Bronson Road housing proposal denied again
FAIRFIELD — The Town Plan and Zoning Commission was asked to reconsider part of a controversial affordable housing proposal. They did, but did not change their minds.
The zoning panel had denied the 8-30g application for a 95-unit building on lower Bronson Road near Interstate 95 in July 2014. Garden Homes, the developer, appealed that denial and the court remanded the application back to the TPZ earlier this year, instructing them to take another look at the access road. The single-access road into the development, with no turnaround, was one of the reasons for the zoning panel’s denial, particularly because of concerns about fire truck access.
According to the lengthy reasons for the latest denial, the TPZ said the court advised “the applicants should submit to the commission a fully-engineered site plan indicating the provision of the turning radii necessary to allow these and other larger vehicles to turn around and exit the site with minimal reverse travel, both via the elimination of four parking spaces and three units, as proposed, and by alternate means.”
The revised application submitted by Garden Homes reduced the number of units to 91, eliminated four parking spaces, and added three handicapped parking spaces and a fire lane. The plan called for a two-foot reinforced shoulder along the driveway. There was no turnaround provided, and at the May 24 hearing, the applicant argued the access drive met the state fire code.
The commission voted unanimously to deny the revised plans.
“It goes back to the court now,” said Town Attorney Stanton Lesser. “I believe the judge still has jurisdiction over this.”
Lesser said both sides will probably file more briefs in the case, and make further arguments, “and the judge will make a decision and that will probably dispose of the case, as far as the Superior Court goes.”
The commission could decide, Lesser said, to petition the Appellate Court should the TPZ denial be overturned.
“I think that remains to be determined,” he said.
According to the TPZ decision, there is “substantial evidence” to support its finding that the revised plan does not support and protect the public’s health and safety.
“We have looked at this from many different perspectives, and we must conclude that the revised plan creates substantial issues of public health and safety. Just as the fire department explained even without any complicating factors, such as winter weather when snow is piled up in banks along the side of the access way and around the parking areas,” the commission’s decision states. “Neither does the plan ‘provide the ability of fire trucks to enter and turn around in the parking lot’ sufficient to ameliorate the issues of public health and safety outlined in the record. To a lesser extent, these same issues are presented with respect to moving and large delivery trucks.”
The commission said while a revised plan was submitted, no alternatives were presented by the applicant.
“As the court recognized, this site has severe limitations, and certain mechanisms that we might envision to accommodate the substantial issues of public health and safety are not feasible,” the commission said. “Therefore, there are no reasonable alternatives that we can offer.”