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Multifamily/Commercial Complex Proposed For Exit 10 Area

Published: December 15, 2017

A Trumbull firm is proposing construction of a mixed-use complex for a 35-acre site at 79 Church Hill Road, which would include 224 rental apartments in six multistory buildings, as well as two commercial buildings, which would hold retail uses at the ground level and offices on their second stories.

Applicant 79 Church Hill Road, LLC, submitted applications on December 11 to the Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) and to the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) for the project known as Hunters Ridge.

Past proposals to develop the site have been controversial, drawing strong objections from nearby residents. A 2015 proposal to develop the site was rejected by the town.

The IWC is expected to hold a public hearing on the project at its January 10 session. The applicant is seeking a wetlands/watercourses protection permit from the IWC.

Members of the IWC also serve as the town’s Aquifer Protection Agency (APA). Because a section of the site lying alongside Walnut Tree Hill Road is within the town’s Aquifer Protection District (APD), the APA will review the environmental protection aspects of the project in making an aquifer protection recommendation to the P&Z.

The applicant is seeking a change of zone and a special permit from the P&Z. That change of zone would convert the site’s zoning designation from Business Professional Office (BPO) to Incentive Housing-10 (IH-10).

The P&Z created IH-10 zoning in early 2015 as an overlay zone, through which developers may gain approval to build high-density multifamily complexes, provided that at least 20 percent of the dwellings are designated as affordable housing units, which are either rented as apartments or sold as condominiums, at prices much lower than market prices, provided that tenants or owners meet certain income guidelines. Under the Hunters Ridge proposal, there would be 45 apartments designated as affordable housing.

IH-10 zoning also allows such complexes to have a commercial component, making for a mixed-use development.

Through its special permit review, the P&Z has much leverage in controlling the specifics of a development design.

The last IH-10 mixed-use project approved by the by the P&Z is a multifamily complex off Covered Bridge Road in Hawleyville that includes 180 rental apartments that are now under construction. That project also has approvals to build a diner and a church.

The applicant’s December 11 submission to the P&Z for 79 Church Hill Road did not include a traffic study, which is required for such a project. A traffic study is expected to be submitted soon, according to the Land Use Agency.

The Hunters Ridge proposal also would require approvals from the Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) because such a densely developed project would require municipal sanitary sewer service. Fred Hurley, town public works director, said December 13 he expects the WSA to begin its Hunter Ridge review process in January. The WSA would need to expand the size of the central sewer district and also reserve sufficient sewage treatment capacity for the project at the Commerce Road sewage treatment plant.

The 35-acre parcel is owned by Carmine Renzulli of Norwalk. The developer would purchase that land if all required development approvals are received. The site is roughly triangular in shape, with a small section of the parcel having frontage on Church Hill Road.

The largely undeveloped site is bounded on the south by Church Hill Road, on the east by Walnut Tree Hill Road, on the north by seven properties along Evergreen Road, and on the west by westbound I-84 and its Exit 10 interchange ramps.

In April 2015, WSA members unanimously rejected 79 Church Hill Road, LLC’s controversial request for sanitary sewer service for its then-proposed multifamily project for the site. Although the firm never actually specified the number of dwellings it was then proposing, the firm’s sewer gallonage request reflected sewer service for about 350 dwellings.

The developer’s reluctance to state in its past sewer application how many dwellings it wanted to build caused concern among town officials. The 2015 proposal to build a large multifamily complex at the site drew stiff opposition from some Walnut Tree Hill Road area residents who charged that the presence of such a project would pose environmental problems. They also raised construction density issues, saying that the southern section of Walnut Tree Hill Road already holds the adjacent 212-unit Walnut Tree Village age-restricted condominium complex.

 

Hunters Ridge
Granoff Architects of Greenwich submitted the voluminous plans for the Hunters Ridge project. James R. Swift of Shelton is listed as the project’s civil engineer. Sirjohn Papageorge is listed as 79 Church Hill Road, LLC’s, managing partner.

Drawings for the project indicate that the 224 rental apartments would include 116 one-bedroom units and 108 two-bedroom units, for a total of 332 bedrooms. There would be a total of 648 parking spaces provided, including 396 residential spaces, 170 spaces for the retail uses, and 82 spaces for the office uses. There would be nine six-vehicle garages for a total of 54 garaged vehicles, and three eight-vehicle carports for a total of 24 vehicles with carport access.

The two commercial buildings located at the southern end of the site would hold 55,360 square feet of commercial space. Those structures would have multiple gables and pitched roofs.

The six multistory residential buildings at the northeastern section of the property would be constructed on slopes, with three residential levels shown at their facades, and four levels at the rear, where there would be walkout basements. Four residential buildings would have 42 dwellings each, and the two smaller residential buildings would have 28 dwellings each. The multigabled structures with pitched roofs would have balconies.

Plans for the project indicate there would be four two-way driveways on Walnut Tree Hill Road for access to the site. Two of those driveways would provide access to the two commercial buildings. The southernmost driveway would be about 350 feet north of Walnut Tree Hill Road’s intersection with Church Hill Road.

Site development work would include 72,000 cubic yards of earthen cutting and 22,000 cubic yards of earthen filling to create the grades sought for the development project.

As amenities, the Hunters Ridge complex would have a clubhouse, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, playground, community gardens, and trails, among other features.

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