Plant Factory uprooted, but medical offices await court appeal

FAIRFIELD — It took several tries over the last few years, but the first signs of plans to construct a medical office building on the former Plant Factory property are evident with demolition of blighted structures on the upper Black Rock Turnpike site.

But don’t expect construction to start soon at the nearly 18-acre site at 4185 Black Rock Turnpike.

According to Paul Richter, a partner in New Way Associates, the site’s developer, work on the project is stalled while an appeal of an Inland Wetland Agency’s approval for the plan makes its way through Superior Court.

The appeal was filed last March by Black Rock Turnpike residents Alastair and Caroline Crawford. According to the suit, the Crawfords live within a 90-foot radius of the property, and they are disputing the inland wetlands decision that a permit issued to Fairfield Gateway LLC in 2012 for a prior application on the site was still in force, and a new permit was not needed.

The Crawfords’ suit states that changes to the proposed development “involved material changes;” that proper state statutes weren’t applied; that the commission lacked the authority to issue the decision, and the decision was not “reasonably based upon the record before the commission.”

Last October, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission approved a zone change from neighborhood design district and residential AAA for the property to designed commercial district for the 2.28 acres that front on Black Rock Turnpike, across from the Hi-Ho Motel. The remaining property remains residential.

Earlier proposals to develop the property, which were rejected, had included two office building, as well as a larger office building with a parking garage underneath.