SOUTHINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission approved an affordable housing development downtown Tuesday night, but reduced the number of apartments from 30 to 22.
When asked about the impact of the reduction and other town requirements on his plans, developer Carl Verderame of Hunter Build LLC deferred comment to his attorney.
Hunter Build proposes apartments on just under two acres in the middle of a residential block bordered by Liberty Street, Eden Avenue, Columbus Avenue and Bristol Street. Nine of the apartments would be priced affordable as defined by state laws, making the project more difficult for the town to deny.
During several public hearings, the PZC heard from a host of neighbors and area property owners who opposed the development. Residents objected to the increased housing density on the residential block, increased traffic and emergency vehicle access.
The commission passed the new zone and site plan submitted by Hunter Build. In addition to reducing the number of apartments, the commission required the company to test the soil on the property since it was previously used for the storage of home heating oil.
“The environmental investigation to me is something that I find needed,” said commission member Peter Santago. “It would be within our rights to ask for another soil check of that site to ensure public health and safety.”
While commissioners voted in favor of fewer apartments, they kept the proposed 65 parking spaces. Commission vice chairman Robert Salka said he was concerned about apartment residents parking on the street. With more spaces per unit, he said there would be more parking for visitors.
State laws restrict a town’s ability to deny affordable housing applications if the town doesn’t meet the state’s goal of 10 percent affordable housing. Less than 6 percent of Southington’s housing is considered affordable.
Since the town doesn’t meet the goal, planners can only deny such applications based on health and safety.
“We must operate differently on this statute than on other things,” Santago said. “We can’t ignore a state statute.”