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Wetlands Review Slated For Riverwalk Proposal

Published: February 10, 2018

Andrew Gorosko

    The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) is scheduled to consider a local builder/developer’s request for a modified wetlands/watercourses protection permit next week, when it reviews The Riverwalk at Sandy Hook Village, a proposed 74-unit condominium complex on the west side of Washington Avenue in Sandy Hook Center, near the Pootatuck River.

    The IWC public meeting is slated for 7:30 pm on Wednesday, February 14, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.

    The development plans represent the fourth version of the Riverwalk project from Michael Burton, Sr, doing business as Riverwalk Properties, LLC.

    The town has approved three previous versions of the project, none of which have ever been constructed. Mr Burton proposed the initial version of the project in 2008. The 11.8-acre development site is at #10 through #22 Washington Avenue.

    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 would, if requested by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), further review aquifer protection aspects of the modified development proposal, in light of the site lying within the Aquifer Protection District for the Pootatuck Aquifer.

    Basically, the current version of Riverwalk increases from 65 to 74 the overall number of dwellings proposed for the site. Because the project is proposed under the terms of the Incentive Housing-10 (IH-10) zoning regulations, the proposed number of affordable housing units there would increase from 13 to 15. The 15 affordable housing units would be sold at significantly lower prices than the 59 market-rate units.

    P&Z Review

    At a February 1 session, the P&Z held a public hearing on the developer’s application for a modified special zoning permit.

    Architect Kevin Bennett, of Bennett Sullivan Associates, Inc, representing the applicant, told P&Z members, “This project has gone through a few different configurations.”

    The project would be built in three phases, based on the availability of bank financing for construction to continue. The project may include townhouses to be sold as condos, and flats within larger buildings that would be rented out. There would be total of 11 buildings. A streetscape-grade sidewalk would be constructed during the second construction phase of the project. The sidewalk is intended to provide easy pedestrian access for Riverwalk residents to nearby Sandy Hook Center businesses.

    Mr Burton said he is confident that after Phase One of the complex is built, the construction would continue.

    “I’d like to see this [project] built, frankly,” said P&Z Chairman Don Mitchell.

    Riverwalk is a project that would serve the needs of younger adults, and also be suitable for older adults, who are downsizing their quarters, Mr Burton said.
    Civil engineer Alan Shepard of Nowakowski, O’Bymachow, Kane & Associates of Shelton, representing the applicant, told P&Z members that he would provide technical information, including new data on motorists’ sight lines and on stormwater drainage control.

    The plans presented to the P&Z are similar to previous plans, but required technical modifications will be provided, Mr Shepard said.

    “Our overall intent is to comply with all the regulations of the town,” he said.

    During the public comment section of the P&Z hearing, resident Chris Breault of 13 Washington Avenue said it is a “big deal” that the proposed number of dwellings is increasing from 65 to 74. “I think it’s really significant [going from] 65 to 74,” he said.

    Mr Breault noted that he was an observer when the P&Z approved the initial version of Riverwalk in 2009, which specified 24 condos. Zoning regulations approved by the P&Z in 2015 allowed Mr Burton to seek the current 74-unit version of the project.

    Mr Breault said he is concerned that the proposed Riverwalk project would contain many vacant dwellings. He asked whether the presence of a multifamily complex across the street from his house would increase his property’s value.

    P&Z members said they would resume the public hearing on Riverwalk on March 15.