P&Z minutes of 10/26/04
PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION
October 26, 2004
Present: Michael Autuori
John Katz, Chairman
Rebecca Mucchetti, Vice Chair
Also Present: Betty Brosius, Inland Wetland Agent
Mr. Baldelli, Zoning Enforcement Officer
At ---9:23 PM Chairman Katz called the meeting to order.
1. #2004-085-REZ-A-SPA-SR; Applications under Sec. 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes for the following: (1) petition for amendment to the Ridgefield Zoning Regulations to add a “Housing Opportunity Development” (“HOD”) district, (2) rezone application for 3.675 acres from B-2 (Light Industry) to Housing Opportunity Development (“HOD”) district, (3) amendment to Ridgefield Plan of Conservation and Development and (4) site plan approval application to construct 50 two-bedroom condominium dwelling units located in two buildings on 3.675 acres. Property located at 619 Danbury Road (currently Red Lion Restaurant) in the B-2 zone. Appl.: Terrar, LLC . Owner: Regional Enterprises, Inc., Anthony D’Alto, President. Auth. Agents: Kevin Bartlett and Joseph P. Williams, Esq. Public hearing closed 10/19/04. 65-day action period ends 12/23/04.For action.
Chairman Katz started the discussion by reading the following statement that he had prepared that reviewed important points that were made during the public hearings.
Attorney Ranelli, asked to come up with an 8-30g we had approved in face of a level of service “F” traffic generation cited Valeri……then said, on challenge from a Commissioner, that it was, in fact, an approval as opposed to a stipulation. This is not accurate.1. Valeri was to generate 11 am peak hour trips and 10 pm trips. The proposed project is to generate 31 trips in the am and 37 trips in the pm.
The facts are that on 7/29/03 we DID “Resolve to approve….” However, as our approval clearly states, we did so “…in recognition of a court stipulated agreement, acting under the requirements of CGS 8-30g.” We did NOT say, as we usually do, that we approved it because it complies with our regulations and that it will not exert a detrimental effect of the district or the surrounding neighborhood…..which most of us clearly thought it would.
Regarding the “Level of Service F” discussion:
2. The Valeri report clearly states that it should be noted that all area traffic at site has “alternative routes to by-pass the Rt 35/Gilbert intersection.” No such alternatives are available at the subject site.
3. The Valeri driveway was projected to operate at level of service B, both am and pm peak periods….not level of service “F”, as projected in the proposal before us.
4. The Valeri intersection and roadway 500 feet to either side is NOT listed as a SLOSS (Suggested List Of Surveillance Sites by the State of Connecticut) area. It generated 16 accidents over the studied 3 year period, statistically within the “it doesn’t count” figure. Conversely, the subject site generated 58 or 66 accidents within the study period – depending on which statistic traffic studies you read – either 385% or 440% greater than the statistical threshold for surveillance, take your pick.
5. Review of both the States’ TASR (Traffic Accident Surveillance Report) and the SLOSS indicates that the state DOT does NOT see the Valeri site area as in need of immediate accident reduction nor roadway safety improvements. This is distinctly and statedly NOT the case at the subject site.
Facts regarding the tree we’d like to save:
Efforts to save the specific tree go back to 1972, when a 30,000 square foot addition was proposed for the site and the tree was preserved. Additional approvals or applications in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1993, and 1997. All applications and/or approvals respected that tree, as it still stands.
Chairman Katz concluded by saying that all the facts were not given.
Dr. Gelfman motioned to reject the petition for amendment to the Ridgefield Zoning Regulations to add a “Housing Opportunity Development” (“HOD”) district and to have the Director of Planning draft a Resolution of Denial to come back to the Commission. This was seconded by Dr. Autuori.
Dr. Gelfman said his reasons for denial are because the testimony from the public clearly says that they don’t want the HOD regulation to be available for other locations on Danbury Road, and that the amendment is not necessary for a 8-30G development.
Dr. Autuori said he is voting for denial because of the significant safety issues that would be created with such a dense residential housing district. The density is excessive.
Mrs. Willis said that the applicant did not acknowledge our procedure and how the Commission works, specifically, the procedure under Sec. 824 (for site Plan Approval) and the preference for Special Permit review. This amendment would leave us no protection for future applications.
Upon discussion, Mr. Coyle agreed that he will not participate in the voting in this application until he has heard all the public hearing tapes.
The vote was 8-0-1, in favor, with Mr. Coyle abstaining.
Dr. Gelfman motioned to reject the rezone application for 3.675 acres from B-2 (Light Industry) to Housing Opportunity Development (“HOD”) district and to have the Director of Planning draft a Resolution of Denial to come back to the Commission. This was seconded by Mr. Slavin 2. #2004-100-R-PR; re-subdivision application for 16.313 acres of land located in the RAA zone at 845 North Salem Road. Owners/Appls.: Thomas A. and Virginia R. Dawes. Auth. Agent: Robert R. Jewell, Esq. Received July 27, 2004. Public hearing closed 10/26/04. 65-day action period ends 12/30/04. For action.
The vote was 8-0-1, in favor, with Mr. Coyle abstaining.
Dr. Autuori motioned to reject the amendment to Ridgefield Plan of Conservation and Development and to have the Director of Planning draft a Resolution of Denial to come back to the Commission. This was seconded by Mr. Slavin
The vote was 8-0-1, in favor, with Mr. Coyle abstaining.
Dr. Autuori motioned to reject the site plan approval application to construct 50 two-bedroom condominium dwelling units located in two buildings on 3.675 acres and to have the Director of Planning draft a Resolution of Denial to come back to the Commission. This was seconded by Mr. Slavin
Dr. Autuori said that during the public hearings, the applicant kept referring to information given during the previous application. The previous application was denied primarily because of the Rte. 7 traffic safety issues. This application has more units, therefore more residents, including more children than the previous application. The safety issue is Dr. Autuori’s primary reason for denial.
Dr. Gelfman said the Stone House Commons residents described the difficulties they have with the traffic issues and how they would not recommend this area as a good place for children. The lack of playground and safe areas for children concerns Dr. Gelfman. Also, he is taking into consideration the comments from the Architectural Advisory Committee about fire egress and the safety concerns they cited. Also, the northbound traffic on Rte, 7 would have to turn left crossing 2 lanes of southbound lanes in order to enter the site. The southbound flow would have to stop for this, causing safety issues.
Mr. McChesney did not like the applicant’s insensitivity to having any input from the Architectural Advisory Committee, and their complete disregard of the Commission’s comments about saving the tree.
Mrs. Willis said the applicant made no effort to talk with the adjacent property owners to work out the bus access and egress, or to cooperate by discussing the safety issues for school children with Stone House Commons.
Mr. Walsh said he agrees with the comments made so far and then read regulation 8-30g – (g)(1)(A) to the Commission. He concluded by saying that the public interest and public safety clearly outweighs the need for public affordable housing as presented in this application.
Chairman Katz said that regulation 8-30g was not intended primarily to serve the benefit of the developer, and this is a perfect example of an application that does. It serves the developer only. He is not happy with the fact that the applicant was not willing to accept any of the Commission’s suggestions or concerns.
Ms. Mucchetti agreed with Mr. Katz, saying that at every turn the applicant would not consider or even try to address the architectural concerns or safety concerns. She does not believe this is a good faith application.
Mrs. Willis said the applicant never followed through with the housing authority, or made a phone call to Stone House Commons. Chairman Katz added that such items as curb cuts, internal traffic circulation, and play areas (their term “playscape”) were never suitably resolved. They were not going to address the play area, if it weren’t for the public outcry, and even with that, they said it was not an amenity that they had planned.
Chairman Katz said that no amount of conditions would eliminate our safety concerns.
The vote was 8-0-1, in favor, with Mr. Coyle abstaining.
Dr. Autuori motioned to table the item, seconded by Mr. Walsh. The vote was 9-0, all in favor.3. #2004-114-A; Amendment to the Ridgefield Zoning Regulations re temporary signs. Commission initiated. For action.
Ms. Brosius recommended that by approving the amendment as is, non residential uses in residential zones would be able to place their signs on their own property withoutpermits, with time limitations. As of October 31st all organizations will be in violation and Mr. Baldelli, Zoning Enforcement Officer, will have to act upon this. By passing the amendment tonight, at least we can provide some help to the non-profits, and then work to find solutions for the other community organizations and businesses.
Dr. Autuori motioned to adopt the amendment to the Ridgefield Zoning Regulations re temporary signs, seconded by Mrs. Willis.
There was discussion about what else could be included in this amendment. Ms. Brosius advised what could be part of an amendment and what would require a new regulation. Other regulations could be written protecting the non-profits, such as putting a community sign board on library property. There was a discussion as to where on library property this could be placed.
Chairman Katz put to the Commissioners do we go with the amendment tonight because it offers some amelioration as it is, or do we wait and work on it until we come up with an amendment detailing all the aspects that need to be considered here?
Dr. Gelfman said he would prefer to table the item so there is time to work on the amendment.
Ms. Brosius reminded that this is not entirely the Commission’s responsibility to take care of this problem. The Chamber of Commerce and the community need to participate and get involved.
Ms. Mucchetti said passing the amendment as is tonight would help Keeler Tavern, the Aldrich Museum, the schools, and the library. It also would make it easier for Mr. Baldelli to enforce the regulations against the businesses in a fair and forthright way. However, we can not allow the non-profits to be exempt from regulations that prohibit putting their signs on library property.4. F. A. R. c/o P & Z sub-committee. Tabled 09/21/04 and 09/28/04.For discussion.
Mr. Slavin asked if extending the deadline beyind October 31st was an option, in order to give us more time? Ms. Brosius answered that doing that would mean going against our own regulations because we would be reversing the directive given by the Commission months ago. We must enforce our regulations; we can’t partially enforce our regulations. She also told the Commission that our town lawyer and risk manager are greatly concerned about liability. We need to proceed.
Chairman Katz agreed that there is no going back with this. A Chamber of Commerce and Town initiative needs to be taken.
Mr. Slavin said he yields to Ms. Brosius and Mr. Baldelli, as they are the ones who have to face this issue everyday.
The vote was 8-1, with Dr. Gelfman voting against.
Dr. Autuori motioned, seconded by Mr. Slavin to table the discussion due to the late hour. The vote was 9-0, all in favor. Mr. Walsh asked for assurance that this item will not be tabled again, since it keeps getting put off.
5. #2004-129-REV; Revision to Special Permit to change 1st and 2nd floor plans, on property located at 35 Copps Hill Road in the B-3 (General Business and Industry) zone. Owner: 35 Copps Hill LLC. Appl.: Donald Sturges. Received 10/12/04, walked 10/17/04.Tabled 10/19/04. 65-day action period ends 12/16/04.For action.
Atty. Jewel explained that after the approval of this application, the applicant learned that there is a greater need for 1 bedroom apartments than 2 bedrooms in Ridgefield, as was originally planned. The redesign now reflects 5 one bedroom units, rental office space, and more classroom space that would accommodate 16 more children. Forty-two parking spaces were originally approved; 12 to 15 of those spaces would be for daytime staff. Mr. Sturges, applicant, said there is no need to ask for additional parking spaces.NEW ITEMS
The breakdown for parking, using formulas to the best of their ability, is: 15 spaces for childcare, 15 for staff, leaving about 12 available spaces for the office space and apartments. Five one-bedroom apartments require 7.5 spaces and 2,000 s.f. of the office requires 7 spaces. This is a deficit of about 3 spaces if the daycare requirements are accurate.
Dr. Gelfman was concerned about the parking if, at some future time, there were medical offices in the building. Mr. Sturges is willing to comply with a condition of approval that if there were ever to be medical offices, he would come back to the Commission with an application.
Michael Galente, of Frederick Clark Associates presented a new traffic study. The expansion of office space and student enrollment would add 15 trips at morning peak and 15 trips at afternoon peak.
Ms. Mucchetti asked Mr. Doug McMillan, architect, about the state regulation requirement of certain square footage per child, now that the daycare space has been altered. Mr. McMillan explained that the revision conforms to the regulations and that it is code compliant. These changes were made by the request of the tenant. It was noted that the Fire Marshall has yet to review the new plans.
Chairman Katz asked the Commission to think about whether this version is something we would have approved if it had been presented to us originally. He thinks he would have. There was a discussion about whether the application should go back to a public hearing. There is enormous concern about scope creep, and that the applicant (any applicant) has to build what is approved or come back to the Commission asking for modifications to a Special Permit. This application affects more than the building; it also increases traffic which is already intense due to the Stop and Shop parking lot across the street.
Dr. Autuori motioned, seconded by Mrs. Willis, to take this revision to a public hearing.
Mr. Walsh said that the size of the building has not changed, so he does not see the need for a public hearing. He also noted that at the final public hearing no one from the public was in attendance.
Mr. McChesney agreed saying that the parking allotment is ok and feels we have listened enough to the public on this application.
Dr. Gelfman said we don’t want to hold up the daycare operation, but he would like to discuss the new apartment configuration separately.
Chairman Katz concluded for himself, that while traffic will increase, high volume is already there, and he does not see how it will negatively impact the area. We have already heard from the public; we do know their thoughts on this, so Mr. Katz does not see the need for another public hearing.
The vote to schedule a public hearing was 1-7-1, with Dr. Autuori voting for a public hearing, Mr. McChesney, Dr. Gelfman, Mr. Slavin, Mrs. Willis, Ms. Mucchetti, Mr. Walsh, and Chairman Katz voting against, and Mr. Coyle abstaining.
Dr. Gelfman motioned to have the Director of Planning draft a Resolution of Approval to the revisions of the Special Permit with the conditions that there will be no medical offices, and no further expansion. The draft resolution is to come back to the Commission for final decision.
The vote was 5-3-1 with Dr. Gelfman, Mr. Slavin, Ms. Mucchetti, Mr. Walsh, and Chairman Katz voting in favor, Dr. Autuori voting against, and Mr. Coyle, Mrs. Willis, and Mr. McChesney abstaining.
6. #2004-138-REV; revision to Special Permit to permit construction of a wellhouse on the east side of the Ridgefield Historical Society headquarters building located in the B-2 zone at 4 Sunset Lane. Appl.: David Scott. Owner: Town of Ridgefield. For receipt and schedule walk (if necessary). 65-day action period ends 12/30/04.
Dr. Autuori motioned to have the Director of Planning write a Resolution of Approval for the revision to the Special Permit and not have it come back to the Commission. This was seconded by Mr. McChesney. The vote was 9-0, all in favor.7. #2004-140-ACC-BC; accessway in conjunction with a lot line revision. Property located at 55 & 57 Silver Hill Road in the RAA zone. Owners/Appls.: Norvel Hermanovski and R. Fay Zinger. For receipt and schedule walk. 65-day action period ends 12/30/04.
Mr. McChesney asked Ms. Brosius to suggest to the Ridgefield Historical Society to plant more bushes by the air conditioning unit and/or to paint the unit red so it does not stand out as much as it does now.
Mrs. Willis wanted to make note that she walked the site; as there was not a scheduled walk for this item.
Mr. Slavin moved to acknowledge receipt of the application, seconded by Mr. Walsh, and to schedule a walk for November 7. 2004.COMMISSION WALKS
The vote was 9-0, all in favor.
· #2004-140-ACC-BC; 55 & 57 Silver Hill Road; Hermanovski/Zinger.
REQUESTS FOR BOND RELEASES/REDUCTION
There were no requests for Bond Release/Reductions.
· October 21, 2004 letter from Martha Campbell re Ridgefield High School Lighting
Dr. Autuori said he feels most of the exterior lighting on the Ridgefield schools are too bright, so he is concerned about the phrase “meaningful beacons” used in the letter. Chairman Katz said he feels the driveway is well lit and the entrance is clear. September 28, 2004 Jaffe Holden Acoustics
Chairman Katz said the Kadagian’s are remaining pleasant, but they are pursuing their legal options. It is for the Commission to remain neutral on this.
For approval: October 12, 2004
Ms. Mucchetti moved approval with amendments, seconded by Mrs. Willis. The vote was 9-0, all in favor.
For distribution: October 19, 2004 The Minutes were distributed.
Hearing no further discussion, Chairman Katz adjourned the meeting at 11:18 PM.