MERIDEN — Demolition is complete at the former Smitty’s Snack Bar and 12 trailers to make way for 12 tiny homes in the former trailer park.
Salvatore Carabetta, doing business as North Broad Park LLC, received a special exception from the Zoning Board of Appeals to change the use at 1173 and 1187 N. Broad St. from a mixed-use, 12-unit mobile home park with restaurant to a 12-unit detached multi-family development with no restaurant. The homes would be leased.
The Zoning Board of Appeals granted the request with conditions this past summer. The original designation had been non-conforming mixed use in a residential zone and required the special exception. The current layout has two existing mobile homes at 1173 North Broad St. The new proposal will place all 12 units at 1187 N. Broad on a concrete slab.
Local attorney Dennis Ceneviva, who represents Carabetta, told the ZBA members the 32,505 square-foot lot will host a Tiny Home Community, a trend that is growing across the country, and provides a type of permanent housing, according to ZBA minutes.
“Atty. Ceneviva stated that the biggest benefit of the project is that it will have a positive impact on the value of the properties in the neighborhood,” according to ZBA minutes.
The city currently doesn’t have a formal definition of a tiny house, but at 480-square feet for a two-bedroom, “that might be considered a tiny house,” said associate City Planner Brian Grubb.
Michael Flanders, project manager for Carabetta Construction, explained that the development will be comprised of ten 12-foot-by-40 foot two-bedroom units and two 12-foot-by-32-foot one-bedroom units, all rental.
Three tenants of the former trailers relocated themselves out of the park, Flanders said. The new tenants will fill out an application to move into the new homes.
In the front, a well-lit gazebo structure will house a central mailbox unit. A one-way road circles the community for traffic flow and the electrical will be all underground.
“I think it’s been described as many different things,” Flanders said this week. “There is the trend of tiny houses, and small dwelling units. These are 12 new single-family market rate homes.”
The smaller sizes are perfect for empty nesters, and there is definitely a trend and a need, Flanders said. The development will be similar to communities in areas such as Florida. Construction is expected to be completed in several months.
“We’re in pretty good shape, Flanders said. “We’re putting in the sewers now, water is next, then it’s the foundations.What is a tiny house?
According to Realtor.com, tiny homes are typically between 100 and 400 square feet.
While there isn’t a set standard, a tiny house rarely exceeds 500 square feet. Beyond that size, they’re just small.
The ZBA put some conditions on the approval:
New concrete driveway aprons are required to be installed at both driveway locations. The roadway must include “No Parking Fire Lane” signs to be installed along the 16-foot-wide driveway that loops around the site. Signs should be installed every 100 feet.
Developers must provide detail of the proposed light fixtures on the plan to be approved by staff, and elongate the unit parking areas to accommodate parking two cars including the utilization of the 10-by-10 foot concrete patio area. They must also provide detail of the patio area and landscaping around the mail gazebo and two visitor parking spaces to the south of the visitor gazebo. They must also provide a bond to be set by planning staff for public improvements.
Smitty’s Snack Bar provided patrons fried food and seafood from the shack on North Broad Street for more than 30 years.
It was opened by Dorothy E. Smith and Nelson B. Smith in 1956. After Nelson Smith died in 1967, his wife Dorothy ran the snack bar herself before retiring around 1998.
Among Smitty’s menu items were foot-long hot dogs, hamburgers, fried clam strips, French fries, and a selection of candy. It later became a southern barbecue eatery serving southern cooking but fell into disrepair in recent years.
“The reason for approval of the special exception is that it is an improvement of the site and the neighborhood,” the ZBA noted in its minutes.