Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Planners nix condo plan as too dense

By Christine McCluskey
Journal Inquirer
January 17, 2008

MANCHESTER - The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously rejected an 18-unit condominium proposal Wednesday, with members saying the project was too dense for its 2.87-acre parcel and wouldn't fit in with the neighborhood.

Developers Ryan Ladd of Manchester and Tony Jetmore of Stafford had hoped to construct up to 11 two-bedroom units and up to seven three-bedroom units on the triangular piece of land at 775 Lydall St. that is now vacant.

The land's eastern boundary is the Manchester-Vernon town line, and its western edge borders the Lydall Woods development of attached homes.

Dozens of neighbors had voiced their opposition to the proposal at the public hearing last week and in December, as well as through letters to the commission. Vernon Mayor Jason L. McCoy and Rep. Joan Lewis, D-Coventry, also wrote letters in opposition, and the Vernon town planner, Planning and Zoning Commission, and Conservation Commission and the Manchester Conservation Commission opposed it as well.

The project's opponents said it would ruin the area's rural character and exacerbate flooding and traffic problems, while the lawyer and engineers for the developers said it would raise home values in the area, improve stormwater management, and have a negligible effect on traffic.

Commission Chairman David Wichman said Wednesday that he didn't think the development would cause traffic problems, and added that he would likely approve a project of 10 or 12 units on the parcel.

But with 18 units, "I'm not too happy with the proposed density," Wichman said.

Commission member Joseph Diminico said he had "a lot of mixed feelings" about the proposal and had visited the site frequently.

He came to the conclusion that it "would not really blend in with the neighborhood," he said. He said unlike Lydall Woods, which from the street looks like single-family homes, this proposal would look like row houses.

Diminico said he'd like to see the proposal changed to blend in more with its neighbors, which include several single-family homes on the Vernon side.

Commission member Eugene Sierakowski said he'd also prefer to see a development for the parcel of about three units per acre.

Commission alternate Eric Prause said he thought the drainage system proposed would alleviate the current flooding problems Lydall Woods residents complained of.

But "visually, it doesn't give off a rural kind of charm" that is hoped for in the town's three conservation development areas, Prause said. The parcel is in one of these three areas.

The property's density with the proposed condominiums would have been about 6.3 units per acre.

The rural residence zone the property is in now allows 1.3 units per acre. The planned residence zone the applicants had requested a change to allows 10 multifamily units per acre.

The town's Plan of Conservation and Development suggests conservation development areas have no more than six units per acre, though.

Bruce Fader, the lawyer for Jetmore and Ladd's Jetmore Construction, said after the decision that they appreciated the commission members' serious thought and would consider their comments.

Lydall Woods resident Cynthia Chanaca said after the decision that she feels she and the other neighbors were listened to and taken seriously.

"We really all came together," she said of the Manchester and Vernon residents of both Lydall Woods and single-family homes who attended the meetings to oppose the project.

Jeff Antil of 395 Lake St. in Vernon agreed, saying the neighbors came together as a "cohesive group."

©Journal Inquirer 2008