Neighbors prefer apartments over recycling

Residents at the Caswell Cove condominiums are pushing for a zone change that would allow housing to be built on the site of a nearby recycling facility.

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) held open a public hearing from its Dec. 4 meeting on a proposed apartment complex at 990 Naugatuck Avenue, which would involve both a zone change and modifications to the zoning regulations.

The hearing was left open to provide time for John Gaucher, an environmental analyst for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), to inspect the site and provide comments to the board.

The eight-acre site is currently owned by Gus Curcio of Stratford through his company Recycling Inc. Curcio has been battling Milford and DEEP about 10 years in an attempt to establish a recycling plant on the parcel.

Developer John Guedes, president of Primrose Companies of Shelton, has a contract with Curcio stating that if the board changes the zone from the current Housatonic Design District to the requested Waterfront Design District, then Curcio will sell the property to Guedes, and withdraw any pending litigation regarding the recycling company.

Jeffrey Gordon, a landscape architect and site planner for Codespoti and Associates, submitted an application to change the zone from the Housatonic Design District (HDD) to Waterfront Design District (WDD).

Gordon also submitted requested changes for multi-family dwellings in the WDD district. He proposes to revise the regulations in the Waterfront Design District (WDD) with regard to height, spacing, building area, and dwelling units.

The proposed regulation change would allow building heights up to four stories or 60 feet, instead of the current 35 feet. The proposal would change the way the minimum distance between buildings is calculated, increasing the building area from a maximum of 30% to a maximum of 80% of habitable floor area, and increasing the density from 10 dwelling units or 22 bedrooms per acre to 26 dwelling units per acre or 42 bedrooms per acre.

The proposal would add new text, which sets a minimum parking space requirement in the WDD of 1.5 spaces per one-bedroom dwelling unit, or two spaces per two-bedroom unit.

In his analysis of the zone change, City Planner David B. Sulkis wrote that the zone change would allow an affordable housing development, which is not allowed in industrial zones, such as the HDD zone. He said the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development calls for the river area to operate as a Utility Corridor.

“The expansion of the WDD zone into the HDD zone appears not to comply with the Plan of Conservation and Development,” wrote Sulkis.

In his analysis of the proposed regulation change, Sulkis wrote that the change would allow for housing of greater height and density than is currently allowed in the WDD zone. He said the change would affect all existing WDD zoned properties in the city, including those along Oronoque Road, and along portions of the Long Island Sound near East Broadway and Naugatuck Avenue.

The proposal drew support from residents of Caswell Cove, who are seeking to end industrial use on the 990 Naugatuck Avenue parcel, which would support Caswell Cove’s plan to complete its final phase on an adjacent parcel.

Dorothy Bateman of 632 Popes Island Road, who is president of the Caswell Cove Condominium Association, submitted a letter of support, asking the board to approve the zone and regulations changes.

Bateman wrote that the association plans to build an additional 44 units, but is hesitant to construct the units if there is the possibility of an active recycling plant on the adjacent property.

“A desirable waterfront residence would not only enhance Milford, it would end the ongoing struggle between the City of Milford and the present owners of the recycling company and 990 Naugatuck Ave.,” wrote Bateman.

The zone change is opposed by Devon Power, which operates a power plant at 734 Naugatuck Ave., located to the south of the 990 property. The company filed a Notice of Protest, saying it is the owner of 20% or more of the area of the lots within 500 feet in all directions of the property.

According to the protest, the power plant owns two parcels within 500 feet of the 990 property totaling 61.2 acres. If the board agrees with the protest, the zone change would require the vote of seven board members, not six, in order to pass.

Gordon is proposing constructing 210 units in the form of 86 one-bedroom units and 124 two-bedroom units in three, four-story buildings. One-bedroom units would be 830 square feet or 945 square feet. Two-bedroom units would range in size from 1,055 square feet to 1,260 square feet.

The application included a required fiscal impact analysis, which was produced by Turner Miller Group, New England. Continuing the existing industrial use would have a net revenue gain of $25,229 to the city.

The report indicates that the city would have a net revenue gain of $352,210 if the proposal is developed. If the property was developed with an affordable housing development with 56 three-bedroom units, there would be a fiscal impact of negative $448,596, due to the estimated number of school children the three-bedroom units would include.

The board voted 6-1 at its Aug. 21 meeting to allow the applicant to submit a change of zone without also including a special permit and site plan review. Board member John Grant voted against the motion.

Primrose Companies also plans to construct the last phase of Caswell Cove condominiums on its adjacent property.

At the Aug. 7 P&Z meeting, Guedes said the last phase of Caswell Cove was approved for about 80 units, and he is proposing instead to construct 45 townhouses. That roughly three-acre property is already in the WDD zone. Caswell Cove currently has 204 units. He does not plan to construct this phase if the possibility exists of a recycling plant at 990 Naugatuck Avenue.