SOUTHINGTON — A developer’s offer to expand and improve a key intersection helped convince town officials to approve a $100 million project off West Street.
Town leaders gave the Texas-based developer approval earlier this week for the plan which includes 255 apartments along with turning lanes and a motion-sensing camera for the West Street and Curtiss Street intersection.
During public hearings on the plan, residents, planners and representatives from Anthony Properties debated the traffic impact. Neighbors worried that the addition of 255 new families to West Street would make the area even more congested and possibly even unsafe.
Traffic engineers representing the developer said improvements Anthony Properties will make the West Street and Curtiss Street intersections, including two dedicated turning lanes, will keep traffic flowing properly.Unanimously approved
Despite reservations among some Planning and Zoning Commission members, they approved the development’s special permit and site plan Tuesday night unanimously.
Mixed-use residential and commercial projects are allowed along that stretch of West Street, they said.
Peter Santago, a commission Republican, said he’d read through all the materials presented by Anthony Properties. He found it very thorough and said it addressed all the town’s regulations. If town regulations are met, the commission has a legal obligation to approve developments.
“It meets our regulations, it does. Any other consideration would be biased,” he said.Traffic concerns, intersection improvements
Plans for the development show eight residential buildings containing apartments, two commercial buildings and a clubhouse. Access for residents and customers will only be on Curtiss Street.
West Street area residents were concerned that the additional traffic would overload the West Street and Curtiss Street intersection, leading to long back-ups and accidents as drivers going southbound on West Street tried to cross the northbound lane to turn onto Curtiss Street.
Brian Shiu, Anthony Properties’ development vice president, said Tuesday that he heard residents’ concerns expressed at recent public hearings.
His plan had included building a dedicated left-hand turning lane on West Street to allow drivers to safely cross it onto Curtiss Street. The plan had also included an easement of land to allow for a right-hand turning lane on Curtiss Street onto West Street, allowing more room for traffic to stack and prevent long back-ups on Curtiss.
On Tuesday, Shiu said Anthony Properties would make constructing that right-hand turning lane on Curtiss Street part of the plan right away rather than waiting until it was needed.
He also said the company would buy and install a 360-degree camera for the intersection. It’s the new method for timing the light, replacing the old method of in-road sensors that can tell when cars are waiting to go. Shiu said the camera would help the intersection operate more efficiently.Traffic improvements appealing
Jennifer Clock, a commission Republican, said her concerns about traffic were lessened by the developer’s offer to build a right-hand turning lane on Curtiss Street.
With that addressed and nothing at odds with regulations, she founder herself obligated to support the plan.
“I can’t find another reason to not support it,” she said.
Approval includes stipulations for the right-hand turn lane on Curtiss Street and a requirement that trucks use West Street for highway access during construction.
Bob Hammersley, the commission chairman, said those stipulations and other measures were prompted by neighbors’ statements and concerns during public hearings.
He credited Anthony Properties with being willing to make changes based on those concerns.
“I think they were being as accommodating as you can ask anybody to be,” Hammersley said. “They do hear it, they do listen and they did what I think is the right thing.”
The next steps for the company are getting state Department of Transportation approval for work adding the turning lane to West Street. Curtiss Street work only requires town approval.
Hammersley said the project also needs easement agreements with neighbors.
The 41-acre parcel on West Street is owned by the Tolles family.
Shiu said the apartments he’s planning will likely appeal to young professionals and empty-nesters looking for amenities such as a pool and clubhouse.