Wallingford PZC set to discuss downtown housing, new police station

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WALLINGFORD — The Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday is set to discuss increasing residential density downtown and the site plan for a new police station planned for Barnes Road.

The density for a seven acre portion of the lower downtown area could increase from 26 units per acre to 50 units per acre under a set of changes to the town’s Incentive Housing Overlay Zone being drafted by Town Planner Kevin Pagini. The changes are based on suggestions from PZC members.

Commission Chair Jim Seichter said the town has struggled to attract developers to build affordable housing downtown since it created the overlay zone in 2014. Affordable housing is important to make sure residents aren’t pushed out of town because of the price of housing, he said.

“You don’t want to squeeze people out or not provide opportunities for people to have housing,” Seichter said. “I think it’s very beneficial for a community to have a broad mix of individuals that make up that community, whether its young people, older people, middle class people, people who are just starting out with a job or families.”

The new zone subdistrict would be centered around the Railroad Station Green on Route 5, extending to Hall Avenue, Quinnipiac Street and Center Street. The change would allow 50 units per acre under the incentive housing zone, which requires a certain number of the units to be deed restricted as affordable housing, or 40 units per acre at market rate. Two of the remaining three 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.

Seichter hopes more units per acre will make development more economically feasible.

The agenda for Monday night’s meeting has the incentive housing zone proposal listed as a discussion item. Seichter said he does not anticipate taking any action that evening. If the commission broadly approves of the changes, the next step would be for Pagini to draft a formal text amendment. After that, there would be public hearings and then a possible PZC vote on the changes. .

On Monday night, the commission is also scheduled to have its first look at the site plan for a new police headquarters at 100 Barnes Road. The town purchased the building and property in July 2021 for $1.76 million. The price tag for the project is expected to total an estimated $24 million. The 41,000-square-foot building was previously home to offices for 3M.

The town has hired Jacunski Humes Architects to lead the design process. The project is being overseen by the Wallingford Police Station Steering Committee, which includes representatives from town government.

The site plan was unanimously approved by the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission on July 27. Pagini said the majority of the staff comments on the site plan so far concerned lighting, landscaping and signage.

“They made all the requisite changes that were required by this department’s comments as well as comments from Wetlands, so they’ll be going ahead on Monday and if everything goes well, I don’t see any reason they shouldnt get approval in one meeting. It seems like they have everything lined up for approval,” Pagini said.

dleithyessian@record-journal.com203-317-2317Twitter: @leith_yessian


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