Modified Seaside Avenue housing plan returns to P&Z

A contested plan for a proposed nine-unit housing complex with three affordable units at 214-224 Seaside Avenue returns in a modified form before the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) at a public hearing on Tuesday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Jeffrey Gordon, landscape architect, site planner, and president of Codespoti & Associates, has submitted updated plans on behalf of property owner Eugenia Debowski. The intent is to address concerns raised by P&Z members with regard to sightlines to the north, concerns that the board cited in its April 5 decision to deny the original plan.

According to Gordon, in the new plans, the house at 224 Seaside Avenue will be demolished. The two garages originally planned for 214 Seaside Avenue would instead be located at 224 Seaside Avenue. A single-family cottage would be built at 214 Seaside Avenue, along with the seven cottages originally proposed for the rear of the property.

“This will allow us to utilize the existing 214 [Seaside Avenue] driveway, which meets the more stringent sight distance requirements for an intersection, even though it is exempt from CDOT [Connecticut Department of Transportation] standards as a driveway,” wrote Gordon in a June 12 email.

The project needs a special permit, coastal management site plan review approval, and site plan review approval.

The board unanimously denied the original application for the project at its April 5 meeting, saying the sightlines for the proposed driveway at 224 Seaside Avenue were insufficient for the speed of vehicles on Seaside Avenue.

David Spear, traffic engineer for the applicant, presented speed counts at the March 15 public hearing, saying the northbound 85th percentile speed at the project location is 34 mph and the southbound speed is 33 mph. At 34 mph, the originally proposed driveway at 224 Seaside Avenue needed a sightline to the north of 379 feet and had 360 feet. At 33 mph, the project needed 368 feet and had 320 feet.

The new plan has a sightline to the north greater than the 368 feet required for the actual travel speed of 33 mph and a sightline of nearly 1,000 feet to the south, noted Gordon.

During public hearings on March 1 and March 15, neighbors asked the board to deny the project, saying the traffic situation on Seaside Avenue is already challenging, and the project would only increase the problem.

The 0.46-acre property at 214 Seaside Avenue has a 2,100 square foot home constructed in 1947, while the 0.72-acre lot at 224 Seaside Avenue has an 1,800 square foot home constructed in 1900. The two properties total 1.18 acres.

Gordon said each cottage would be about 1,200 square feet. The cottages would have sprinklers. The project would include 10 garage parking spaces and 12 surface parking spaces.

The plan was filed under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law, which supersedes local zoning regulations. If the P&Z chooses to reject the revised plans, for the court to sustain the denial, the P&Z has to prove the project poses a hazard to public health, safety or welfare, a threat that outweighs the need for affordable housing.
Other items
The board will also conduct a public hearing to establish the Turkish Cultural Center of Connecticut at 9 Research Drive, which is located in an ID zone. The project needs a special exception and site plan review.

Attorney Thomas B. Lynch is proposing a change in the zoning regulations Article III, Section and Sec. These regulations pertain to the design (paragraph 1) and the spacing (paragraph 4) of buildings in Medium Density Multiple Family Residential Districts (RMF-9 and RMF-16).