Residents speak out against Grillo's apartment plan

Residents will have an another opportunity to comment on a proposed 342-unit apartment complex at 553 West Ave. at the Planning and Zoning Board’s (P&Z) Sept. 5 meeting, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

A total of 13 residents spoke in opposition to the project at the board’s Aug. 15 meeting, asking the board to reject the application for a special permit and site plan review filed by Grillo Services LLC. No one from the public spoke in favor of the application. The public hearing was suspended at 11 p.m., following comments by State Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D-14).

The apartment complex would have 125 one-bedroom apartments, 198 two-bedroom apartments, and 19 three-bedroom apartments. Thirty percent or 103 units would be set aside for rent at affordable rates to people who meet income guidelines.

Many of those who spoke live at Gloria Commons condominiums, which is located across West Avenue from the proposed location, adjacent to a city-owned sanitary sewer pump station. They raised concerns about traffic, odors of sewer gas, gas pipeline safety, and effect on wildlife.

Cheryl Morgan of 11 Mickel Lane said there has been the smell of sewer gas in their units for the last 10 years, and there is more sewage going into the pump station. Morgan said a pack of coyotes has been approaching people on the Gloria Commons property. She said the animals are being displaced.

Paula Sherko of 26 Lucius Court said there is an S curve on West Avenue coming from the Boston Post Road, noting that there have been three fender benders in the last 10 years. Sherko said, “You can actually gag” from the smell coming from the pump station. Commenting on animals, she said she has seen bobcats in the woods by the condos, and “Coyotes are getting out of control.”

Carol Penta of 21 Lucius Court said, “My concern is the number of cars coming out of that project. On Schoolhouse Road, very often the traffic is backed up to West Avenue.” Due to her difficulties with traffic on Schoolhouse Road, Penta said, “I will go down West Avenue where the curve is.”

Frank Ellison of 11 Tibbals St. said he owns a unit at Gloria Commons with his sister, which city records indicate is 8 Lucius Court, co-owned with Irene Ellison. Ellison shouted his remarks at the board, saying his concern is all the development in Milford, and developers who get what they want, despite public opposition.

“Who are you listening to? What’s the point of these meetings? Why do we count so little when it comes to developers who want to develop?” asked Ellison.

Joseph Bogdan of 3 Audubon Close said he is a retired Milford police officer who worked for many years in the traffic division.

Bogdan said the police department raised concern about all building access going through the parking garages, noting there will be other doors around the building. He said the fire department often has master keys, which the police department does not. He said the fire department sometimes uses ladder trucks for medical calls, and questioned if they could fit into the parking garage.

Bodgan also raised concern about the proximity of the Iroquois gas pipeline, which runs through the center of the proposed development. He said the company paid millions in fines in 2006, and company officers were arrested, due to construction violations, including improper backfilling and building the pipeline over boulders.

When the pipeline was built, the compromise in Milford was to have it pass through industrial areas, not high-density residential areas, said Bogdan. He said some states restrict building to areas 1,200 to 1,400 feet away from a gas pipeline.

“I cannot believe the fire marshal would allow building over the pipeline,” said Bogdan.

In fact, the plans actually call for the buildings to be located on either side of the pipeline.

Mort Kliger of 33 Audubon Close said the sightline on West Avenue toward Sub Way is limited due to the I-95 overpass and the road curvature. He said people would use Grinnell Street to access I-95 northbound at Plains Road. He asked the board to hire a traffic consultant to review traffic conditions.

Kliger said during a May 2 Conservation Commission site walk, the Grillos said they do not plan to construct the project, but would seek a developer to do the construction. He said the 8-30g statute says the applicant has to have the intent to build the project.

Cliff Mason of 1427 Naugatuck Ave. said he worked on a project on this parcel in 1986 when it was owned by the New Haven Water Company. The developer at the time “ran up a tab of $300,000” in preparing plans, and finally dropped out when “the economy became an issue.” Mason said he suggested various uses for the property, including a building for Subway, a hotel, a medical office building, or senior housing.

“I hoped they would not go 8-30g. They need to recover their investment,” said Mason, in reference to plans for a composting operation at the site, which the P&Z rejected in March 2016.

Slossberg said she had “serious concerns” about the project being located in a flood plain, and said the denial of the application by the Police Commission is “very significant.”

Slossberg said the 8-30g law “does not wipe away a sound planning process” and said the board could approve with conditions. She criticized the size of the project, saying, “It sticks out like a sore thumb. They may be beautiful in Stamford, but they really don’t look like anything in that area.”