Developer modifies plan and resubmits Seaside Avenue housing proposal

Rather than filing an appeal, the developer of a proposed nine-unit housing complex with three affordable units at 214-224 Seaside Avenue has resubmitted the plans with changes intended to mollify concerns regarding driveway sightlines.
The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) unanimously denied the application for the project at its April 5 meeting, saying the sightlines for the proposed driveway at 224 Seaside Avenue were insufficient for the speed of vehicles on Seaside Avenue.

Jeffrey Gordon, landscape architect, site planner, and president of Codespoti & Associates, who made the presentation on behalf of property owner Eugenia Debowski, had initially indicated he planned to appeal the decision to Superior Court.

However, on April 22, Gordon indicated he submitted revised plans to the P&Z, which he said should address the sightline issue.

“Under the provisions of 8-30g, when a P&Z commission denies an application and states its reasons, the applicant, during the 15-day appeal period, may choose to resubmit a modified plan which answers such reasons, and stays the appeal clock,” wrote Gordon in an April 22 email.

Depending on the time needed for city agencies to review the revised application, Gordon said the updated plan could be presented at the May 17, or June 4 P&Z board meeting.

David Spear, traffic engineer for the applicant, presented speed counts at the March 15 public hearing, saying the northbound 85th percentile speed is 34 mph and the southbound speed is 33 mph. At 34 mph, the driveway at 224 Seaside Avenue needed a sightline to the north of 379 feet and had 360 feet. At 33 mph, the project needed 368 feet and had 320 feet.

In the revised plans, Gordon said he has made the existing driveway at 224 Seaside Avenue an emergency-only access. He reworked the plans for the garages and parking area to use the driveway at 214 Seaside Avenue for all daily traffic. That driveway is about 95 feet closer to Meadowside Road.

The new plan has a sightline to the north greater than the 368 feet required for the actual travel speed of 33 mph and a sightline of nearly 1,000 feet to the south, noted Gordon.

“We believe the P&Z ignored their own experts who indicated the sightline could be remedied. We believe the board relied on a commercial intersection standard when the CDOT [Connecticut Department of Transportation] manual identified our driveway as a residential driveway, with a lower sightline requirement,” wrote Gordon. “Our modified plan achieves the overreaching intersection sight distance standard. Thus the reason for denial is removed.”

During public hearings on March 1 and March 15, neighbors asked the board to deny the project, saying the traffic situation on Seaside Avenue is already challenging, and the project would only increase the problem.

At the March 15 public hearing, three traffic engineers and the Milford Police Department discussed traffic conditions on Seaside Avenue with a focus on the sightlines for the project driveway.

Two of the traffic engineers and the traffic sergeant reached the conclusion that there are no patterns of accidents in the area that would be attributed to the road’s design. The traffic engineers all agreed that if motorists were traveling in excess of the 25 mile per hour posted speed limit, then the original driveway sight lines were slightly inadequate.

The 0.46-acre property at 214 Seaside Avenue has a 2,100 square foot home constructed in 1947, while the 0.72-acre lot at 224 Seaside Avenue has an 1,800 square foot home constructed in 1900. The two properties total 1.18 acres.

The plans call for adding seven two-bedroom cottages to the rear of the existing properties at 214-224 Seaside Avenue. Gordon said each would be about 1,200 square feet and built around a center courtyard. The cottages would have sprinklers. The project would include 10 garage parking spaces and 12 surface parking spaces.

The plan was filed under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing law, which supersedes local zoning regulations. If the P&Z chooses to reject the revised plans, for the court to sustain the denial, the P&Z has to prove the project poses a hazard to public health, safety or welfare, a threat that outweighs the need for affordable housing.