Seaside Avenue affordable housing plan denied

Plans for a proposed nine-unit complex with three affordable units at 214-224 Seaside Avenue were unanimously denied by the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) at its April 5 meeting.

Jeffrey Gordon, landscape architect, site planner, and president of Codespoti & Associates, who made the presentation on behalf of property owner Eugenia Debowski, indicated he planned to appeal the decision to Superior Court.

Commenting on the decision, Gordon said, “The board’s vote was expected. It is in line with their practice to give strong consideration to the expressed concerns of their constituents, even at the expense of defending such decisions in court.”

In making the motion to deny, board member Jim Quish said the “expert witnesses who were brought in said the sightlines were insufficient” and “the traffic is too fast for the sightlines that are there.” Quish further said that existing residents have a right to keep their neighborhood as single-family properties.

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.

At the March 15 public hearing, three traffic engineers and the Milford Police Department discussed traffic conditions on Seaside Avenue with a focus on the sightlines for the project driveway.

Two of the traffic engineers and the traffic sergeant reached the conclusion that there are no patterns of accidents in the area that would be attributed to the road’s design. The traffic engineers all agreed that if motorists were traveling in excess of the 25 mile per hour posted speed limit, then the driveway sight lines were slightly inadequate.

Eugenia Debowski of Acworth, Georgia, owns the two adjacent lots with existing single-family homes on Seaside Avenue, just north of Meadowside Road. The properties are zoned R-12.5, requiring lot sizes to be at least 12,500 square foot for one-single family home.

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.

The plans call for adding seven two-bedroom cottages to the rear of the existing properties at 214-224 Seaside Avenue. Gordon said each would be about 1,200 square feet and built around a center courtyard. The cottages would have sprinklers.

The project would include 10 garage parking spaces and 12 surface parking spaces. The property would have a driveway and parking lot between the two existing houses.

Gordon said Debowski needs the income from the project to pay for her long-term care following a stroke.

The plan was filed under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law, which supersedes local zoning regulations. 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 8-30g applications denied by the board are working their way through the Land Use Litigation Docket, a branch of the Superior Court that handles zoning cases.