Tuller School subdivision plan flunked by neighbors
While lawyers at a Town Plan and Zoning Commission hearing Tuesday debated the difference between a temporary turnaround and a cul-de-sac, residents living near the former Tuller School worried what seven new homes proposed for the property would do to their quality of life.
Christopher Cocco, Malgorzata Piekarski and Jack and Mary Lou Kasper have applied for approval to build an eight-lot residential subdivision on the 5-plus acre property that once was the site of the small private school. The plan has received approval from the Inland Wetlands Commission, although neighbors have challenged that action in court.
"My clients have provided a layout of lots that comply with your regulations," said Michael Bologna, the lawyer representing the applicants. "They have a right to subdivide their property. You have no discretion."
Consultants speaking on behalf of the applicants told the TPZ that a drainage system designed for the subdivision would ensure that water runoff on neighboring properties would actually decrease if the project is built, and that traffic from seven new homes -- an existing house on the land would remain -- would be minimal.
But neighbors on Marian and Little Brook roads said their streets are already packed with cars and pedestrians seven or eight months out of the year because of nearby Melville Park. They questioned the assertion that more vehicles at the new subdivision would have minimal impact.
The neighborhood, said Little Brook resident Susan Olsen, is now home to 13 children and eight senior citizens. "Traffic and safety are our two big concerns," she told TPZ. "The last time I checked, adding homes equals adding more cars. This would only increase the volume of traffic."
She said area residents support and enjoy having Melville Park in the neighborhood, "but it comes with a price," like difficulty getting out of driveways, mailboxes being hit by cars, and parked cars blocking mail delivery.
The subdivision proposal, Olsen said, is "overly aggressive." The neighbors' lawyer, Joel Green, argued that TPZ regulations do not allow a cul-de-sac, such as is proposed by the subdivision applicants, to serve more than 10 lots. He said the proposed cul-de-sac could potentially serve 13 homes.
But Bologna said the cul-de-sac would serve only eight or nine houses on a new extension of Little Brook. Homes on the other end of Little Brook are on a temporary turnaround that abuts the park and should not be counted in the calculation, he said.
Green argued that the regulations limit the number of houses on roads that do not have two-way access for safety purposes and that the end of Little Brook adjacent to the park was never meant as a "temporary turnaround." He contended there is no way town planners intended to extend the road through the park.
"This road is already overburdened with parked cars," Green said.
As for water runoff problems in the neighborhood, Olsen said it doesn't take much rain to cause flooding, and residents have spent thousands of dollars flood-proofing their homes. She questioned whether the subdivision drainage system, even if adequate, would be properly maintained.
Bologna said that maintenance issues could be resolved by having the subdivision residents form a neighborhood association.
Several neighbors also complained about the presence of wild animals on the property, such as coyotes, that they say the property owners have not addressed.
"I'm unaware of any obligation of a property owner to deal with wildlife on their property," Bologna said.