Gulf Street housing plan modified; Wheelers Farm plan delayed

While zoning boards have little power to regulate applications filed under the state's affordable housing regulations, Connecticut General Statute 8-30g, they do have two tools at their disposal: Modify and delay, and the Planning and Zoning Board used both tools at its April 21 public hearing.
With no discussion, the P&Z voted unanimously to approve with conditions an 8-30g application for a 15-unit apartment complex on a 0.75-acre property at 14 Gulf Street. Two-Ninety Six LLC is the developer, listing Angelo Lisi as the LLC's member.
The board imposed four conditions on the application: Increase the number of affordable units from five to six and prohibit two-bedroom units. The board also told the applicant to create a passive recreation area in the open space at the rear, and improve the landscaping plan by adding two street trees on Gulf Street, and install additional shrubs alongside the building.
The existing house and garages will be demolished, and replaced with five buildings, each with three one-bedroom apartments. The applicant has the legal right to appeal an approval that it believes is burdensome.
Six residential neighbors spoke against the proposal, mostly voicing concerns about traffic. The proposal received support from two Milford business people.
The board's decision to approve with conditions was surely influenced by an April 7 settlement forced by the Superior Court's Land Use Litigation Docket allowing an affordable housing plan to move forward at 1556 New Haven Avenue, a plan the board denied in June 2014. That plan involves building a six-unit apartment building behind an existing single-family house on a 0.62-acre property.
That proposal now moves to the Litigation Docket for a court hearing to decide on the proposed settlement. The hearing will take place May 7 at 10 a.m. at the court, 95 Washington Street, Hartford.
The 8-30g regulation overrides local zoning regulations, unless the board can prove the proposal represents a threat to public health, safety or welfare.
Prior to the meeting, Attorney Thomas Lynch, attorney for an 8-30g application for a 257-unit apartment complex in an office district at 460 Bic Drive, said a law firm is preparing to file an appeal of the board's denial at its April 7 meeting.
Lynch indicated an affordable housing application for 9 units on a 0.43-acre property at 1613 New Haven Avenue will be presented to the board at an upcoming meeting as an 8-30g application. Seaview Cove LLC of West Haven is listed as the owner with Charles B. Gagliardi listed as member.
Wheelers Farm Plans Delayed
Fresh on the heels of its denial of the Bic Drive apartment complex at 460 Bic Drive, the P&Z deferred until May 19 a public hearing on a proposed 180-unit apartment complex on a property zoned for office use on the west side of Wheelers Farms Road.
Board members said they did not wish to hear the application because it was incomplete, saying there was no report from four city agencies: The Inland-Wetland Agency, the Police Commission, the Conservation Commission and the Public Works Department.
The hearing is scheduled to continue on May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. About 40 residents attended the April 21 hearing. The board commonly delays hearing incomplete applications.
At the start of the April 21 hearing, P&Z vice chair Jeanne Cervin commented, “I have great concerns we are seeing a presentation that is premature,” citing the reports from these four agencies that have not been submitted. “It has certainly been a long-standing practice of this board to have a complete application. I'm not sure it's fair to the public, the board or the applicant to discuss this without one.”
Attorney Timothy S. Hollister, who represents Wheeler Woods LLC of Lakewood, New Jersey, pleaded with the board to allow his team to make an initial presentation to the board, saying he fully expected the hearing would extend over several meetings.
“The applicant has done everything in our power to get ready for tonight,” said Hollister, saying there were events beyond their control.
Hollister said the site walks for the Conservation Commission and the Inland-Wetlands Agency were delayed due to snow on the ground. He said he had expected to be on the Police Commission agenda, but the application will not be reviewed there until May 11.
Cervin expressed the concern that if the wetlands agenda made recommendations that altered the site plan, the P&Z would have to review the application all over again.
In response, Hollister said the plan does not involve any direct disturbance to the wetlands.
“I don't expect the buildings and the roads to move,” said Hollister. “There are a lot of things tonight that have nothing to do with the [site] plans.”
Board vice chair Edward Mead said that health and safety is one of the things that boards can use to deny 8-30g applications, information that would come from a Police Commission report.
“I would like to wait until the police report is in,” said Mead, further commenting that two board members were absent from the meeting, and they would have to review at home the hour of testimony that Hollister said he was presenting.
Board Chairman Benjamin Gettinger said the board usually reviews complete applications.
“We look at it through that lens. We are missing a big part of this application,” said Gettinger.
The Wheelers Farms Road property, which is vacant land, is bordered on the west by the Daniel S. Wasson Connector, on the south by homes on East Rutland Road and on the north by two office complexes. Across the street is Filanowski Farms.
Wheeler Woods LLC of Lakewood, New Jersey is requesting a change in the zoning regulations to create a new Housing Opportunity District (HOD). The applicant is also filing for a zone change from DO-25 (Design Office) and R-A (one-acre residential) to the proposed HOD zone. Finally, the applicant asked for approval to construct the rental community.
The Wheelers Farm Road proposal is far less dense than the rejected application on Bic Drive. The Bic Drive proposal called for 257 studio and one-bedroom apartments in a 204,000-square-foot building on 7.69 acres. The Wheelers Farm application proposes 180 apartments in a cluster of apartment building on 26 acres. There would be 62 one-bedroom units, 100 two-bedroom units, and 18 three-bedroom units, totaling 316 bedrooms.
The Wheelers Farms Road application is working its way through the Inland-Wetland Agency because the property is within 100 feet of wetlands in the Housatonic River watershed and within 150 feet of wetlands in the Wepawaug River watershed. There are two areas of wetlands on the property, but there are no plans to fill or directly impact the wetlands. The agency plans a site walk on April 28 at 4 p.m.