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P&Z Approves Hattertown Residential Subdivision

Published: November 06, 2018 at 04:35 pm

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By Andrew Gorosko

Following discussion at a third public hearing on November 1, Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) members have unanimously approved construction of a residential subdivision of eight single-family houses on 27 acres at 57 Castle Meadow Road in Hattertown, known as Sunset Ridge.

Voting in favor of the project proposed by local developer Michael D’Amato, doing business as MD57 Castle Meadow LLC, were P&Z Chairman Don Mitchell, Jim Swift, Barbara Manville, Robert Mulholland, and Roy Meadows.

Initially, the developer had proposed a nine-lot subdivision on 29.2 acres, but P&Z members balked at the developer’s proposal to provide the town with a “fee in lieu of open space,” instead of providing the town with actual open space land at the site.

P&Z members had noted that the site’s location between a 120-acre land preserve owned by the Newtown Forest Association, known as Hattertown Pond Preserve, and a 7.5-acre town-owned open space parcel off Jet Brook Road made it an obvious place for designated open space land that would interconnect those two other open space areas.

Consequently, the developer reconfigured the project’s design, eliminating 2.2 acres from the proposed subdivision on land where a house and some outbuildings now stand. Coupled with that change was the developer’s designation of 4.6 acres of open space at the site. Such open space, which will be owned by the town, will be open to the public for “passive” forms of recreation, such as hiking and nature study.

Before the vote to approve the development, Mr Meadows thanked the applicant for clearly marking the area that would be open space to allow P&Z members to inspect that terrain. Local regulations require that at least 15 percent of a subdivision site be designated as open space.

Resident Craig Floch of Castle Meadow Road asked that certain trees at the site be left standing to serve as a visual buffer for adjacent property.

Mr Mulholland said the P&Z cannot tell builders which trees on a site must be left standing but added that the P&Z can make requests on such matters.

Mr Mitchell noted that the P&Z does not control the specific places on building lots where houses are built and the orientation of those houses. Such house siting decisions are made based on “field conditions” and are the result of discussions among the house builder, the town Building Department, and the town Health Department, Mr Mitchell said.

Dan Cologna of Castle Lane said he believes the developer is making a “good faith” effort to accommodate the concerns of nearby property owners in adjusting the subdivision plans.

Vote To Approve

In their vote to approve Sunset Ridge, P&Z members agreed that the development proposal conforms with the tenets of the 2014 Town Plan of Conservation and Development. Planning agencies, such as the P&Z, enact such plans decennially to provide land use regulators with guidelines for local growth and land conservation.

The P&Z is requiring that the developer provide a $202,500 performance bond covering road construction, the placement of building lot pins and monuments, and for installation of a 30,000-gallon underground tank to hold water for firefighting. If, for some reason, the developer does not perform such work, the town would have access to that bond to pay for such construction.

Among other technical conditions, the P&Z is requiring the developer to permanently field mark the planned open space area to show potential building lot buyers what areas on the site would be open to the public. The land is in a R-2 (Residential) zone, where the minimum lot size is two acres.

At an October meeting, Conservation Commission members endorsed the P&Z accepting the proposed 4.6-acre open space area at the subdivision site. That area will have two open space corridors extending from it to connect it to Hattertown Pond Preserve and also to the town open space land at 13 Jet Brook Road.

The property holds two wetlands. One wetland is near Castle Meadow Road, and the other is at the southern end of the site. The applicant received a wetlands/watercourses protection permit from the town land use agency in August. The houses to be built would be served by individual domestic water wells and individual septic systems.

The site lies generally southeast of Castle Meadow Road. It is bordered by the backyards of residential properties on Jet Brook Road to the southwest and the backyards of residential properties on Castle Lane to the northeast. The site would hold a water quality stormwater basin to regulate the flow of stormwater off the property after storms.

J. Edwards & Associates LLC of Easton is the surveyor and civil engineer for the project.

The Sunset Ridge proposal is the largest local residential subdivision project in terms of the number of building lots since the Turkey Ridge project, a subdivision on the northern corner of Toddy Hill Road and Turkey Roost Road, which gained P&Z approval in July 2017. Turkey Ridge has 11 lots on 28.5 acres.

 

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