CHESHIRE – The Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this week approved a subdivision that has been the cause of debate in town for months.
During the Monday meeting, the panel considered three applications proposed for property at 648 Wallingford Road and 66/14 Talmadge Road. Despite some negative and at times heated public input on the proposal at previous PZC meetings, only two of nine commissioners voted against the cluster subdivision, thus removing a final obstacle for the Kurtz family’s development plans. The developer is Mark Lovley of Lovley Development Inc. in Southington.
Town Planner Michael Glidden, who supported approval, read the commission’s findings into the public record. The 7 to 2 vote in favor of a special permit allows for construction of 20 single-family homes served by public water and sewer and underground utilities. Any land not designated for development will be set aside for open space and a homeowners’ association will be created to manage the open space and the stormwater basin. Driveways have been designed to provide adequate off-street parking, in addition to attached garages.
Special mention was made of the two vernal pools on the property, one of which is a “high-functioning feature” that will be protected for the long term by the terms of the permit. The area will also connect with a “budding open space” and create a future green belt.
Commissioner Robert Brucato read a brief statement in favor of the application, stating “it will benefit the town, allowing more families to move into Cheshire...I find it frustrating that a small handful of individuals have been continuously accusing this commission and have been obstructing progress by holding up this approval of this new development, including other good applications submitted prior to this site.”
Commissioner Louis Todisco mentioned that he voted against the previous application for the property, but would supported this version.
“That was a much denser project than this (version), plus it required a change in zone,” he said of previous plans for the property. “There was opposition from the neighbors and while neighbor opposition can’t result in not approving a proper application, certainly we consider it. They convinced me that the last application was not in harmony with their neighborhood, and that’s why I voted against it. … Here we don’t need a change of zone. Twenty homes on 24 acres, everything fits.”
Commissioner Tom Selmont also addressed the neighbors who spoke against the application.
“I heard your arguments and they were pretty good, but at the end of the day, the developer and the property owner have the right to do what they want to do, so long as it fits the regulations…,” he said.
Commissioner S. Woody Dawson voted against the proposal.
“They knew it was R40 zoned and they took advantage of our rules, in all honesty. I feel that it’s making a big change in that area, in that neighborhood, and I just don’t feel comfortable voting for it, so I’m voting against it,” he said.
Commissioner Jeff Natale also remained unconvinced.
“I’ve asked the applicant for three months now what the benefits for the town were,” he said. “First answer I got was taxes. Second answer I got was wetlands. Third answer I got was, well, now we’re going to increase the open space. There’s a lot of questions that came up from some of the neighbors that I don’t know were answered adequately or totally. I don’t know that I’m satisfied with everything that was part of this application.”
Commission Chairman Sean Strollo compared the application to developments such as Copper Beech and Monarch Place off Coleman Road.
“I believe in cluster subdivisions, I believe in open space,” he said. “Houses sell here (in Cheshire) because we have a beautiful community. We have good people in town. And not everybody agrees with everything, and that’s part of life. Not everyone’s going to agree. That’s what a commission does. We all form, we come to an opinion and we vote on it.”