Beach area units shift from commercial to residential

Beach Shore Village condominiums, at the junction of Naugatuck Avenue and East Broadway, will shift the purpose of some unbuilt units from commercial to residential, following a unanimous vote of the the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z). The board’s two votes on Nov. 4 adopted a change to the zoning regulations and approved the revised site plan.

Attorney Thomas Lynch proposed the change to the zoning regulations on behalf of the developer, Beach Village LLC, saying that there are problems with completing the project with the previously required 20% commercial component.

“Commercial development really has not taken hold” along lower Naugatuck Avenue, said Lynch, commenting that there is “a great deal of vacant commercial space in the area.

Lynch said there is a demand for residential property in the area, which then provides additional customers for the existing businesses. He said for each residential unit built, the developer is required to contribute $10,000 to a fund used to improve building facades in the area.

According to Lynch, another problem with the project is that “Banks just don’t give mortgages on commercial condominium units. They do not meet Fannie Mae standards. It really is an impractical form of ownership.”

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 called for businesses on the first floor and the residential units on the second and third floors. With the new design, “it is impractical and practically impossible” to have a first floor business, said Lynch.

Architect Raymond Oliver said that with the revised plan Building A along Naugatuck Avenue would be changed from five units of commercial use to four units of residential use. This building is located outside the flood zone.

Building D along East Broadway would switch from four units of commercial use to four units of residential use. The first floor would be used for a garage and storage area with the living area on the two floors above the piers supporting the structure. This building would include an elevator for each unit.

The board grappled with how best to update the zoning regulations to allow the change from commercial to residential at Beach Village, but not to have unintended consequences in other parts of the Corridor Design District 2 (CDD-2) zone.

Board member John Grant said, “The CDD-2 zone’s whole purpose is to have a mixed-use neighborhood.” Grant said that one possibility could be to change the zone of the property to residential.

In response, Lynch said that the way he drafted the proposed language in working with city planner David B. Sulkis, the board would have the discretion to consider each individual application. He said on other properties within the zone, a greater percentage of commercial use might be more appropriate.

Sulkis advised against the zone change, saying that nearby residential zones are all single-family areas, and that the change would render the commercial sections at Beach Shore as non-conforming uses.

The board took a recess, giving Sulkis and Lynch time to work on revisions to the proposed language to limit the effect to this property. When the board reconvened the meeting, Sulkis proposed that the change to the regulations would only affect properties in the AE-12 flood zone, and would allow the board to determine the percentage of commercial and residential uses on a site. This was the language that the board unanimously supported.