SOUTHINGTON — Developers who were denied a special permit for an age-restricted housing complex off Wonx Spring Road filed a lawsuit against the Planning and Zoning Commission calling the panel’s decision “unreasonable and illegal.”
The housing plan failed in a 4-to-3 vote by the commission earlier this month. Neighbors urged the commission to deny the plan, citing traffic and fears the 40 rental units would decrease their property values.
Age-restricted housing was a possible land use listed in a court agreement between the developer, Wonx Road Partnership LLC and neighbors, who had gone to court over an earlier plan to put an industrial park on the property. During hearings on the special permit this year, Wonx Road Partnership representatives said they were bringing forward a proposal that they thought would have support from area residents.
Commission members who opposed the project said they weren’t required by the agreement to approve the developer’s plans and agreed with neighbors that rental units weren’t in harmony with the surrounding single-family homes.
Commission members who supported the plan, including Chairman Michael DelSanto, predicted that the developer would bring legal action if the panel voted against the age restricted apartments.
"This is going to court. We're going to lose," he said before the vote on Feb. 6.
On Monday, DelSanto declined to comment since there was pending litigation over the decision. Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner did not return a call for comment Monday.
Local developer Carl Verderame is a member of Wonx Road Partnership, according to state records.
The property at 37 and 43 Hunters Lane is part of the former Allied Controls complex, a company that moved to Waterbury three decades ago. A portion of the land contaminated by the factory has an environmental land use restriction.
In the suit received by Southington on Feb. 14, local attorney Bryan Meccariello argued that the application “satisfied the requirements of each applicable provision” of zoning regulations and that expert testimony supported the developer’s case.
Meccariello also wrote that at least one member of the commission had a conflict of interest, that at least one member “engaged in unlawful ex parte communications” concerning the application and that at least one commission member had predetermined the application.
He didn’t return calls for comment Monday on the lawsuit.
The suit requests that the court order the planning commission to approve the housing plan and award other costs such as attorney’s fees.