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WSA Approves Sewer Connection For Planned Condo Complex

Published: June 21, 2019 at 08:00 am

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Following a June 13 public hearing and discussion by Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) members, the WSA unanimously approved extending municipal sanitary sewer service to a 29-unit condominium complex long-planned for a 29-acre site at 41, 43, 45, and 47 Mt Pleasant Road.

Voting in favor of a sewer system extension were WSA members Louis Carbone, Richard Zang, Eugene Vetrano, and Carl Zencey. WSA members agreed to have Public Works Director Fred Hurley prepare a formal sewer extension agreement for the complex.

The WSA members also approved setting the “sewer benefit assessment” for sewer connections at the planned condo complex at $12,500 per condo unit. Thus, the aggregate assessment is $362,500.

Kerin & Fazio LLC of Fairfield, a real estate appraisal consulting firm, set the assessment for the WSA.

Such assessments represent the real estate value that is added to a property by its connection to sanitary sewers. The assessments are separate from sewer user fees, which are based of gallonage.

In a June 13 memo to the WSA, Mr Hurley recommended that the 29-acre site receive a sewer system extension. “We have available (sewage treatment) capacity to service this project. For environmental purposes, it would be better to include this development in the sewer system because of its close proximity to Taunton Lake. There has [been] identification of previous clean water impairment to the lake by adjacent properties, which subsequently were connected to the sewer system,” Mr Hurley wrote.

The WSA issued the sewer connection approval to Toll Brothers Inc. Toll Brothers holds a purchase option to buy the land and the rights to develop it from current owner Hunter Ridge LLC.

In December 2018, Hunter Ridge LLC won a lengthy court battle to build a controversial project, known as Rochambeau Woods, at the site. A Connecticut Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit that had challenged the Borough Zoning Commission’s (BZC) February 2017 approval of Rochambeau Woods. The complex is the largest residential project approved in the borough in decades.

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 was 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.

The 29 individual buildings would range in size from approximately 1,500 to 3,000 square feet in floor area. The two-story units would have two or three bedrooms, depending upon their style.

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 living at 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 and the complex would be out of architectural character with the area, he had charged.

The site has a long history as a location proposed for residential development. In 2002, the property was proposed as the site for a 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 approved in February 2017.

Toll Brothers has built several housing developments in Newtown, including subdivisions of single-family houses and high-density condo complexes.

 

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