No decision on controversial Cheshire subdivision

By Peter Prohaska

Cheshire Herald staff 

CHESHIRE – The Planning and Zoning Commission once again this week heard arguments from multiple parties on a proposed development at 648 Wallingford Road and 66/14 Talmadge Road.

The Monday meeting featured technical and regulatory discussion and debate on the merits and demerits of the subdivision proposal. There were also some strong emotions expressed, with one member of the public, John Attwood, calling “the whole project something that gives your board a black eye.”

After the discussion, the commission closed the public hearing on the subdivision application. No indication was given as to when the panel planned to render a decision. The next meeting of the PZC is Sept. 26.

Speaking on behalf of property owners, Lauren and Earl Kurtz and Lovley Development, Inc., was attorney Anthony J. Fazzone, of the Law Offices of Fazzone, Ryan & Ricciuti LLC. Fazzone laid out his clients’ case, pointing out that the project recently gained approval from the Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission, after a lengthy delay due to quorum issues. Cheshire Town Engineer Marek Kement also approved of the initial plan, with stipulations regarding stormwater infrastructure.

Cheshire Town Planner Michael Glidden subsequently stated that, “I believe the record supports the application,” and that his office would be available to answer questions.

The development has been scaled down from its original version and changed several times. It has gone from 34 townhouse units, to 40 age-restricted houses, to its current incarnation: a cluster subdivision of 20 homes without age restrictions, sized between 2,700 and 3,400 square feet and priced between $700,000 and $925,000.

This plan, according to Fazzone, “completely protects the 3.5 acres of wetlands that are on this parcel.” Under the new plan, the open space would be “passive space” owned and managed by a homeowners association.

Fazzone argued that their engineer, Scott Hesketh, showed that “this subdivision will not present a burden on the existing roads.”

The issue of what constitutes a “benefit” to the town was debated. Planning Commission member Jeff Natale said building more houses in less space was a benefit to the builder, but questioned what the benefit was to the town. That position was echoed by fellow PZC member Casey Downes.

Commission Chair Sean Strollo countered by saying that, “the benefit to the town is you’re not ripping up more land,” and added that cluster subdivisions are the way the business of development is going, seeking greater efficiency as populations grow and green space diminishes.

Andrew Quirk, professional engineer with Kratzert, Jones & Associates Inc., who is working with Lovley Development of Southington, made the claim that forested areas on the site, including two vernal pools, will receive more protection under the current plan.

“Fifty percent more open space provides that much more benefit to those areas, which does benefit the town,” he said. 

Commission member Robert Brucato asked whether it would be possible to make the roads private, reducing the town’s need for plowing and garbage services. Glidden replied that it was a requirement that the roads be public.

Several residents spoke against the development.

Resident David Schrumm offered historical data that suggested the original amount of wetlands on the site was approximately twice the size that would be protected under the current plan.

“There was filling of wetlands — how much is debatable,” he said. “...The question is, what’s the town going to do about it?”

Attwood argued forcefully that, while he supports the idea of the cluster, “that’s not what’s going on here. What they’re really doing is taking away land to add another four to six homes. It should be 10 homes, that’s it.”


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