A mixed-use development on Route 35 with ground floor commercial space and 12 apartments above — four of them “affordable” — gets a public hearing this week
So far, Michael Eppoliti’s plan for 159 Danbury Road appears to be drawing less public concern than other construction proposals under the state affordable housing law, 8-30g, which has facilitated approval of several high density housing projects in town.
“The mixed use 159 Danbury Road proposal does indeed seem to be less controversial than other purely residential 8-30g applications located in residential zones,” Town Planner Betty Brosius said.
“I would agree that this project is not controversial since it is essentially a commercial project in a commercial zone,” said Mr. Eppoliti, who also initiated one of the controversial 8-30g housing proposals. “Hopefully that will hold true at the public hearing.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission hearing will take place Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 7:30 in the town hall annex, 66 Prospect Street.
The project’s one-acre site is near the north end of the Copps Hill business district at 159 Danbury Road, the Bone Jour dog care facility, between Copps Hill Road and the Recreation Center. The property is just north of the Pamby’s auto service center and south of The Enchanted Garden.
Mr. Eppoliti and architect Doug MacMillan designed the project’s two connected buildings facing north, to take advantage of its visibility to southbound traffic heading into Ridgefield on Route 35.
“The location is fantastic. It really is the first business property you’re going to see entering downtown Ridgefield,” Mr. Eppoliti said.
The B-3 commercial zone that applies in the area permits a variety of business uses, but not retail stores. Mr. Eppoliti said he doesn’t have tenants lined up.
“As far as commercial tenants, I have no particular target other than uses that are permitted in the B-3 zone,” he said. “My best guess is that the space will be occupied by service type uses since the space is on the first floor and because of the building’s visibility.”
With four of the 12 apartments designed to qualify as a affordable under the state’s 8-30 law, the proposal will be exempt from most zoning restrictions. But Mr. Eppoliti, who unveiled his plans in the fall, said he and architect Mr. MacMillan have made efforts to keep the plans in compliance with most of the demands of B-3 zone that governs the area.
He plans eight two-bedroom and four one-bedroom units.
The affordable units are projected to rent at $1,463 a month for a two-bedroom unit at 80% of the state’s $88,800 median income for a family of three. The cheapest rent would be $899 a month for a one-bedroom apartment with tenants at 60% of the state median income for a family of one and a half — a size state regulations envision.
“The site is connected to the municipal sewer and water systems and is located within walking distance to all of the amenities of uptown Ridgefield including retail shops, grocery stores, pharmacies, dry cleaners, banks, restaurants and the Ridgefield Recreation Center,” Mr. Eppoliti said.
The Bone Jour building, a converted house, would be demolished. In its place would be two connected buildings, each with about 3,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space and six apartments above.
“Both buildings shall have identical architecture in order to maintain a consistency within the project and the neighborhood,” Mr. Eppoliti said. “The residential units will be housed on the second and third floors of the new structures and will be served by an elevator.”
“The project as designed complies with all of the dimensional standards of the underlying B-3 Zone,” he wrote.
The plans call for a 30-foot front yard setback and about a 90-foot rear setback. The building will be facing north, and sit close upon the lot’s southern boundary — about four feet from the Pamby’s property. On the south side where the building’s facade looks toward the Enchanted Garden property, will be a setback of more than 65 feet, according to Mr. Eppoliti.
“The total coverage on the site, once developed, will be approximately 48%, well below the 75% permitted by the B-3 zone,” he wrote. “Also the proposed building coverage is approximately 15%, well below the 25% permitted by the B-3 zone. Accordingly, approximately 52% of the site remains undeveloped.
The buildings would be below the 40-foot maximum height allowed in the zone.
The proposal calls for 37 parking spaces.
Ms. Brosius, the town planner, said that in addition to zoning considerations, the commission would use its powers as the Inland Wetlands Board to review the application.
“The Inland Wetlands Board will have to be convinced that the proposed development in the wetlands buffer is justified and properly designed to mitigate potential impacts to the wetlands from storm water runoff,” she said.