, existing driveways on the east side of 30 Church Hill Road and at 32 Church Hill Road would be consolidated into a new single driveway for the 30-32 Church Hill Road site. That driveway would be positioned to create a four-way intersection for Church Hill Road, The Boulevard, and the consolidated driveway.

The four-way intersection would be controlled by a four-way traffic signal.

“Access and traffic control improvements are necessary along Church Hill Road along the site frontage and will include The Boulevard intersection,” according to the report. The intersection’s reorganization would include “left-turn pockets” on Church Hill Road to manage traffic flow there, it adds. Such turn pockets provide the vehicles that are turning left at an intersection with their own travel lanes.

Also, the timing for a traffic signal at the four-way intersection would be coordinated with the traffic signal at the intersection of Church Hill Road and Queen Street to the west.

The traffic study considers the traffic volumes that would be created by other proposed developments that would be located along Church Hill Road in the coming years, the report states.

The traffic study includes consideration of traffic flow on the section of Church Hill Road lying between its intersection with Queen Street to the west and its intersections with Commerce Road and Edmond Road to the east.

Also, the report considers the state’s long-term plans to create a conventional four-way intersection of Church Hill Road, Commerce Road, and Edmond Road by shifting the southern end of Edmond Road to the west. 

The Lexington Gardens project would be internally linked by a two-way driveway to the adjacent shopping center at 5 Church Hill Road known as The Shops at Newtown, which holds Caraluzzi’s Newtown Food Market. Such internal driveway links are intended to reduce traffic flow on streets.

Generally, the traffic study found that by taking several traffic control measures in the Church Hill Road corridor, overall traffic flow along that street could be improved to accommodate the proposed redevelopment project and the anticipated additional development along that street.

Attorney Peter Scalzo, representing Newtown Savings Bank, has said that the bank is in negotiations with an unnamed firm which would acquire the 30-32 Church Hill Road site and the development rights to it, if the bank gains the required land use approvals.

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