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FHA: Center Design 'Does Not Comply'



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The proposed community/senior center design "does not comply" with design guidelines pertaining to Fairfield Hills, according to a recent Fairfield Hills Authority motion made during a meeting Monday, June 26. The center's proposed design does not comply "as evidenced" by excerpts from the Fairfield Hills Master Plan, Master Plan Amendment, and Fairfield Hills Adaptive Reuse regulations. Members were looking at renderings dated from a June 20 Board of Selectman meeting. Members are drafting a cover letter to send to the Community Center Advisory Committee, Board of Selectmen, and the Planning and Zoning Commission, and including Monday's meeting minutes and motions.

The motion passed unanimously after discussion following Chairman Ross Carley asked: "Whether we like it or don't, we understand that the current design is open to interpretation and we have to decide if we feel we can endorse the latest design. So, what do we feel about this design?"

Regarding the front of the one-story building, Phil Clark said, "It might be where we hold firm to conform with the rest of the campus," next mentioning pillars and smaller windows.

"It's important to maintain looks keeping in flavor with the rest of buildings," Mr Carley said.

He hopes to keep the design "more classic in the front," which is where the design "gets away from" the campus's classic design. Other tenants such as the Newtown Ambulance Association with its new building on Wasserman Way and the NYA Sports & Fitness Center, even kiosks, have conformed, members noted.

He was concerned that "this will upset the apple cart" for other who had to conform, Mr Carley said.

Before discussion began, Economic and Community Development & Fairfield Hills Coordinator Kimberly Chiappetta read from several documents regarding design. From the Master Plan 2005 she read a statement for new buildings, recommending: "A style of architecture and materials compatible with the balance of the campus."

From a Master Plan Amendment, she read from a section regarding how the plan meets community objectives, which states, "Maintain the architectural and site design characteristics of a campus … the architecture of any new buildings would have to be compatible with the traditional buildings on the campus …"

And from a third document stating Land Use Zoning Regulations Article Vi - Special Districts, she read from Section 3 about the Fairfield Hills Adaptive Reuse, which says, "The reuse of the property should be planned, new structures should blend in with existing historic structures, and the environmental integrity of the site should be maintained."

Terry Sagedy said the language "is loose and it's a matter of opinion," and does not say that a structure "must look exactly like," other buildings, but must be "compatible."

Referring to the most recent architectural designs dates June 20, Mr Sagedy said, "I don't know that it would take that much more to make it compatible."

"I agree," said Mr Carley. He then questioned, "Do we owe anything to [new tenants] already here the respect that we made them adhere?"

Roger Cyr has been reviewing the Master Plan and said, "Any new building would have to be compatible - those are the wishes of people who made the Master Plan."

Mr Clark wondered if it would be hard to convince architects of a traditional design.

"Hard to convince the architect? Aren't we paying him?" asked Mr Cyr.

"I think we could push in that direction," Mr Sagedy said.

"I really want them to move in this direction," said Mr Carley, who "does not want to support" the current design. "This isn't personal, it doesn't meet the Master Plan, Land Use, or zoning," he said.

"I feel we have a responsibility to push the issue," Mr Clark said.

Mr Carley wanted to recommend that community center designers "try to comply with regulations."

"Not try, comply. Everybody else has to," said Mr Clark.

Parking Issues

"Not enough parking," was Mr Clark's comment regarding the plans. Plans show 150 spaces around the proposed building. After discussion, members unanimously passed a second motion on June 26: "The Fairfield Hills Authority requests that the number of spaces be re-evaluated, considering shared parking for the Municipal Center, community center, sports and other events - especially in regard to the timing of each activity. Consideration of previous and alternative parking surfaces could be reviewed."

Mr Cyr also felt the parking was inadequate.

Mr Carley also said the authority has asked architects to attend Fairfield Hills Authority meetings, but they have not come. And despite the "rush to get shovels in the ground," he said the "rules and regulations have to be followed."

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