Meadowside plan returning to P&Z for reduction in affordable units

A proposed apartment complex with an affordable component at 335 Meadowside Road is returning to the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) for a July 21 public hearing at 7:30 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium.
At its June 16 meeting, the board approved a modified version of the original proposal, decreasing the total number of two-bedroom townhouses from 18 to 15, and increasing the number of units designated as affordable from six to seven.
Field & Son Builders, which is owned by Christopher and Gary Field, owns the one-acre property. The Fields filed the application under state's affordable housing statute, 8-30g, a law that overrides local zoning regulations. The property is zoned for single-family use.
In the revised application, Field is seeking to return the number of affordable units to the maximum of 30% required by the state law, which is five for the 15 units. The project will have a garage for each unit, plus an additional 32 surface parking spaces.
The revised plans also incorporate a request from the board for a recreation area. At the rear of the property, the plans show a 15-foot by 15-foot patio area with grills, adjacent to a small lawn area. The plans also include a board-requested sidewalk from the rear of the property to Meadowside Road.
The plans show an L-shaped configuration for the buildings with the townhouses in five buildings bordering three homes on West Shore Drive, and bordering one home at the rear of the property, and the parking area bordering three homes on Elgid Drive.
About 50 area residents attended the public hearing on the original application with 12 neighbors expressing concerns about the property's density and the traffic it would generate.
In his presentation, Attorney Thomas Lynch noted that there are already other multi-family projects nearby that are either condominiums or senior citizen housing.
Elgid Drive backs up to the Alberta Jagoe apartments, while the other side of West Shore Drive borders the former military housing on Seemans Lane. Just down Meadowside Road is the senior housing on DeMaio Drive. There are also two condominium buildings on either side of Standish Lane.
Commenting in a July 13 email regarding the resubmission, Lynch indicated that his client was agreeing to the reduction in units, along with building the walkway to Meadowside Road. However, he said the Fields did not agree with the designation of seven affordable units.
“Sec. 8-30g allows a resubmission of a plan approved with conditions not acceptable to the developer and it stays an appeal of an original application until the revised plan is considered by the board,” wrote Lynch.
“If they choose not to accept our proposal, the applicant can appeal to court, which we hope to avoid if the board approves our compromise. The Fields are offering a reasonable plan, which addresses the board's concerns and is economically feasible to them,” concluded Lynch.
When the board approved the modified plan at its June 16 meeting, City Planner David B. Sulkis warned the board by saying, “The city has never won an 8-30g appeal.”
Based on this history, if the board rejects the reduction in affordable units from seven to five, the Fields could appeal this to the state's Land Use Litigation Docket. They would likely prevail, given that the five affordable units meet the requirements of the 8-30g statute
The July 21 public hearing has two other new applications. Connecticut Self-Storage has applied to construct a self-storage facility with 595 units on a 3.55-acre property at 33 Schoolhouse Road. John and Cathy Mortimer are seeking to construct a single-family home at 41 James St.
The board will also be conducting the final public hearing on a proposed 180-unit apartment complex with an affordable component on Wheelers Farms Road.