SOUTHINGTON – The Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved a new housing zone that will allow developers to build senior housing at greater density than previously allowed.
Local builder Mark Lovley proposed the age-restricted cluster housing zone and used a South End Road property as an example of how it might be used. At Tuesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, his engineer, Sev Bovino, and local real estate agents said there is a need for smaller homes for older residents who want less outdoor upkeep but don’t want to move into condominiums or apartments.
The commission approved the zone in a 4 to 2 vote.
Supporters said the zone allows more flexibility and could help provide a type of housing that Southington lacks.
“I think this entire proposal is working smarter for our town,” said Jen Clock, a commission member. “It’s for more open space, it’s for more taxes. It’s giving the town a break from more services. And there is a need for more elderly housing.”
Dagmara Scalise, a commission member who voted against the proposal, was unconvinced by arguments from developers and real estate agents.
“I’m not sure if I buy into the whole need for age-restricted housing,” she said. “Looking at a balance for me, I’m not going forward with this.”
The age-restricted cluster housing zone is defined by criteria rather than geography. Parcels of land at least five acres, on a main road and served by public water and sewer can be considered for the elderly housing zone. Commissioners must approve the application of such a zone in each instance. Density would be capped at five homes per acre. In each development, a portion of the land would remain open space held by the town or a homeowners association.
On suggested plans for the South End Road parcel, Lovley and Bovino showed six homes would be allowed under the previous regulations. If the commission approved a cluster housing zone, their plans showed 15 homes.
At its previous meeting, the commission voted against a similar elderly housing zone proposal from Jim Sakonchick, president of the engineering firm Kratzert, Jones & Associates. He represented local business owner and developer Frank Fragola, who owns 11 acres on Laning Street. Commission member said they were uncomfortable with a lack of maximum density in the plan.
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