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Southington planners consider housing, approve rezoning

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SOUTHINGTON – While a proposed age-restricted housing development off Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike took a step forward this week, town leaders are still deliberating on drainage efforts to ensure storms don’t flood the area.

Tony Denorfia of AA Denorfia Building and Development wants to build 23 two and three-bedroom homes for those 55 and over. In addition to needing less space, Denorfia said these buyers are also looking to avoid lawn care and other outside maintenance. Size will range from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet.

In April, town planners approved Denorfia’s request to rezone the 10-acre property at 570 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike as an age-restricted cluster housing zone. This allows greater density than normally allowed in residential zones in exchange for preserved green space and a portion of affordable housing.

On Tuesday, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special permit for Denorfia’s project. Commissioners considered also approving the site plan application which would have allowed Denorfia to start building but tabled the matter.

Much of the discussion about the development among planners, neighbors and the developer’s representatives focused on run-off, drainage and stormwater.

Drainage concerns

Mary Ellen Hobson, a Blatchley Avenue resident who lives adjacent to the project, spoke in favor of the development. Denorfia is building stormwater control measures such as swales to ensure there’s no flooding during heavy rains. Hobson had questions about who would maintain those measures but was generally pleased that the developer was ensuring flooding wouldn’t be a problem.

She was also glad that Denorfia was careful about preserving old trees on her property and had buffer areas between her property and the new development.

“I’d always like to see more but they’ve done a good job here,” Hobson said.

One of her worries was the failure of a detention pond in the nearby Hillcrest development. Stephen Giudice, an engineer representing Denorfia, said the housing project was designed to handle heavy storms and the overflow of the Hillcrest pond.

“We did take that into consideration,” he said.

Jim Grappone, assistant town engineer, on Tuesday asked the commission for more time to consider Denorfia’s plans. Giudice agreed and the commission voted to table the application.

Denorfia said he expects a vote at the meeting this month. In addition to the houses he plans to build, he’ll also remodel and sell a 1920 house that’s on the property.

Objections to the plan

Larry DePaolo, a Blatchley Avenue resident, opposed the development. Town residents have made it clear that they’re opposed to more housing, DePaolo said.

“What benefit is that to Southington?” he said of Denorfia’s development.

Bob Hammersley, the planning commission chairman, said the commission must allow a developer to build if they meet the town’s requirements.

Rezoning approval granted

On Tuesday, the commission also approved a zone change for property at the corner of Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike and Clark Street.

The owner, Peter DiClementi, was looking to rezone more of the land to allow for businesses.The previous owner of the property successfully applied to have much of the land rezoned from industrial to business in 2020. At the time, landowners proposed a Jersey Mike's sandwich shop and a Sunoco gas station for the corner.

Hammersley said the split zoning change was approved as a compromise to allow those plans to go forward while not removing all the industrial land on that corner. He said industrial land is valuable to the town since it generates taxes but not the expense of residents and accompanying services.

Caleb Cowles, a commission member, said he felt “hoodwinked” when the request to rezone the rest of the property came in. Other commission members had similar comments, regretting the split zoning but realizing it presented a problem for the property owner that needed to be addressed.

“We probably should have said, ‘One way or the other,’” in 2020, said Peter Santago, a commission member. “We created a landlocked condition.”

Commissioners were eager to see development on that corner and the renovation or removal of unsightly industrial buildings and quonset huts. Changing the entire property to business would be more likely to make that happen.

“I’d rather see something happen to get rid of the blight that’s there now,” said Bob Salka, a commission member.

The commission unanimously approved the request to rezone the property.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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