Builder would mix apartments and businesses

Michael Eppoliti would use the state affordable housing law a little differently.

A rendering of the mixed use building proposed for Danbury Road, a little north of Copps Hill Plaza.

Using the state affordable housing law a little differently, Michael Eppoliti plans a mixed-use development with 12 apartments over ground floor businesses on Route 35 north of Copps Hill.

It’s unusual for the affordable housing law, 8-30g — which allows developers to avoid most zoning rules, if 30% of housing units qualify as “affordable” — to be used for a mixed use development with half its tenants businesses.

“I believe it’s a first for Ridgefield, but it’s been done several times across the state,” Mr. Eppoliti said. “It’s definitely been done before.”

Mr. Eppoliti filed an application for the proposed development with the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, and it was expected to be formally accepted Wednesday night.

Town Planner Betty Brosius said she would recommend the plan be scheduled for a public hearing in late December or early January.

The one-acre property is at 159 Danbury Road, location of the Bone Jour dog care facility, between Copps Hill Road and town’s Recreation Center property. It is flanked by the Pamby’s auto service center and the Enchanted Garden.

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Although he said the decision was dictated by the site, Mr. Eppoliti is excited that the gambrel-roofed building will face north, toward the rec center property and southbound traffic approaching Ridgefield’s commercial district.

“The location is fantastic. It really is the first business property you’re going to see entering downtown Ridgefield,” he said.

The plan is for 37 parking spaces on the property, with a sidewalk connecting it to neighboring properties.

Of the 12 apartment proposed, four would be “affordable” under the state guidelines, and eight would be market rate.

Mr. Eppoliti emphasized that although he is using the 8-30g rule, his proposal meets almost all the requirements of the B-3 zone that governs the site.

“We worked hard to comply with the underlying zone as much as possible,” he said. “We comply with all setbacks, parking, lot coverage and overall density,” he said.

The aspect of his proposal which doesn’t meet the regulations is the residential density. Under the rules governing the area, his proposal could have only two apartments, over the commercial uses. His plan is for 12.

The affordable units would have a high rent of $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 at 60% of the state median income for a family of one and a half — a family size possible in the universe of state statistical calculations.

Asked for her overview of the project, Ms. Brosius focused on the mixed use aspect of it.

“The plan is a good example of mixing residential use with commercial,” she said, “with apartments located above the business uses and accessible by elevators. It will therefore be possible to provide handicapped accessibility to the units, and they will be attractive to seniors or others who do not want to use stairs for second-floor living.”

She added, “The applicant has maximized the use of the non-wetland area on the site, so the wetlands board will have to look carefully at the design in relation to protecting the water quality of the wetlands.”


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