Apartment Expansion, Veterinary Parking Slated For P&Z Public Hearings
For its July 18 meeting, the Planning & Zoning Commission has scheduled public hearings on two commercial development projects now underway in different parts of town.
Covered Bridge Newtown LLC, which is constructing Covered Bridge Apartments at 9 Covered Bridge Road in Hawleyville, is seeking to modify its special zoning permit to increase the eventual size of its rental apartment complex.
Also, Prithvi Real Estate Management is seeking to change the zoning regulations that apply to a veterinary medicine complex that it is constructing at 94 South Main Street, in order to reduce the minimum depth of parking spaces there.
The two public hearings are scheduled for the P&Z meeting that is slated to start at 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 18, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.
Covered Bridge Newtown LLC wants to increase the number of apartment buildings that it would construct from six to seven, thus increasing the number of apartments there from 180 to 210. The site is located near the Exit 9 interchange of Interstate 84.
The developer gained P&Z approval in December 2015 to construct six apartment buildings. One building has been completed and has tenants. Also, a clubhouse/rental office and an in-ground swimming pool have been constructed.
The complex gained P&Z approval under the terms of the Incentive Housing-10 (IH-10) zoning regulations. Those zoning rules provide developers with two incentives — a much higher construction density than would normally be allowed, plus a commercial component for the project, provided that the developer designates 20 percent of the dwellings as “affordable housing,” under the terms of applicable state law.
Thus, in a 180-unit complex, 36 units would be designated as affordable housing, while in a 210-unit complex, there would be 42 affordable units.
Affordable housing units are rented out to people meeting income eligibility requirements at lower prices than the “market rate” units in a complex. The higher construction densities, in effect, allow the rents paid for market rate units to subsidize the rents paid for affordable units. Newtown, like many other communities, is under a state mandate to increase its stock of affordable housing.
Steve Maguire, the town’s senior land use enforcement officer, said recently that a review of the proposed apartment complex expansion would not require environmental review by the Inland Wetlands Commission. The proposed site changes, in terms of wetlands/watercourses protection, have received approval from town land use agency staff, Mr Maguire said.
In its application to the P&Z, the developer includes comments from its traffic engineer stating that increasing the number of apartments from 180 to 210 would have little, if any, adverse traffic effects in the area.
Residents of Hillcrest Drive, which is adjacent to the apartment site, have viewed the matter differently. During past P&Z reviews of the apartment project, those residents have charged that the presence of an apartment complex, plus a recently constructed adjacent church and a planned adjacent retail use would overburden area roads with new traffic, aggravating existing traffic congestion during the morning and evening rush periods.
In another P&Z public hearing slated for July 18, Prithvi Real Estate Management is seeking a zoning regulation change for Special Design District-5 (SDD-5) in the South Main Village Design District (SMVDD) overlay zone, which would reduce the minimum required depth for a parking space in a parking lot from 20 feet to 18 feet.
In application documents submitted to the P&Z, the developer states that having the shorter parking spaces is necessary in terms of suitably fitting a retaining wall and adjacent guardrails onto the property. The presence of that retaining wall is required in terms of providing motorists with sufficient sight line distances at a driveway that connects to South Main Street.
The Pleasant Paws Pet Center is under construction on a 2.06-acre site. The planned two-story veterinary complex would enclose roughly 17,000 square feet of floor space. The project gained its initial P&Z approval in June 2018.
The Pleasant Paws Pet Center project employed the South Main Village Design District (SMVDD) zoning process as a regulatory mechanism to gain approval. That process allows applicants to propose customized zoning regulations that are tailored to an individual property’s development or redevelopment. If the P&Z approves such a set of unique zoning rules, those rules then replace the underlying zoning regulations.
The P&Z created the SMVDD zoning regulations in 2007 to foster economic development that is in harmony with New England architecture along the four-mile-long South Main Corridor. Pleasant Paws is one of six projects that has gained SMVDD zoning approval.
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