Neighbors raised concerns about plans to change 50-plus acres between Routes 7 and 35 from one business zone to another, a proposal made in combination with an open space donation that includes Little Pond.
Traffic was the problem most commonly raised by neighbors at a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing Tuesday night, Jan. 22.
“I can’t even get out of Old Pierce Road as it is,” said Joe Fabris.
The property in question includes Pond’s Edge Medical Center at 901 Ethan Allen Highway, which is leased to a variety of medical offices and health-related uses but has long history of light manufacturing and office use as Benrus, then Perkin-Elmer, and more recently Silicon Valley Group.
The property’s Route 35 frontage is mostly wooded, with a large water tower the owners say they plan to take down. There are about eight acres there that might be developed.
In all, eight people spoke at the public hearing, which the Planning and Zoning Commission continued until Feb. 19.
The owners, a partnership that goes by Ridgefield Professional Office Complex LLC, want to change the property from a Corporate Development District (CDD zone), designed for campus style corporate developments, to a more flexible B-2 business zone which allows more variety of non-retail business uses, on smaller lots, with a greater density of land coverage.
The land donation to the town would be two separate parcels. One is 15 acres including the six-acre Little Pond, visible off Route 7 just north of the medical buildings. The other is four acres near the end of Tally Ho Road.
The donation — 19 acres, close to half the applicants’ property — is designed to compensate for the discrepancy between the two zones’ coverage requirements, so the adoption of the zone change from CDD to B-2 wouldn’t give the owners a huge increase in the amount that could be built on the site.
Attorney Robert Jewell, representing the applicants, said that while their thought was to have the land be open space, he would be meeting with First Selectman Rudy Marconi to explore whether the town would like some of the donated land set aside for possible expansion of the District Two sewage treatment plant.
Neighbors from three different sides of the large property — Tally Ho Road, and The Regency development across Route 7, in addition to Old Pierce Road — turned out to express concerns at the hearing.
Mary Quaide of Tally Ho Road said her residential neighborhood was already afflicted by its proximity to the business property.
“There has been additional clearing,” she said. “The noise has increased, and visibility.”
John Tartaglia of The Regency of Ridgefield echoed comments he’d made at a public hearing on a different proposal, which would have allowed retail uses on some business properties in the vicinity. He tried to get the full transcript of that hearing be made part of the record. Commission Chair Rebecca Mucchetti said the two were separate proceedings and anyone who spoke at the first was welcome to speak at the second.
Mr. Tartaglia noted the way Route 7 goes from a four-lane down to a two-lane, and said the traffic volume in the area was some 24,000 cars a day.
He warned against any zone changes that would allow more development and traffic — especially if hotels were allowed, as is the case in the current B-2 zone.
“You’re only opening yourself up to a nightmare in the future,” he said.