WALLINGFORD — The site plan for a new police headquarters was unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission this week.
The plans for renovations to 100 Barnes Road, a 41,000 square foot office building formerly home to 3M, include a new public entrance on the south side which pays architectural homage to the Wallingford Armory, where the police department is currently located. The town purchased 100 Barnes Road for $1.76 million in July 2021.
“The public entry that is proposed for the south side is going to pay respects to the former armory building on (North) Main Street. So we have two towers that mimic the armory structure on (North) Main Street, with an identifiable entry for the public,” said Brian Humes, of Jacunski Humes Architects, during Monday’s meeting. The firm has been hired by the town to design the new police headquarters.
The renovation, which comes with an estimated $24 million price tag, would also add a secure vehicle entrance to the north of the building and two structures to the east – a live firearms training range and a traffic maintenance and storage building. The commission discussed concerns about noise from the firearms training range.
Humes said masonry selected for the walls and concrete paneling for the roof would deaden the sound to a “reasonable level.” Additional measures are planned to prevent the building’s air circulation system from exceeding the town’s noise regulations.
The 75 foot long range is being designed for handgun training, which is becoming increasingly difficult to schedule at nearby ranges — particularly if the state police switch to utilizing the Meriden state police training facility as their default range going forward.
“The reason that they are requesting this facility is because proficiency in firearms is harder and harder and harder to achieve with the availability of outdoor ranges, or indoor ranges...” Humes said. “Their options are getting less and less. This is not unique to Wallingford, this is happening statewide right now.”
Commissioner Jaime Hine said he remained concerned about the potential for noise, but believes the project meets the needs of the police department.
“I’m in complete favor of this project and my view is if we’re going to do something, let's do it right and I think that this does provide the police department with things that they don't have right now that they need,” Hine said. “So I’m in favor of this, the only thing that I would say is that I do feel that a lot of the questions here with respect to that training facility are questions that we would ask if this were a private applicant. I think that these are … basic questions that we would ask a private applicant and I don't think that we have gotten a lot of answers, or at least details with respect to the use that we would normally require or expect.”
In other business, the commission discussed changes to the incentive housing zone, as well as a plan for apartments on Hall Avenue. Incentive housing zone
The commission also continued its ongoing discussion of rewriting the town’s incentive housing zone to allow for more density in a region of the town center around the intersection of Route 5 and Center Street. Town Planner Kevin Pagini presented language that would create a new 7.2 acre subdistrict to the zone which would permit 50 units per acre for developments including affordable housing. The subdistrict would be around the Railroad Station Green on Route 5, extending to Hall Avenue, Quinnipiac Street and Center Street.
Density for market rate developments would also be increased to 40 units per acre in the same area, up from the current 26 units per acre. Two of the remaining three currently existing subdistricts in the incentive housing zone would remain capped at 26 units per acre, while the subdistrict centered on Meadow Street would stay at 15 units per acre.
Commission Chair Jim Seichter suggested that the proposed text amendment be modified to ensure that incentive housing applications be permitted to have a higher density throughout the town center than market rate developments, noting that in certain areas the opposite is currently true.
“If I choose to do market rate I can get 30 (units per acre), if I choose to do incentive housing, oops I can only get 26,” he said.
Pagini will be taking the commissioners’ comments and drafting a formal text amendment — and a name for the zone — for the panel to consider at its next meeting.Apartments
The commission unanimously approved a site plan for the conversion of a four-story commercial building at 43 Hall Ave. to an apartment building with nine market rate units and commercial space on the ground floor.
The application was originally submitted with an additional four apartments on the basement level, however that requires a special permit under town regulations. Yalesville Property Management will likely seek a special permit in the future.