For the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, a proposal to construct a medical office building on upper Park Avenue is not the right prescription for the neighborhood.

The commission Tuesday unanimously denied the application from St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport to build the structure on 2.4 acres between the Merritt Parkway and Notre Dame High School's football field. The proposal included a request to change the zone classification of the property from residential to designed commercial district.

"It is a residential area, it is a residential zone," TPZ Commissioner Richard Jacobs said, adding that the schools and nursing homes in the immediate neighborhood are allowed with special exception permits in a residential zone. To change the classification for only that lot to build the offices, he said, would be spot zoning.

The office building application drew vocal opposition from neighbors, but Commissioner James Kennelly said the denial "isn't really a case of just wanting to appease a particular neighborhood ... I think it is spot zoning."

Kennelly said he doesn't believe that real estate market conditions are such that the TPZ should decide that no one would want to build a residential home on the property, which would be permitted under the existing zone classification. "I don't think that is warranted," he said. "There's plenty of office space for medical use in town."

Vice Chairman Seth Baratz said the proposed building would be attractive, but a zone change would allow other commercial buildings to be constructed there if the St. Vincent's project does not go forward or closes in the future.

Looking at a map of the area, Commissioner Douglas Soutar said it is clear that the proposed site is "deep within a residential zone" and is more than a mile from another commercial zone.

"It would be an anomaly," he said. "Once a commercial zone is created, it's created for decades to come."

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