273-unit Bic Drive apartments may go to public hearing in May

A proposal for a 273-unit housing complex is moving its way through city departments and is expected to be the subject of a public hearing in May or June.

If approved, it would be one of the largest affordable housing developments in Milford since the construction of Avalon Bay in 2004, which contains 246 units, with about 74 affordable units.

Garden Homes Management, which owns and manages the Golden Hill Apartments and a new development on Cascade Boulevard, has proposed the new project at 460 Bic Drive under the affordable housing statute.

The plan calls for 273 studio and one-bedroom rental units on 7.38 acres of land. Of those, 82 would be marketed as affordable apartments.

An existing structure on the property would be demolished.

Garden Homes Management Corp. was founded in 1968 and is a real estate investment management and development company located in Stamford, with properties in Connecticut and New York.

Tom Ivers, Milford’s block grant coordinator, had positive things to say about Garden Homes Management. The company’s 36-unit Cascade Boulevard project, which has not yet opened, includes more affordable units than was required by law, Ivers said.

Richard Freedman of Garden Homes Management said the company did that for two reasons.

“First, we did it because it’s the right thing to do,” Freedman said. “Second, we were hoping to make the plan more attractive to the Planning and Zoning Board.”

When developers file their plans under the state’s affordable housing statute, they take the upper hand in having their proposal approved. To deny an affordable housing plan, a Planning and Zoning Board must determine that it would present a health and safety risk in the area.

A community must have 10% of its housing stock earmarked as affordable in order to bypass the law. Milford’s affordable housing stock is at about 6%, and the city needs about 800 more affordable units to reach 10% Ivers said.

Freedman said he believes the proposal is ideal for the Bic Drive site because it offers easy access to I-95, and people traveling from the apartments to the highway wouldn’t pass residential areas.

“It doesn’t really affect anybody,” Freedman said.

The proposed site is across the street from North East Electronics Corp. and an area of wetlands that cannot be developed.

“It’s an appropriate location, and it’s a beautiful flat, wooded piece of property,” Freedman said. “We plan to save as many of the trees along the site as possible.”

The plan is still working its way through the city departments. Freedman expects the company will make some changes to the plan in response to department reviews, and then submit it for Planning and Zoning Board review.

Although a zoning official said the plan might make it for an April public hearing, Freedman believe May or June is more likely.