Elks Club subdivision plan faces more scrutiny
Updated 5:07 pm, Thursday, February 28, 2013
The latest review of the Fairfield Elks Club's plan to subdivide its Brookside Drive property this week produced assurances to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday that sight lines would be improved and there would be more than enough parking.
The TPZ on Tuesday continued its hearing on the two-lot subdivision from last month to specifically address the issues of sight lines and parking. The hearing was closed Tuesday night, although no vote was taken on the application for the two-acre property.
Peter Gelderman, the lawyer representing the Elks, said when the clubhouse was built in 1987, it was determined that 44 parking spaces were necessary to meet zoning regulations, but 59 spaces were provided.
"So they had extra parking there," Gelderman said. "Lot two will eliminate 11 spaces." Therefore, he said, if the subdivision is approved, the clubhouse will have 48 spaces -- four more than required.
"You said 44 spaces were needed then," Commissioner Richard Jacobs said. "How about today?"
Gelderman said it wouldn't make a difference. "If it didn't conform today, it would be irrelevant," he said, and added that the regulations for the club use of the property have not changed.
Assistant Zoning Director James Wendt confirmed that 44 parking spaces are needed for the Elks' clubhouse.
"Had this club been proposed to be built today, 44 would be the count," he said.
As for sight lines on the street, Gelderman said the grading for one of the lots would actually improve the perspective for drivers, which at the stop sign on Samp Mortar Road is already 285 feet.
"We don't know the landscaping," Commissioner Sally Parker said. "It seems it's a hazardous situation."
"This subdivision will lessen that hazard," Gelderman said. "It will improve the sight lines, not make them worse."
Brookside Drive resident Gwen Beaver questioned the traffic safety of the proposed subdivision, however.
"If you look at police reports for accidents, I think they would be significant," she said. "I don't know the numbers. It's a real hazardous area."
She also asked what the two new homes proposed for the subdivision would look like. "This is an old neighborhood," she said. "There's another subdivision on Pansy and Brookside Drive. It really has, I think, brought down the quality of homes in the area."
TPZ Chairman Bryan LeClerc said the commission has no control over the type of homes built in the subdivision.
Gwen Beaver's husband, Edgar Beaver, said when driving down Samp Mortar from Black Rock Turnpike, "you can't stop at this stop sign safely and turn left. You can't get far enough along to get over the hill and see who is coming up the hill."
Samp Mortar Road is a divided street, with one-way traffic in each direction.
"While it's not a perfect situation now, and probably won't be a perfect situation later, it will be better if the lot is developed," Gelderman told the TPZ.
The proposed development would help the Elks Club raise money for its charitable endeavors and defray maintenance costs for the group's 5,461-square-foot clubhouse.
The club, which
has fewer than 200 members, also fell behind on its property tax payments.
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