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Fourth Version of Riverwalk Submitted For Review

Published: January 29, 2018

Local builder/developer Michael Burton, doing business as Riverwalk Properties, LLC, has submitted for town land use review a fourth version of Riverwalk at Sandy Hook Village, which is now proposed as a 74-unit condominium complex on the west side of Washington Avenue in Sandy Hook Center.

Three previous versions of the multifamily project dating back to 2008, all of which have been approved by the town, have never been built.

The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has scheduled a public hearing on the developer’s requested modification to his special permit for 7:30 pm on Thursday, February 1, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.

The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) is scheduled to review the revised plans for the Riverwalk multifamily complex when it meets on February 14. That review is slated to occur at a “pubic meeting,” which will not be a “public hearing.” Mr Burton is seeking a modified wetlands/watercourses protection permit for the project.

In a report submitted with Mr Burton’s current wetlands application, his wetlands consultant, known as JMM Wetlands Consulting Services, LLC, writes, in part, “The modified proposal will not result in significant adverse indirect impacts to wetlands and watercourses.”

IWC members also serve as the town’s Aquifer Protection Agency (APA). In its APA role, the membership will determine whether the modified plans require any additional environmental review, in light of the site being within the Aquifer Protection District for the Pootatuck Aquifer. The APA makes environmental protection recommendations to the P&Z.

In January 2017, the P&Z approved the third version of Riverwalk, which involved rental apartments, not condominiums. But that version of the project later fell through and was not constructed. That version would have had 65 dwellings positioned at the 11.8-acre site extending from 10 through 22 Washington Avenue, adjacent to the Pootatuck River.

The latest version of Riverwalk increases that proposal by nine dwellings. Because the proposal is submitted under the terms of the Incentive Housing-10 (IH-10) overlay zone, 20 percent of the units, or 15 dwellings, would be designated as affordable housing and offered to the public at reduced prices. The other 59 dwellings would be offered to the public at market prices.

Initially approved by the P&Z as a 24-unit condominium complex in 2009, under the terms of the Affordable Housing Development (AHD) zoning regulations, that version of the project was never constructed.

In early 2015, the P&Z created the IH-10 zoning regulations, which allow higher residential construction densities, resulting in Mr Burton submitting development proposals with higher construction densities.
The currently proposed version of Riverwalk would be constructed in three phases, with construction lasting an estimated three to four years overall, depending on real estate market conditions, according to the project’s application.

The currently proposed complex would contain 11 residential buildings, representing more, smaller buildings than the version approved in January 2017. The complex would contain garages and carports, as well as conventional surface parking. Some dwellings would be townhouses and others would be flats.

A streetscape-grade sidewalk would be constructed during the second phase of the project. That sidewalk is intended to provide easy pedestrian access for condo complex residents to nearby Sandy Hook Center businesses.

The complex would be served by municipal sanitary sewer lines. Nowakowski, O’Bymachow, Kane & Associates of Shelton are the civil engineers for Riverwalk. The site has 671 feet of street frontage on Washington Avenue.

“I don’t think it’s anything drastically different” than the third version of the project, said George Benson, town planning director.

Fred Hurley, town public works director, noted the third version of Riverwalk received Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) approval for extending sewer service to 65 dwellings. If the developer gets P&Z approval for more than 65 dwellings, it would result in the WSA reviewing connecting sewers to 74 units.

At an August 2015 P&Z public hearing, differing viewpoints on the wisdom of constructing the then-proposed 65-unit multifamily project came into focus when members of the local business community voiced strong support for Riverwalk, but some Sandy Hook residents urged that the developer build significantly fewer than 65 dwellings, stating that 65 units would amount to the overdevelopment of the site and consequent traffic woes.

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