"I really did struggle with this," said Commissioner James Kennelly, who joined with Sally Parker, Gerald Alessi, and Patricia Jacobson in voting last week against the application for seven lots on the Tuller Road property, a site off Fairfield Woods Road.
"I wish that it weren't seven lots, but seven lots meet our regulations," said TPZ Chairman Seth Baratz.
Several commissioners said they were concerned about adding to the traffic congestion that already plagues Fairfield Woods Road, particularly at the intersection with Morehouse Highway.
Baratz, however, said that for a small subdivision, that issue shouldn't enter into the decision.
"I get stuck in traffic there all the time," he said, "but traffic not a valid reason for denial."
Parker said she drives on Fairfield Woods regularly and finds "the traffic is very, very heavy. There's too much traffic on that road to overburden it more."
Other concerns were raised about the maintenance of the drainage system proposed for the subdivision, designed to reduce the water run-off from the property to homes on streets below it.
"I think the water issue has been well-analyzed," Commissioner Douglas Soutar said. A homeowner's association that would be charged with maintaining the system was a requirement of the inland wetlands permit for the subdivision, and could have been added as a condition to the TPZ approval.
Commissioner Anthony Calabrese said Tuller proposal was a "tough case." "Traffic is definitely going to be an issue," he said, "but based on everything I've read in our regulations, I don't see how you can't approve it."
The first application for the property called for eight lots on a road that came off Little Brook Road. The most recent application eliminated one lot, and access was via Tuller Road.
At a hearing on the revised application last month, some immediate neighbors of the project had supported it.
But other area residents remained opposed because of runoff and traffic that they felt would be generated by the new homes.