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Shelton P&Z commission agrees to oppose 30-unit apartment building

December 17, 2018

SHELTON — A proposal to build a 30-unit apartment building at Old Bridgeport Avenue and Sunwood Drive appears headed for denial, mainly because of density and traffic concerns.

The Planning and Zoning Commission reached a unanimous consensus Dec. 11 to oppose the project by GNK LLC when the application comes before the board at some future time.

Member James Tickey said the proposed development is “a traffic generator” that would worsen nearby intersections on Bridgeport Avenue and have “a negative impact on nearby residents.”

GNK has applied to create a Planned Development District (PDD) to build a three-story building on a 1.9-acre parcel at 301 Old Bridgeport Avenue. The property previously housed a childcare center.

Old Bridgeport Avenue runs parallel to Bridgeport Avenue between the D’Addario auto dealership and the Wiffle Ball factory. The apartment entrance would be on Sunwood Drive, a private road off Old Bridgeport Avenue that leads to the Sunwood Condominiums.

“I believe it’s too dense,” said member Charles Kelly, pointing out there’s really only about an acre to work with because of an existing private road on the land and wetlands.

Putting 30 units and a 63-space parking lot on the usable land was “kind of ridiculous,” Kelly said.

Kelly noted a nearby apartment complex, approved by the P&Z but not built because of a legal challenge, has fewer units on three acres.

Many residents spoke against the project during the application process, saying they feared more drivers would use the condo as a cut-through to reach Nells Rock Road. They also highlighted existing traffic congestion near Route 8’s Exit 13 interchange on Bridgeport Avenue.

Member Mark Widomski called the proposal “way too dense,” saying it could hurt nearby property values and the interests of people now living in the immediate area.

Widomski said traffic delays would be increasing on Bridgeport Avenue, mentioning other approved developments in the vicinity, including the massive Shelter Ridge retail, office and apartment complex.

“We’re overloading that intersection,” he said of the Route 8 interchange.

City land-use consultant Anthony Panico said based on the property’s current Restricted Business District (RBD) zone, P&Z members should consider what else might be built at the site and the potential impact compared with 30 apartment units.

Members said they would deal with another proposal when it shows up.

“We’re discussing what’s on the table now,” Pogoda said.

The RBD zone would allow multi-family housing, offices, small manufacturing, limited retail, a restaurant, gas station and utility facilities, although Panico said some of those uses aren’t realistic.

Chairman Virginia Harger said while some of the possible RBD uses would “be a lot worse,” she wasn’t comfortable with the apartment proposal because of the number of units being proposed.

“The applicant really needs to consider this number of units,” said Harger, in comments echoed by a few other members. They said a plan with fewer living units might be acceptable.

Member Elaine Matto said she doesn’t understand why the developer wants to change the zoning to a PDD rather than pursue housing as allowed under the RBD zone, but suspects an RBD requirement for more parking might be one reason.

Matto said Sunwood residents have “legitimate concerns” involving traffic and the safety of walkers inside the condo complex.

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