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Rochambeau Woods Update: Borough Zoners Approve 29-Unit Condo Complex

Published: February 14, 2017

Following review at a February 8 session, Borough Zoning Commission (BZC) members approved a special permit and a site development plan for Rochambeau Woods, a controversial planned 29-unit condominium complex for Mt Pleasant Road, near Taunton Lake.

BZC members unanimously approved the project in dual 4-0 votes, with Chairman Douglas Nelson, David Francis, Brid Craddock, and Michael Guman voting in favor of the plans for the 29-acre site at 41, 43, 45, and 47 Mt Pleasant Road.

Rochambeau Woods is the largest residential project approved for the borough in many years. Applicant Hunter Ridge, LLC, gained a wetlands/watercourses protection permit from the Inland Wetlands Commission last May. The BZC held public hearings on the application in November and December, drawing numerous complaints from nearby residents.

A representative of Hunter Ridge has said the project likely will be acquired and built by another development firm, possibly Toll Brothers, Inc. The approved plans comprise 29 individual closely spaced buildings, each containing one two-story residence.

In reviewing the Rochambeau Woods application, BZC members considered two checklists in making a series of findings on the dual applications for a site development plan and a special permit. In each of many cases, all four voting members decided in favor of the applications.

BZC members decided that the architectural design of Rochambeau Woods harmonizes with architecture in the neighborhood and protects property values in that area; the project poses no health or safety hazards to the area; the development plans conserve as much natural terrain and vegetation as possible through the use of a conservation easement; the project avoids excessive lighting and excessive noise problems; the site plans meet the intent and the spirit of the “residential open space development” (ROSD) zoning regulations that seek to maximize open space preservation at a site; the public utilities and stormwater drainage plans for the property are well designed; the streets and driveways at the site are suitable for their intended use; and the project conforms to the borough’s zoning regulations and other applicable regulations.

BZC members are requiring that the developer install fire hydrants at the site, as specified by the fire marshal. Also, a conservation easement, which will cover almost 70 percent of the site, will become part of the BZC’s approval. BZC members decided that the state Department of Transportation will determine exactly where the project’s entrance/exit will intersect with Mt Pleasant Road.

Additionally, BZC members decided that the project will not create traffic hazards on existing streets in the area, and that the project’s design is consistent with the town’s 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development, among other findings.

At the BZC’s two recent public hearings on the project, the plans drew criticism from nearby property owners, who charged that the complex’s presence would create various problems in the neighborhood, involving traffic, noise, decreased property values, and the prospect of raucous parties occurring near Taunton Lake.

The site has a long history as a location proposed for residential development. More than a decade ago, the property was proposed as the site for a 14-lot subdivision of single-family houses. A decade-long court case, which challenged the proposed subdivision on environmental grounds, eventually was resolved by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

That court decision set the stage for the condo complex application, which was submitted under the terms of the ROSD zoning regulations.

The ROSD rules seek to maximize the preservation of open space at a residential development site. Plans for the project would leave almost 70 percent of the site as undeveloped open space land, which is intended for use by the condo complex’s residents and their guests, but not the general public.

The 29 condos would be clustered in the area near Mt Pleasant Road. The site extends downhill to Taunton Lake, where the property has about 450 feet of lake frontage.

The complex would not have age restrictions for its residents, but would be open to people of all ages.

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