Seymour seeks to develop Rte. 34/Roosevelt Drive

March 22, 2019

SEYMOUR-Town residents got their first look at possible zoning changes that would allow more development along Route 34/Roosevelt Drive and increase the possibility for multi-housing units throughout the town.

Residents were split on the proposals offered by Bryan Nesteriak, the town engineer, which would update the zoning regulations along Roosevelt Drive which is also Route 34 and reduce requirements multi-family housing.

Julie Nintzel, Garrett Griffin, an owner of Griffin Brothers Excavation and Jessie Judson, a land surveyor, all of whom reside in Seymour believe more development is needed especially along Roosevelt Drive/Route 34. This is a two-lane state road that handles about 11,000 vehicles many of which are traveling between Danbury and New Haven. It also is bordered by the Housatonic River on one side and often large hills on the other.

“I’m dismayed how little anything’s been developed in the 14 years I’ve been here,” said Julie Nintzel of Briarwood Drive. “This town has to do something.

On adjacent Derby’s section of Roosevelt Drive, Bad Sons Brewery and the soon-to-be constructed fuel cell plant are providing tax revenue.

However others like Barbara Nimons and Lauren Chirgwin, both of whom own homes on Squantuck Road believe the road is already congested with traffic.

.She said to put any more housing units in would require the road be widened from its current two lanes. Nimons suggested a traffic study be done before any development occurs.

“It is a very hazardous road,” Nimons said. “There are trucks from Danbury to New Haven constantly. The traffic is horrendous.”

Joseph Ziehl, the commission chairman said they can require a traffic study for any proposal.

“Traffic is a double blade sword,” said Nesteriak. “The traffic is the reason we want more development down there. The traffic is also the reason we want responsible development there.”

Ziehl continued the public hearing to April 18 at 7 p.m. in town hall and urged more residents to come.

“The more input we get the more thought goes into this,” he said. “We are trying to come up with good changes that satisfy the residents.”

Nesteriak began the hearing by discussing his proposed changes which are the first in a decade.

At this time the RC3 zone does not allow apartments, retail, churches, computer services, schools and storage centers. Further he said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection probably would not allow any development that uses hazardous waste in the aquaphor protection zone on Roosevelt Drive.

“The overall intention of this change for the RC3 zone is to try to encourage a little more commercial development in that area,” he said. “That could be retail, that could be offices, that could be multi-family housing but some sort of commercial development because it is a large traffic corridor...”

As for multi-family developments Nesteriak said those are “a win-win financially” for towns “because there is “an increase in tax revenue, no maintenance cost to the towns...everything is taken care of by the multi-family development and historically there is a low percentage of children that live in these multi-family developments.”

Judson, a resident who runs a land surveying business on Main Street, told the commission he thought the zoning regulations on Roosevelt Drive were “too restrictive.”

However, he suggested the commission also revise zone boundaries. For instance he said the RC3 zone on Roosevelt Drive also extends to Squantuck and Dolan Roads which are residential areas with smaller lots that are not conducive to commercial development.

Bill Ferris, who owns property at Bank Street abutting Woodside Avenue, voiced concerns over reducing interior roads in multi-housing sites from 24 feet to 20 feet.

He said this would put the road width about the size of two parking places.

“That is woefully inadequate,” Ferris said. “Twenty feet doesn’t end up being 20 feet” with two people walking on the road or snow piling up on the side.

“Twenty-four feet wide road is a matter or public safety,” he said.