BERLIN — A public hearing on a text amendment to allow a proposed 319-unit apartment complex on Atkins Street to move forward will be continued Thursday, after residents aired concerns about car accidents, crime and the impact on neighbors during the first half of the hearing in June.
"It's not about the affordable housing, I think having affordable housing in Berlin is a good thing. But I think that it's way too many people," resident Maureen DeLude said at the June 6 hearing.
The public hearing will address a proposal by Rio Vista Associates LLC to create an affordable residential planned development zone and have it applied to a 13 parcels the firm owns on Atkins street. The parcels begin on the west side of Atkins Street, abutting the Pistol Creek Clubhouse, and continuing to the Middletown line.
At the hearing, Robert Berchem, an attorney with Berchem and Moses, who is representing the LLC, presented a conceptual plan of what the development could look like. It includes 11 multistory buildings with 319 units housing an estimated 487 residents. Most of the apartments would be market rate, with 96 units set aside as affordable housing, half of which would be restricted to residents making 60 percent of the state median income and the other 48 being for those who earn 80 percent.
Earlier this week, Town Planner Marek Kozikowski said there have been no changes or additions made to the application since that hearing.
Berchem told the commission that because the town is below the state’s goal of having ten percent of its housing stock considered affordable, the town’s ability to limit or reject the proposal is limited to action to protect a “substantial public interest in health, safety or other matters which the board may legally consider and which clearly outweighs the need, legislatively approved, for affordable housing.”
Nearby residents said the surrounding narrow, rural roads are just such a safety hazard already and cannot handle the increased vehicle load which would come with such a large development without risking increased car accidents.
"Pulling out of our road ... it's very difficult to see cars that are coming, they're coming really fast and it's very dangerous," said Suzanne Tobin, of Middletown. In the wintertime vehicles coming down the incline on Atkins Street slide off the road and come to rest in their yard on Pinehurst Place. "I feel that it's a significant safety concern.”
Commissioner Timothy Zigmont agreed that the winding “S-turn” Spruce Brook Road takes going east from Atkins Street is the kind of spot where he would respond to accidents when he was a firefighter.
"Personally as a fire chief, I pulled many people out of cars against trees or that were upside down, that's very dangerous," he said.
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