Beach Shore Village zoning change stalled

Plans to complete Beach Shore Village condominiums at 30 East Broadway are expected to be reintroduced at an upcoming Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) meeting on a date to be determined.

The board had two proposals on the agenda for its July 5 meeting, but the applicant, Beach Village LLC, temporarily withdrew those applications pending expected revisions to the plans.

Beach Village LLC proposed an amendment to the zoning regulations to allow mixed-use buildings with less than 20% commercial space in the Corridor Design District 2 (CDD-2) zone. The proposed regulation would apply only to the Beach Shore Village property.

Some neighbors and businesses have opposed this change, arguing that the business component is a big part in making Walnut Beach a thriving business and art district, and they don’t want to see the business component reduced: The proposed regulation change would lessen the amount of required businesses in the development.

In the zoning regulations, Article III, Section discusses required conditions for mixed-residential use lots and specifies that “not more than 80% of the total gross floor area of the lot in a mixed-residential use shall be devoted to residential use.”

The proposed revision would make an exception to that rule if a lot is wholly or partially in the AE-12 flood zone and contains four or more acres. In that case the total gross floor area devoted to commercial use would be reduced to 5.5%, with the remaining dedicated to residential.

Resident and Walnut Beach businesswoman Susan Patrick has said in the past that the zoning change thwarts a long-standing vision to combine commercial and residential property on the site to make it work as part of the Walnut Beach art district.

When the issue first arose, Patrick said she gets calls every month from people wanting to rent in the area.

She said the area has “no available commercial space, and they want to remove what we have left.”

The Planning and Zoning Board agenda also had an application for an amendment to a special permit and site plan review to construct two, four-unit residential buildings (A and D per the amended plan) at 30 East Broadway, which is part of Beach Shore Village complex.

Attorney Thomas Lynch proposed the change to the zoning regulations on behalf of the developer, Beach Village LLC. When he first proposed the plan two years ago, Lynch said there are problems with completing the project with the previously 20% commercial component.

The board voted on Nov. 4, 2015 to adopt a regulation change in which it stated the P&Z would determine the percentage of commercial and residential uses on a mixed-use site in an AE-1(.)

However, the Walnut Beach Association and 12 neighboring business and property owners appealed the decision and a Superior Court judge overturned the regulation change.

Judge Arthur Hiller issued a Sept. 16, 2016 decision in which he wrote that the regulation change adopted by the Planning and Zoning Board at its Nov. 4, 2015 meeting was “vague and meaningless,” commenting that it provided “no guidelines and [made] the decision of the amount of residential use area an arbitrary one.”

Lynch told the board at its July 5, 2017 meeting that the regulation change he is proposing now is similar to the regulation change that the board approved two years ago, but was overturned by the court. He said the new regulations were proposed “to address the court ruling.”

But Lynch told the board he was temporarily withdrawing the new regulation change and site plan because neighbors had some additional concerns. He said his client met with the neighbors and will amend the plans even further “to address the neighbors’ concerns.”

With changes to the site plan anticipated, Lynch said it was better to withdraw and then refile.

“Hopefully, we can come back with something that will please everyone,” said Lynch.

Two years ago, Lynch said that as a result of the changes to the flood zones in Milford, one proposed building would now be located in the flood zone, requiring it to be placed on

12-foot-high piers.

The original design for the complex called for businesses on the first floor and residential units on the second and third floors. With the new flood zone, “it is impractical and practically impossible” to have a first-floor business, said Lynch in 2015.