Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon PZC to consider plans for controversial site

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
August 3, 2006

VERNON - Seven months after rejecting a plan for an age-restricted housing development on a controversial West Street site, the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight will consider a proposal for a more conventional residential subdivision on the same site.

Local developer Kenneth J. Boynton is seeking to develop the nearly 30-acre site at 214 West St. into 28 lots for single-family homes.

Boynton had earlier proposed 59 units of age-restricted housing on the site, but the PZC rejected that plan in January.

The PZC is scheduled to take up the new application at its meeting at 7:30 this evening at the Senior Center on Park Place.

According to an application submitted by Boynton, an additional lot, consisting of nearly 8 acres, would be conveyed to Dennis W. Gliha, who operates the nearby Garden Barn nursery.

Access to the new housing would be provided by two proposed cul-de-sacs off West Street.

In all, Boynton plans to develop 42 acres, stretching from West Street almost to Tracy Drive.

Boynton's development plans, which include a 13-lot subdivision approved by the PZC last year, are the subject of several appeals pending in Superior Court.

The latest appeal was filed June 28 by Tracy Drive residents Frederick and Barbara Goff, who argued that the Inland Wetlands Commission erred when it approved Boynton's current West Street proposal on June 13.

The Goffs are plaintiffs in several other lawsuits involving Boynton and the town stemming from developer's proposals, including a dispute over whether a new road can be built on a right-of-way in the couple's side yard. That road would provide access to the 13 residential lots that have already been approved.

Further complicating the situation, Boynton has sued the PZC over its January rejection of the age-restricted development. That rejection came moments before the PZC voted to eliminate provisions from the town's zoning code allowing age-restricted housing developments to be more dense than housing in surrounding neighborhoods.

Boynton's application isn't the only item that could spur controversy during tonight's PZC's meeting.

Faith Lyman, 93, who owns most of the property at 243 and 253 Talcottville Road, is asking the commission to change the parcel's zoning from its current designation as a "planned development zone" to commercial.

A commercial zone permits a number of uses, including retail stores, professional offices, movie theaters, and research laboratories.

The 36-acre parcel under consideration for the zone change also includes a smaller property belonging to Robert and Carol Bardin.

The commission began hearing testimony on July 20 but continued its deliberations to give members from the Hockanum River Linear Park Committee the chance to review the zone-change request. The river runs along the property, which is on the west side of Talcottville Road across from Allan Drive.

Attempts to reach linear park committee members today for comment on the proposal were unsuccessful.

Lyman's property is one of the last remaining undeveloped parcels in the 275-acre Gerber Farms area.

In arguing for the zone change, local lawyer Joseph P. Capossela said the town has always intended for commercial development to be allowed on the parts of the property fronting Talcottville Road.

No specific proposal has been made for development of the site. Capossela said Lyman is considering selling the land, where she formerly maintained a home.

Because the commercial zone would allow retail stores at higher densities than the planned development zone, Lyman's applications has stirred memories of a 2004 controversy over "big box" development in the northeast section of town.

Last year, in response to the controversy, the PZC created the planned development zone, which required larger setbacks and required special permits for all proposed uses.

©Journal Inquirer 2006