WALLINGFORD — The Planning and Zoning Commission is hoping its approval of an increase in the number of housing units allowed to be built per acre in the Town Center zone will help attract developers to invest in what is seen as an area ripe for development.
Two items on the commission's agenda at its Nov. 14 meeting raised the allowable density of 20 parcels in the 7.2-acre zone near the train station to 50 units of affordable housing and 40 units of market rate housing. Both passed unanimously.
"I do support these changes to the incentive housing zone, specifically the ability to provide different housing zones in town. That is important," said commission member James Fitzsimmons.
The change also allows for amenities to be included on the first floor of the buildings to benefit those living there, such as lobbies, common areas and recreational amenities that can be used by everyone. That could help attract interest in the zone and bring in development, the commission said.
Jim Wolf of the Economic Development Commission said the EDC discussed the proposal at its November meeting and all were in agreement that it was a good idea.
"Everyone was in favor of what you have before you," he said.
"I'm certainly in favor of this," PZC Chairman Jim Seichter said. "We have had this incentive housing zone on the books for quite some time and we haven't seen much activity, so we decided to increase the density. We are trying to create some incentive for that particular area, so I'm in support of the increase."
The commission agreed that the changes should prompt a discussion of changing the parking requirements for the area. In September the commission opted out of a public act passed by the state legislature that would reduce the number of required parking spaces per unit. Instead the commission said it wants to take time to review the parking needs of the zone and decide if the number of required spaces should be decreased.
The state regulations require one-bedroom units to have one parking space, and two-bedrooms or more require two parking spaces. The town currently requires 2.5 parking spaces for units with three or more bedrooms.
The commission believes that the lower density requirements and a lack of space for parking lots is a major reason development in the area has stalled. The Town Center zone is seen as having the best potential to attract people to Wallingford.
The commission agreed to soon schedule workshops to discuss the parking lot needs for the area.