P&Z OKs Residential Component At Commercial Complexes

Following a June 5 public hearing, Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members approved revised zoning regulations which, in effect, would greatly increase the amount of residential apartment space that could be included as a second-story use in new commercial buildings that include uses such as stores and offices on the first story.

George Benson, town director of planning and land use, said the revised zoning regulations would affect new development in the B-1 and B-2 (Business) zones.

The revised zoning regulations take effect on June 16.

Pertinent zoning rules, which have been in effect for years, have allowed a developer to include one dwelling per one-half acre of land at a commercial site, based upon certain calculation rules.

The revised zoning rules state that the overall square footage area of the second-story dwellings in a commercial building shall not exceed 50 percent of the gross floor area of the building, excluding the basement.

Also, any such individual apartment located in a commercial building must be at least 800 square feet in area, but no larger than 1,200 square feet in area.

Mr Benson told P&Z members that lending institutions want there to be residential uses in such new commercial buildings to provide such projects with financial stability.

Summit @ Newtown, a project planned for 2.35-acre site at 146 South Main Street, is expected to take advantage of the revised zoning rules to include apartments on the upper level of its planned two-level building. (See related story.)

In February, the P&Z approved that project, which then had the working name Berkshire Plaza. At that time, the project was planned as a 18,750-square-foot retail/medical office building.

Since then, the developer has revised the plans and now is proposing apartments for the upper level of the planned building.

That modification of plans would be subject to a P&Z public hearing on revisions to the developer’s existing special permit for the project.

The P&Z had approved a smaller version of the commercial complex in 2006, but it was never built.

At the June 5 P&Z session, Mr Benson said that there apparently is not sufficient local need for new  office space to warrant the entire Summit @ Newtown building functioning as commercial space.

The concept of residential-above-commercial development is intended “to make it financially feasible to get [construction] loans and [to] build buildings,” he said.

“This makes sense … We are looking for more housing in town,” Mr Benson said.

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Commercial buildings and apartments

Mr.Bensons comment make no sense. if there is not the demand for commercial space why build it. Not a very good idea to change zoning just so they can build an office building.
Having said that there is now little reason to have apartments at Fairfiled Hills. The new zoning will increase housing units and presuman bring school children, so we dont have to push housing at FFH when the Master Plan review committee said they didnt think it was right for the campus or Newtown at this time.

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