Zoning Commission Session 3/27/2019

Review at Public Hearing re: Rogallis LLC Application to build 11units

at 170 Oronoque Lane and 25 units at 1180 James Farm Road

Notes taken by Director Concerned Citizens Group

If errors of any kind in these notes, please forgive the taker. A complete list of the denial reasons are available on the town's public record.


Text Amendment/Site Review

Silhavey

Mentioned history of property: Not the first time this application has come before the Commission; Now a smaller number of units petitioned but still intense for the area. The Commission agreed years ago (before the number of wetlands were discovered on the property) but the developer did not act to build. The construction did not occur and the permit to build expired.


This area has a very active water table with wetlands—known and unknown---which is a major concern.


This new proposal is even a larger, more intense project.


Numerous issues are created by that such as:


The density-causes other issues that we need to discuss—access to houses coming from James Farm Road, for instance.

“This is not a country road,” said Silhavey. “ It is a two lane road with no shoulder, no second lane for passing.”


He continued, “Attorney Kubic’s video was very helpful in looking at traffic on JFR in real life, not in an abstract way, and it shows how difficult this area is to negotiate for cars, the amount of traffic, the mail boxes, the visual impairments, the flow in and out of a number of units that would cause disruption and safety issues. This MUST be addressed.”

Possible speed reduction bumps would need to be installed.

The turning radiuses of emergency vehicles is a huge concern.

We must be able to get to people in an emergency and this is very tight and does not look safe.


I have to ask, why are these overly dense applications that are submitted always in this area that cause unreasonable and extreme safety issues of all kinds?


The large numbers of vehicles that would be coming in and out of this small area when seconds and minutes matter if an emergency occurs, is a huge concern, as I believe it would put people in jeopardy.


Another issue is the environment. The slope of the land will mean water will flow down across James Farm Road and downhill into the environment and cause damage.


A newly discovered wetland by the soil scientist is another concern and it should be reviewed by the IWWC. How can we advance or determine how to advance without the testimony or examination of the Conservation Manager? I am convinced the construction will impact the wetland and this is a huge concern.


At this point he asked, “Does the need for Affordable Housing outweigh the project? Every one of these applications that we deny puts us into the ten percent needed in the town required by the state. Although the town has enough Affordable Housing, but those apartments are not counted by State and Federal Law due to when they were constructed.“


With the damage to the environment, the safety issues and the need for more information on this project, I think it is not worth the risk to approve it.


Henrick


We would need sewer and water in a neighborhood where others are serviced by wells and septic. These could be jeopardized. Proper sanitation is a concern.


I agree with the concerns mentioned about conservation and health by Mr. Silhavey. Henrick said, “They are grossly over developing a small piece of property where the traffic alone is a nightmare. More cars would not be good on this road and I think it is over development of that property. It doesn’t fit in the community, it is not a smart development and it would create health and safety hazards.”


Fredett


I agree with all of these comments.


Habansky


Recommendations to the Commission concerning the text amendment and zone changes are in my report submitted to the Commission. You must ask if these applications agree with the Conservation Plan of the town. Highlight the inconsistencies you find: as to the protection of the community’s character, the density of the development, the mixed use of this area, the distance from commercial access. It does not seem appropriate. There are no assets provided to people’s life styles, no bike trails, or walking trails. It is totally auto dependent. There is no public transportation and it is a brisk walk up hill out of this area to any amenities and the train station is a long way from this area. Also the wetland needs protection from this development and we need to protect the ground water.


VOTE ON TEXT AMENDMENT:

DENIED: 5 APPROVE: 0


Zone Change 170 Oronoque Lane


Henrick


I object for all the same reasons we just discussed. I cannot support this zone change.


Silhavey


I agree. One other item in health and safety that is a concern is the way the land is laid out. There are two ways in from the Merritt Parkway and James Farm Road and this will be interrupted by construction. Transit times will be changed and during an emergency, the Oronoque Fire Department will have a difficult time reaching other apartments and houses in the area such as Warner Hill. It will definitely be a liability for emergency vehicles to have to take more time to reach these areas.


Habansky


It is inconsistent with the town plan including concerns for health and public safety.


Silhavey


We must repeat and state that this zone change has all the same issues of inconsistencies with the town plan including access to transportation and it is an isolated area. It is inconsistent with the Town Conservation plan, which is to protect the environment and natural resources. Run off of the water will eventually go into Roosevelt Forest, this is not protecting the environment and this property has serious water table issues. There are safety and heavy traffic issues. Mr. Kubic’s video made this very clear. There is not enough distance for entrance and exit from the property and the site lines are not good.


VOTE:

DENY: 5 APPROVE: 0


Zone Change 1180 James Farm Road


Henrick


Regarding the development I’ve heard testimony from several expert sources about safety issues; about the fact that this development does not meet the code regarding emergency access; the drainage is a problem and the wetlands will be damaged. “It is a delicate balance in our wetlands.” When there is snow removal where is it going to go? This project is a threat to the wetlands and has safety issues. The limited emergency access, the site lines in and out of the property, which are are not sufficient and it is a busy road. A number of accidents on this road have been documented. The public will be put at risk. The lot lines are also an issue. Some are too close to the lines; emergency vehicles cannot get to the back of houses. This will all hamper public safety.”


“There is no side walk for pedestrians and where would kids walk? In the street? They would have to walk in the street at times to get around parked cars and this would also be unsafe.”


Sewer and water construction down James Farm Road creates serious safety concerns. There is no curb to allow cars to pull around construction or allow other cars to pass from one direction or another.


The run off from trenching would compromise wells and drinking water.


No yard or recreational area is provided for the people and children to play. Kubic’s videos show the traffic in this area would be dangerous. The development is too dense for the property and there would be difficulty to reach shopping areas. I cannot support it.


Silhavey


The STV Engineering firm analysis was convincing regarding number of feet for distance for entrances and exits regarding the traffic flow; the Stratford Police said it is a 25 mph zone that they tracked and monitored the traffic and the average speed on this road is 36.8 mph.


“There is no place for anyone to have recreational space. I remember when we asked about this during prior comments and the answer was that they could use the golf course. What? Are you kidding me?” he said.


Forcing people into this type of area is doing them a disservice. It is too dense. The site plan and zone change should be rejected. Regarding this project, the wetlands alone is a big missing piece on this application.


Habansky


The wetlands---This application needs to first be submitted to the IWWC, then to Zoning. Experts on Wetlands and Conservation have important requirements that must first be met. The Zoning Commission needs to state that this project requires a discussion with the Conservation Manager before any approval could take place.


Silhavey


I agree. IWWC must review any future applications for this property.


Henrick


Attorney S. Beliis, for Rogallis, used only the info he had---which was limited information. The opposition to this application focused on wetlands with experts. This is already part of public record. We need to be concerned based on the testimony we heard from experts in the field about the wetlands. The applicant was given a choice to find out more but chose not to follow up on research of the wetlands.


A plan cannot be approved that doesn’t address water flow and in addition we should mention that they are suggesting they will be removing walls that would prevent water flow to other areas.


DENY:

5 Approve: 0


The Commission’s position to deny is supported by the fact that the water flow, water table on this property, the storm water issues, drainage and the wetlands, along with the public safety concerns outweigh the need for Affordable Housing.