Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
PZC denies West Street development

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
May 26, 2006

VERNON - The Planning and Zoning Commission has unanimously rejected plans for an eight-unit age-restricted condominium development on West Street.

Citing concerns about the development's compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood, the commission last week rejected the proposal by West Street Development Co. LLC, which called for the construction of eight homes on a 2.88-acre lot near Peterson Road.

"The siting of eight units of age-restricted housing hinders the future sound development of the community by placing the units in close proximity to the Vernon Center Middle School, where the commission feels that 'sound development' should consist of residential development for families," Town Planner Neil S. Pade wrote in a letter Tuesday to West Street Development Co.

The PZC also was concerned about the architectural style of the proposed housing units and their close proximity to a nearby farm, Pade wrote.

It is not clear if West Street Development Co. officials will appeal the commission's decision. Attempts to reach the developer's lawyer, Dorian R. Famiglietti, for comment were unsuccessful.

The homes would have been restricted to residents 55 years and older. Access to the new development would be have been provided through a private driveway off West Street.

Frank J. McCoy Jr. and Dennis F. McCoy own the property.

The commission's decision came after a public hearing, which stretched over several meetings beginning in mid-March.

The development of age-restricted housing has become a hot topic during recent months as town officials try to deal with a sharp increase in the number of units developed during the last few years.

In February, the PZC took the formal step of abolishing these types of developments when it voted to eliminate provisions in the town's zoning regulations allowing age-restricted housing. That vote came moments after a decision to deny a proposal for a 59-unit development on a 42-acre parcel, which also was on West Street.

Several neighbors of the most recent proposal have spoken against the project at public hearings.

Among the concerns cited were compatibility with the historic nature of the Vernon Center area, the site's proximity to schools, water drainage, and traffic safety along West Street.

During the commission's May 4 meeting, Famiglietti tried to rebut the neighbors concerns, arguing that the development's design and density is consistent with the neighborhood, and that traffic impact would be minimal.

She also stressed that the site would be accessible to shopping services, as prescribed in the town's zoning regulations.

Famiglietti also read off a list of publicly-owned age-restricted developments with distances to shopping areas that are similar or farther away than the her client's proposal.

Accessibility to services was at the center of the PZC's decision to deny the 59-unit development in February.

The developers of that project are appealing the decision, saying the commission went against previous precedent when it denied the application.

Famiglietti also represented the developer in that case.

©Journal Inquirer 2006