Appellate Court agrees to hear Pond Point Avenue housing case

The state Appellate Court has agreed to review the case of the housing plan at 86 Pond Point Avenue, continuing the legal saga of the hotly contested application filed under the state’s affordable housing statute, 8-30g.

Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) Chairman Benjamin Gettinger announced at the start of the Dec. 15 P&Z meeting that the Appellate Court had granted the city’s Petition for Certification. This means that the court will review the June 29, 2015 decision issued by Justice Marshall K. Berger, presiding judge of the Superior Court’s Land Use Litigation Docket.

In that ruling, based on an appeal by the developer of the original denial by the P&Z, Berger wrote that the P&Z’s reasons for denial on Dec. 19, 2013 did not prove the project would create a risk to public health and safety and outweigh the need for affordable housing. The board had cited concerns due to traffic and the loss of open space.

The P&Z board met in executive session on Aug. 18 and Oct. 6 to discuss terms of a settlement with property owner Colberg LLC. Colberg LLC lists Thomas Colucci of 305 West Main St., Milford, as its manager. The board rejected that settlement by a 6-4 vote. The proposal called for a reduction from 23 units to 16 units.

The board met again in executive session at its Dec. 1 meeting to discuss a possible different settlement. That settlement was expected to come to a vote at the board’s Dec. 15 meeting. However, between the two meetings, the Appellate Court agreed to review the case, scuttling any interim settlement. Since the P&Z conducted its discussion in executive session, officials did not release any details regarding what that settlement might have entailed.

City Planner David B. Sulkis commented on the proposal during a break at the Dec. 15 meeting, saying that the Land Use Litigation Docket is set up to fast track decisions on affordable housing applications. However, Sulkis said the Appellate Court has no such timeline, and said the appeal could take years.

The applicant could choose to withdraw its appeal and resubmit a different application to the P&Z.

At the board’s Oct. 20 meeting, city attorney Jonathan Berchem told the board that Berger has issued 22 decisions on 8-30g applications and all have been in favor of the developer. He said two of the 22 cases were appealed to the Appellate Court and the court sided with the developer in both cases.

Other 8-30g Plan Rejected

The board rejected a modified proposal for an eight unit affordable housing development at 1613 New Haven Ave., filed under the 8-30g statute.

Board vice chair Jeanne Cervin proposed reducing the project to seven units to decrease the density and create room for an enclosed play area for children. The measure failed by a 3-5 vote, leaving the applicant with a decision to make, whether it will appeal, or resubmit.

The developer is Charles Gagliardi of West Haven, who purchased the 0.43-acre property for  $201,000 in June 2012 under the name Seaview Cove LLC, which lists him as the sole member. The vacant property is located in an R-12.5 zone, which is a single-family zone, between Anderson Avenue and the Oyster River.

The board unanimously approved an 85,617 square foot building for a self-storage facility to be operated by Lock Up Milford LLC at 417-421 Bridgeport Ave., which is a vacant lot on Rt. 1 opposite the Exit 34 ramps.

Attorney John W. Knuff presented the application on behalf of Lock Up Milford, which applied for a change of zone from Corridor Design District-3 (CDD-3) to Corridor Design District-2 (CDD-2). Liberty Rock Enterprises LLC owns the property. Liberty Rock lists Christian L. Trefz of Westport as member and manager.

Knuff also submitted an application for an addition to the Milford zoning regulations, Sections 3.17.2 and, “Self-storage facilities in accordance with the following provisions and conditions”.

In additional Knuff submitted an application for a special permit, Coastal Area Management Site Plan Review and site plan view for an 85,617 sq. ft. self-storage facility.