SOUTHINGTON — Public opinion was mixed on a plan for 83 homes on the former Lincoln College property during a hearing Tuesday night.
Owners of the shuttered campus are looking to change the zoning from residential to age-restricted cluster housing. That’ll allow them to put 83 ranch homes on the 32-acre site rather than the 28 houses allowed by the current zoning.
Dennis Terwilliger, an owner of the college property, said efforts to find a buyer or develop the site commercially have failed. He believes allowing local developer Mark Lovley to build homes is the best plan for the property.
On Tuesday, Terwilliger said he was also approached by a company that wants to put in 160 units of affordable housing. The town has only limited options for denying affordable housing proposals.
Terwilliger said the age-restricted housing proposal fit the area better but that an affordable development wasn’t off the table.
The age-restricted cluster housing zone allows a developer greater density than normal in exchange for preserving open space within the development.
Neighbors opposed, in support
The majority of residents who spoke Tuesday opposed the plan, citing traffic, concerns about wells and flooding and housing density. Several other residents said they wanted more houses in town that catered to aging homeowners.
Paul Dipietro, a Panthorn Trail resident, questioned why the town would change the zoning of an area just to allow a developer to make more money. He said college property owners could already build 28 homes.
“It’s not my problem if he doesn’t get his rate of return,” Dipietro said.
Val Guarino, a Southington Land Conservation Trust member, said the housing proposal was a “poster child” for unwanted residential growth. By approving the new zone, density would increase nearly threefold.
“This proposal is a perfect example of overdevelopment,” he said. “Approving this would make a lot of people unhappy.”
Some residents from Lovley’s nearby North Ridge development spoke in favor of the plan Tuesday.
“Definitely support the 55 and older community,” said Brian Decrescenzo, a North Ridge Court resident.
Pasqual Polletta, an Oakmont Way resident, said he was also in favor of the housing plan but wanted the town to require Lovley to finish a golf course planned for the North Ridge community.
Robert Hammersley, Planning and Zoning Commission chairman, said that wasn’t within the town’s purview.
Lovley said his plans for a golf course at North Ridge have been delayed by the need for federal and state permits for wetlands work.
The commission took no action on the plan Tuesday night but closed the public hearing.