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Sewer Connection Sought For 29-Unit Condo Complex

Published: May 21, 2019 at 07:00 am

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A development firm is seeking Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) approval to connect a planned 29-unit condominium complex on Mt Pleasant Road to the central municipal sanitary sewer system.

Michael Zemola, a senior land development manager for Toll Brothers, attended a May 9 WSA meeting seeking approval for sewers for an approved, but as yet unbuilt, multifamily complex known as Rochambeau Woods at 41, 43, 45, and 47 Mt Pleasant Road, near Taunton Lake. The project would consist of 29 single-family detached houses.

Toll Brothers has a contract to purchase the 29-acre property and the development rights for the controversial Rochambeau Woods from development firm Hunter Ridge LLC, which late last year won a lengthy court battle to build the project.

WSA members on May 9 approved a motion to have their real estate appraisal consultant prepare a “sewer benefit assessment” to determine how much property value having sanitary sewer service would add to the planned condo units.

Fred Hurley, town public works director, said he expects that having sewer access would add somewhere between $10,000 and $14,000 of value to each condo unit. The appraisal firm would provide an exact figure.

The WSA uses a sewer benefit assessment in setting the amount that each condo owner must cover in terms of the capital costs for a sewer connection. Sewer user fees are a separate charge based on gallonage.

WSA members agreed to conduct a public hearing on June 13 on Toll Brothers’ requested sewer connections for the planned condos and on the sewer benefit assessments for that property.

Last December, a Connecticut Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Borough Zoning Commission’s (BZC) February 2017 approval of Rochambeau Woods.

Judge Ronald Kowalski ruled that there is substantial evidence that supports the BZC’s approval of developer Hunter Ridge LLC’s application to the BZC for a special zoning permit and site development plan for the project. The BZC’s action in approving the complex conforms to and is consistent with the Borough of Newtown’s zoning regulations, according to the judge.

Local developer David French is doing business as Hunter Ridge LLC in connection with the Rochambeau Woods condo project. The plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging Rochambeau Woods was Dr Robert Grossman.

Dr Grossman owns property abutting the development site. In 2003, Dr Grossman sold the land where the complex would be built to Mr French. Through the lawsuit, Dr Grossman sought to have the BZC’s construction approval nullified. Hunter Ridge LLC was a codefendant in the legal action.

The proposed 29 condos would be constructed on the section of the site near Mt Pleasant Road. The site extends downgradient to Taunton Lake, where it has about 450 feet of lake frontage.

Almost 70 percent of the site would remain as undeveloped open space land under the terms of the BZC’s Residential Open Space Development (ROSD) zoning regulations. That open space, which would be protected by an easement, would be available for use by the condo complex’s residents and their guests but not the general public. The condo complex would not have age restrictions for its residents.

At BZC public hearings that proceeded the February 2017 zoning approval, the development plans drew criticism from nearby property owners, who charged that the complex’s presence would create various problems in the neighborhood, involving traffic, noise, decreased property values, and the prospect of raucous teenage parties occurring near Taunton Lake.

At those two hearings, Dr Grossman strongly criticized the proposal. His concerns included the prospect of teenage residents of the complex and their friends having parties near the lake involving loud music and beer drinking. Also, the presence of the condo complex would result in traffic problems in the area, he then charged. Additionally, the complex would be out of architectural character with the area, which contains single-family houses, he then added.

Rochambeau Woods is the largest residential project approved in the borough in decades.

The site has a long history as a location proposed for residential development. In 2002, the property was proposed as the site for a 15-lot subdivision of single-family houses. However, a decade-long court case, which challenged the proposed subdivision on environmental grounds, eventually was resolved by the Connecticut Supreme Court. That court decision set the stage for the condo complex application, which the BZC then approved in February 2017.

 

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