MERIDEN — A former nursing home on Westfield Road could be converted to market rate housing under changes approved by the City Council this week, while vacant land on Kensington Avenue could be developed for manufacturing or industrial use.
The City Council unanimously approved the separate zoning regulation and map amendments requested for 65 Westfield Road and 525 Kensington Ave.
Both were recommended by the council’s Economic Development, Housing and Zoning Committee.
The first of the two EDHZ Committee reports recommended the council adopt zoning regulation and map amendments to add 65 Westfield Road to the Adaptive Reuse Overlay Zone, which allows vacant buildings that are at least 50 years old and currently vacant to be reused by special exception.
The second report recommended changing the current zoning district for the property at 525 Kensington Ave. It is zoned in a C-2 General Commercial District. The EDHZ Committee’s recommendation was to add the property to the Planned Development District or PDD.
The amendments become effective on June 20.
The 23-acre Kensington Avenue property is located at the corner of Kensington and the Chamberlain Highway. Officials have said the zoning change would allow for more manufacturing and industrial uses.
On Monday night, City Planner Paul Dickson told the council the site previously was owned by the Westfield Mall and had been used as an area to lay down construction materials when the mall was built.
The applicant, 850 S. Main St. LLC, plans to construct a manufacturing facility on the site. Further details regarding the specific proposed manufacturing operation have not been disclosed.
Meanwhile, the property at 65 Westfield Road is home to the former Westfield Care & Rehab facility, a 120-bed nursing home. Officials proposed that the property be added to the city’s Adaptive Reuse Overlay Zone, so it can be converted into residential housing.
The property is currently located in an R-1 single-family residential zone.
During the council meeting on Monday, City Councilor Michael Rohde explained the purpose behind adaptive reuse is to bring properties “that have been neglected for some time and abandoned” back onto the city’s tax rolls and reused with a new purpose. Rohde chairs the EDHZ committee.
“This is a good example of that,” he said, explaining the developer seeks to convert the property into market rate housing.
“It’s situated beautifully, with a buffer. It’s not going to have any effect on the neighbors,” Rohde said, stating there should even be less traffic than had existed when the property was used as a nursing home.
Dickson, the city planner, explained that in order for a building to qualify for adaptive reuse it has to be at least 50 years old. The nursing home was built in 1964.
The building has been “severely underutilized for over a year,” Dickson said. Rezoning the building as adaptive reuse is also consistent with the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development, Dickson told the council.
Reporter Michael Gagne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.