TPZ begins review of BRT medical complex
Updated 7:21 am, Thursday, October 27, 2011
A local development group wants to see two medical office building take root on the upper Black Rock Turnpike property that once was home to the Plant Factory.
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday began a public hearing on the application for 4185 Black Rock Turnpike, which includes a partial zone change for the 18-acre site. The hearing was continued to next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in McKinley School.
Though the public did not have a chance to speak at Tuesday's hearing, both opposition and support for the plan, in the form of emails and letters, already are on the record. And while some neighbors of property favor the proposal, opposition is not only close by, but also from residents on Southport Woods Drive and Bronson Road, according to the emails.
That was something addressed by John Fallon, the applicant's lawyer.
"To call this Greenfield Hill is inaccurate and misleading," Fallon said. "This is not Greenfield Hill. I live about a mile away on Burr Street ... I go to church in Greenfield Hill, I live in Greenfield Hill, I shop in Greenfield Hill. I know where Greenfield Hill is and this is not Greenfield Hill."
The property is adjacent to the Merritt Parkway's southbound entrance ramp at the Exit 44 junction, across the street from the Hi-Ho Motel and Barcelona restaurant. It is owned by New Way LLC, made up of Paul and Ted Dudic, Paul Richter, Pepsa Ventures (a Richter family trust) Allen Kosowsky and Richard McCauley. The applicant is listed as Fairfield Gateway LLC, which is Paul Richter and Eric Cook.
Fallon said the zone change seeks to extend the Neighborhood Designed Business District zone on a 2-acre slice of the property. The rest of the property would remain deed-restricted AAA residential. He said that requirement is laid out in a covenant agreement between the property owners and the Merritt Parkway Conservancy.
The two brick buildings proposed by the developers would be connected by a glass foyer. The building closest to the parkway would be two stories, the other would be one story, according to the application.
TPZ members had many questions for Michael Gallante, the traffic engineer for the project. Gallante said while motorists would experience a slight increase in delays because of the development, those delays were not significant, based on traffic engineering standards.
"From about 3:20 p.m. to 8 p.m., the no-exit zone traffic (on the parkway) is incredible," said Commissioner James Kennelly.
Traffic during peak rush hours is often backed up in both directions on Black Rock Turnpike, commission members said, blocking intersections.
Gallante said the medical office development is expected to add 82 cars to morning peak hours and 112 to the afternoon peak hours.
Commission member Richard Jacobs said that before the hearing ends he would like to see figures on already-existing office and medical space in town that is empty.
"That would probably be beneficial to my case," Fallon said, because he said there is very little vacant medical office space.
Fallon also said the property owners have been contacted regularly over the last four years from people interested in buying the site. He said it is attractive to developers because of its size, location on a state highway, and access to sanitary sewers and the bus line.
That, he said, makes it attractive to developers who might want to build an affordable housing development there. "I honestly believe as an attorney, you would not be able to stop them," he told the TPZ.