Quiet now, but controversial Land Use plans to come

February 15, 2019

STAMFORD — As controversial items stack on Zoning and Planning board agendas for the months to come, one proposal lurks, likely set for a late spring reveal.

That plan, to convert North Stamford’s Long Ridge Swim & Tennis Club was filed with the city Land Use Bureau in early fall, and while it’s the longest gestating land-use application, several others that have also been hanging around will soon come to the forefront this spring.

Soccer and Tennis Club?

First applied for in late September, a multi-pronged change to the text of the city’s Zoning Regulations paving the way for the club conversion riled residents before it even got to a public hearing.

The plan, to replace the old club house, reduce the number of tennis courts in half and build two new soccer fields — one full, the other partial — upset neighbors who fear congestion, and light and noise pollution.

The proposal is being brought by Greenwich native Martin Waters, who casts the change as a saving grace for the club, which would go the way of abandoned Twin Lakes nearby if not for a new plan.

To check the noise and light, the Zoning Board voted to flex a recently-granted muscle and hire an independent consultant to asses aspects of the plan at the developer’s cost.

The consultant reviews are now ongoing, said Land Use Chief Ralph Blessing. One is for noise, the other for lighting.

Once the reviews come in, the proposal would first go the Planning Board for a recommendation to the Zoning Board. No date is yet set.

Twice the Charter

Amazon on Valentine’s Day dumped New York City for a second headquarters, but fellow Fortune 500 company Charter Communications has done the opposite here in Stamford. The company has doubled down on its new headquarters plan for the so-called Gateway site near Interstate 95.

The company and developer Building and Land Technology, which is constructing the new building, are requesting an addition to the HQ now rising. It would also build nearly 300 more parking spaces.

The site was already approved for a second building, but not the size and scope now requested. Still, the sticking point is likely parking — not size. Early plans called for 500 spaces dedicated to train commuters. Charter now wants those back, for its employees and visitors. The company is proposing a multi-million dollar buyout of the earlier pledge.

The proposal, filed early this month, is expected for early March hearings, expedited at Charter’s urging so it can build the second HQ tower as the first goes up.

A South End high-rise fight

The South End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone is in a pitched fight with BLT over a proposal to build high-density housing on a block between Woodland Avenue and Walter Wheeler Drive.

Half of the block, often the called the B&S Carting site for the trash hauler long located there, is in the neighborhood’s Historic District, recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

The builder first needed a change to the city’s Master Plan to allow for higher-density housing on the historic section of the block, which the Planning Board granted early this year although it didn’t OK the density BLT first sought.

Still, the NRZ filed an appeal to the Board of Representatives, asking city Representatives to stall or kill the project by overturning the Planning Board approval.

The appeal this month turned into a legal fight over whether the NRZ garnered enough signatures for a hearing. City Representatives Monday verified the petition, saying there were enough signatures. Now the board will take up the merits of the appeal.

The board’s Land Use Committee is tentatively slated for that discussion on Feb. 27.

The committee would then grant a recommendation to the full board. A super majority vote from the 40-member board would be needed for a reversal.

barry.lytton@stamfordadvocate.com; 203-964-2263; @bglytton