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Sandy Hook Center- Developer Makes Fourth Attempt For Condo Complex  



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Sandy Hook Center—

Developer Makes Fourth Attempt For Condo Complex  

By Andrew Gorosko

A Danbury developer’s fourth attempt to build a controversial mixed-income condominium complex in Sandy Hook Center will be the subject of a public hearing slated for Thursday, December 7.

The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) will convene the session on Dauti Construction, LLC’s, proposal for the 26-unit Edona Commons at 7:30 pm at the town offices at 31 Peck’s Lane.

Because the P&Z had rejected a similar 23-unit condo proposal for the 95-99 Church Hill Road site from Dauti Construction last August, some P&Z members had questioned whether the agency should hold hearings on the current project. 

But based on legal advice, the P&Z will formally review the condo construction proposal, which has consistently drawn strong opposition from nearby property owners since it was initially proposed in March 2003. Project opponents have pledged to oppose the current Edona Commons application.

Opponents charge that such development is inappropriate for the area, stressing that the traffic that it would generate would worsen existing traffic problems in the area. Other complaints have focused on school bus safety, access to the site, the historic character of the neighborhood, the removal of trees, and aesthetics. The current construction proposal would require the removal of 12,840 cubic yards of earthen materials.

On August 3, the P&Z rejected Dauti Construction’s proposal for a 23-unit condo complex on a then-4.04-acre site, citing a host of reasons, including potential traffic problems and a high construction density.

In an initial 2003 attempt to develop the site, developer Guri Dauti sought to build 16 units. In a second failed attempt early in 2004, he sought to build 12 units.

Following the August rejection of his third condo proposal, the developer sued the P&Z in Danbury Superior Court in seeking to have a judge force the P&Z to approve Edona Commons.

The current condo complex application seeks three P&Z approvals — the creation of a new zone known as the Mixed Income Housing District (MIHD) zone; a change of zone for the 4.5-acre site from R-2 Residential to MIHD zoning; and also a site development plan endorsement.

The developer proposes constructing the 26 townhouse-style units in six buildings on the steep, rugged site. The property lies north of Church Hill Road and west of Dayton Street. The Edona Commons site abuts the site of the 189-unit age-restricted Walnut Tree Village condo complex.

P&Z Chairman William O’Neil said November 29 that the P&Z will review the current Edona Commons application much like it reviewed the recently rejected application. “We’ll go through the hearing much like we did before…We’re going to go through the process all over again,” he said.

One notable legal difference in the current application versus the previous application is that the developer is now applying for the project under the terms of the state’s Affordable Housing Appeals Act, Mr O’Neil said.

When such an application is subject to state law on affordable housing, it effectively limits the reasons for which a land use agency can reject such an application, Mr O’Neil said. Thus, it would reduce the P&Z’s discretion or latitude in rejecting such a project, he said.

If the Edona Commons project were to be rejected by the P&Z again, and if the developer were to appeal such a rejection in court, the matter would be adjudicated under the provisions of the Affordable Housing Appeals Act, which gives applicants legal leverage in getting projects approved.

The developer proposes setting aside eight of the 26 units as price-restricted dwellings for low-income and for moderate-income families. In such high-density complexes, the lower prices of affordable housing units are subsidized by the higher prices of market-rate units.

To make space for a 26-unit condo complex, an existing multifamily dwelling would be demolished at 99 Church Hill Road. A public water supply would serve the site. The developer proposes that municipal sanitary sewers provide waste disposal for the complex.

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