Apartment plans for historic Milford site get Inland Wetland approval

Two high-density apartment complexes intended to replace single-family homes, in one case an historic Milford home tied to the city’s founder, received unanimous approval at the Dec. 20 Inland Wetlands Agency meeting and will go before the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) at a future date that has not been set.

The Inland Wetlands Agency approved the applications with conditions and the requirement for a bond related to soil and erosion control. Most of the conditions are technical details related to the construction. Both projects also carry the condition that when the snow exceeds the snow shelf area, it must be removed from the site.

In its approval for both projects, the agency commented that the approvals would not have an impact or effect on the physical characteristics of wetlands and watercourses. The agency's determinations are based only on inland wetland impact, and not on other aspects of the proposals that come before it.

The Inland Wetlands Agency conducted a public hearing on the proposal for 44 one-bedroom apartments with 44 parking spaces, and a 1,265 square foot office at 67 Prospect St., as a result of a petition filed by area residents.

The 0.98-acre property, which has a 3,600-square-foot house from 1835, is located in the Milford Center Design District (MCDD). In the MCDD zone, zoning regulations require 1,000 square feet of land for each one bedroom or efficiency unit.

The project needed wetlands approval because the property is located within 150 feet of wetlands or watercourses within the Wepawaug River watershed.

The property is owned by 67 Prospect Street LLC. The LLC lists Christina Smyth of 7 Park Ave. Apt. 18D, New York, N.Y., along with Michael Tarantino of 844 East Broadway, Milford, and Daniel Boynton of 42 White Birch Drive, Milford, as its members. Boynton and Smith purchased the property for $455,000 on July 20, 2015.

At the start of the public hearing, agency Chairman Brendan Magnan stated that the hearing was for a modification to an existing permit and the application did not propose any work within a wetland or watercourse. He said the agency’s role was to apply restrictions as needed to avoid adverse impacts in the inland wetlands and watercourses.

William Kenney, professional wetland and soil scientist, said the site is comprised of well-drained sand and gravel, and is 130 feet from the river and 850 feet from the nearest wetland, which is located in the cemetery. Kenney said a subsurface recharge system could hold three times the volume of stormwater needed.

No one spoke in favor of the proposal at the hearing, while seven people spoke in opposition.

Kate Orecchio of 165 North Broad St. said the property would change from a house covering one-eighth of the property to a project that will cover close to 90% of the land. She said she believed the drainage did not seem adequate.

Raymond Oliver, a local architect representing the Milford Cemetery Association, said Engineer Robert Hiza had reviewed the plans and was concerned that during a 100-year storm, water will spill onto the cemetery property and destroy graves. He said the property would go from 30% to 90% impervious coverage.

Ann Maher of 50 Prospect St. said that since the apartments at 35 Prospect St. were built, Prospect Street and the adjacent Daughters of the American Revolution property have seen increased problems with drainage and flooding.

Many residents have been paying close attention to plans for the property because of its historic significance.

The Rev. Peter Prudden was granted this home lot in 1646, former City Historian Richard Platt said in recent months.

“Not only was this the home of the leader of the group who founded Milford, but most of the early settlers were buried in his garden, the area to the rear of the property,” Platt said. “Because this was Milford’s first burying ground makes this as close to what we may call ‘sacred ground’ to descendants of the founders.”

The Milford Preservation Trust and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), along with several concerned neighbors, had been monitoring the property “with growing alarm,” Preservation Trust President Michele Kramer said several months ago.

The Rev. Peter Prudden (1601-1656) was leader of the Hertfordshire Group that founded Milford in 1639 and first pastor of the First United Church of Christ.

The current house at 67 Prospect Street would be demolished according to plans filed with the city. Although it is on the Prudden property, it was built more than 100 years after Peter Prudden died. According to the state’s Historic Resources Inventory, David L. Baldwin built the house in 1835. A genealogical website called geni.com says that David Lewis Baldwin, who was born in Milford in 1785 and died in 1877, was town clerk of Milford for 27 years, and clerk of probate for Milford for 12 years.

New Haven Avenue Project

The agency also approved a wetland permit for an 18-unit apartment complex at 690 New Haven Ave. The 1.35-acre property is located in the Corridor Design Development District 4 (CDD-4) zone.

The project will have three one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units, and three three-bedroom units. There will be 54 parking spaces, including 21 in garages.

There is a 1,356 square foot house from 1950 on the property. The owner is 690 New Haven Avenue LLC, which lists Anthony Monaco of New Haven as managing member. The LLC purchased the property on June 5, 2017 for $255,000.

In the CDD-4 zone, zoning regulations require 2,000 square feet of land for each one bedroom or efficiency unit, and 3,000 square feet of land for each two- or three-bedroom unit.

Since there was no petition for a public hearing, no request to review the plans, and no questions about the project, the agency opted not to have a public hearing.

This project appeared before the board because the buildings will be within 100 feet of wetlands within the Indian River watershed. The approval includes a conservation easement of 0.43 acres at the rear of the property, prohibiting construction in this wetlands area.

At the meeting, Attorney Kevin Curseaden said the applicant considered and rejected other options, which included 23 units filed under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law, a single 36-unit multi-story building, and a seven building plan with 19 units.

Jennifer Beno, biologist and wetland scientist, told the agency that the invasive plant species, along with debris and fill would be removed from the property. Beno said there are no direct wetlands impacts, as long as approved soil and erosion control measures are properly installed and maintained. She said that shrub and tree plantings and invasive species removal will enhance the wildlife habitat function provided by the wetland.