Beach Road development hearing ends after weeks of testimony
FAIRFIELD — After several meetings, the public hearings on an apartment complex for Beach Road have come to a close.
In a meeting of the town’s Plan and Zoning Commission Tuesday night, developers pushed back against assertions from the Old Post Road Area Association and lawyers representing it that the development would irrepressibly damage the character and safety of the area.
Glenn Tatangelo, the developer for the project, said the location was the perfect transition between a substantial commercial area and a residential area.
“Plus, we have an incredible existing natural screening of mature trees buffering our building, the street and abutting residential area,” Tatangelo said, adding that having a portion of the apartments set aside as affordable would satisfy a local need.
The proposal would see a 40-unit development on 131 Beach Road — a .65 acre lot that currently hosts a Masonic temple. The property abuts a historic district.
Christopher Smith, the attorney for the developer, said 12 units would be affordable housing.
In a meeting this summer, Smith said the development was filed under the state’s affordable housing statute. A state regulation, 8-30g, allows developers of affordable housing to bypass municipal laws and regulations in order to get such housing into communities with fewer affordable units than the state recommends — about 10 percent. Smith said 2.43 percent of the town’s housing was considered affordable in 2019.
But there is broad opposition to the proposal, and a petition created by the Old Post Road Area Association requesting the developer scale down the project had more than 1,500 signatures as of Thursday afternoon. There have also been letters of opposition submitted to Hearst Connecticut Media publications.
In addition to the scale of the project, residents have said they are concerned about the impact the development would have on traffic, if approved. In a meeting last month, Michael Galante, who conducted the traffic study for the developer, said the complex would generate an estimated 218 car trips in or out of the property on an average weekday.
The study, conducted in January, showed Beach Road east of the Post Road to have a combined total of 1,466 vehicles traveling on it during peak morning and afternoon hours. It also showed the road has had a total of five accidents in the past three years.
Tatangelo said his team specifically included architectural design elements found throughout the historic district. He also disagreed with comments about the lack of amenities in the proposal.
“Our existing amenities are right outside the front door,” Tatangelo said. “Within minutes of this property, you can walk or ride a bike to the train, over 30 restaurants, unlimited shopping, a YMCA, library and town beach.”
Regarding scaling back the project to a two-story, entirely affordable complex, as lawyers for neighbors have suggested, Tatangelo said the notion was ridiculous and would not work for any business model. He also took issue with letters to the editor sent to local publications, one of which said the proposed building would be visable by every building on the Old Post Road.
“That’s just ridiculous. It’s false. It’s deceptive. It’s inaccurate,” Tatangelo said.