WALLINGFORD – The Town Council has decided to move forward with an Incentive Housing Zone without an updated traffic study.
During a joint meeting of the Town Council and Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night, the council voted 6 to 1 to move proceed without a new study. Town Councilor Craig Fishbein cast the lone dissenting vote. Fishbein has pushed for the traffic study for months, saying the housing zone is too large an initiative to undertake without gathering all information first.
“I remain concerned,” Fishbein said. “Once this horse gets out of the barn, it ain’t coming back.”
Town Council Chairman Bob Parisi said the council would take up a resolution to approve the housing zone at a meeting in the near future. Once approved by the council, regulations must be sent to the state Office of Policy Management. After approval at the state level, regulations would be sent back to the PZC, which must hold a public hearing before final approval.
An Incentive Housing Zone would create zoning regulations for Hall Avenue and Quinnipiac, North Cherry, Meadow, Center and North Colony streets, giving the town an opportunity to get state funding while controlling the design of new developments.
Developers would have the option of adhering to existing zoning regulations, or abiding by new, incentivized regulations put forth by the housing zone. By adopting such regulations, municipalities can receive up to $20,000 in state funding for pre-development studies and up to another $50,000 if at least 250 housing units are built in the zone.
“I think the reality is this will be a good move for Wallingford at this time,” PZC Commissioner James Fitzsimmons said.
Commission member Patrick Birney said Monday night that in the spring he though a new traffic study was necessary.
“I’ve reconsidered my support for the study,” Birney said. “I think we should move forward without the new traffic study.”
The study would cost about $10,000, according to Town Planner Kacie Costello. A 2009 study can be used, along with information from the state Department of Transportation, she said.
“My position is that I don’t think a new traffic study is needed,” Costello said. “I don’t think it will provide us with any additional information because not a lot has changed.”