Bic Drive housing denial heads to court
As expected, the Planning and Zoning Board's (P&Z) April 7 denial of a plan to construct a 257-unit apartment building with an affordable component at 460 Bic Drive has been appealed to court.
Thomas Lynch, attorney for the applicant, Garden Homes Residential of Stamford, said he filed an appeal with the Land Use Litigation Docket on May 1. Lynch anticipates the case will take six to nine months for the court to review and issue a ruling.
The application was filed under the state's affordable housing regulations, Connecticut General Statute 8-30g, which overrides local zoning regulations. The Land Use Litigation Docket is a special branch of the Superior Court designed to hear certain land use cases, including 8-30g appeals. In 8-30g cases, the burden of proof rests strongly on the P&Z to prove that any denied project has a public health or safety issue that outweighs the goal of encouraging affordable housing.
In rejecting the Bic Drive application, the board cited a number of safety concerns, which had been raised by neighbors. Concerns included low water pressure for domestic use and fire protection, restricted vehicle access, an increase in traffic at Bic Drive and Naugatuck Avenue, and blasting that could endanger the Iroquois gas pipeline that crosses the site.
Commenting on the denial, Lynch said on April 7, “The record contains nothing that would lead to the denial, based on public health and safety.”
A “Demolition” sign has been posted along the property boundary on both Bic Drive and Naugatuck Avenue, although no work has taken place. Garden Homes had offered the Milford Fire Department the opportunity to use the existing 1850s farmhouse for training activities, prior to the demolition.
Court Approves Settlement
Meanwhile, on May 7 the land use court accepted a settlement between the board and another developer concerning an affordable housing plan at 1556 New Haven Avenue. In June 2014, the P&Z rejected a proposal for adding seven apartments to a 0.62-acre parcel with an existing house at that location. The zone is R-7.5, which restricts houses to one-family in design.
The applicant, Bella Properties, appealed the denial to the Superior Court's Land Use Litigation Docket, which returned the proposal to the P&Z board in January 2015 to settle with the developer. The board conducted four executive sessions from January to March to discuss the proposed settlement.
The largest change was retaining the house as a single-family use: the original plan suggested it be a two-family residence. The change reduced the property from a planned eight-unit development to one with seven units, of which two will be designated for rent at the 80% affordability rate. The plan includes the construction of two buildings at the rear with three apartments each. The new buildings will have sprinklers, another part of the settlement.
Meadowside Road plan
Another 8-30g application is pending that would change a single-family property to multi-family. An application for 335 Meadowside Road calls for demolishing an 1879 house and replacing it with three apartment buildings containing a total of 18 units. Six of the units would be rented at affordable rates.
The P&Z public hearing is scheduled for June 2 at 7:30 p.m. The one-acre property is zoned R-12, a single-family zone. The property owner is 335 Meadowside LLC, which lists Christopher F. Field of 17 Beacon Hill Lane, Milford as the managing member.
The public hearing for a proposed 180-unit apartment complex on Wheelers Farm Road will continue at the board's June 16 meeting, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. The board conducted the first part of the hearing on May 19 on behalf of Milford Developers LLC, the applicant for the proposal, which has an affordable component. About 100 residents attended that hearing and 21 spoke in opposition, citing concerns about traffic safety and stormwater runoff.