Wetlands may sink affordables

The house now on the lot at 24 North Street. —Press photo

A six-unit multifamily project proposed at 24 North Street appears headed toward rejection by the Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Board.

Acting first on the wetlands aspect of the plan Tuesday night, Feb. 12, the board tabled a motion to reject Ridgefield Modular Home Corp.’s application for a summary ruling to allow “disturbance and activity within the upland review area” of a wetland.

The board asked to seek a “peer review” analysis by town-chosen consultants of revised plans presented by the developer’s team of experts at the last public hearing session, Jan. 29.

The board’s lawyer, Thomas Beecher, advised that while it was unusual to accept further information after the close of a public hearing, the circumstances surrounding the application justified the step.

In particular, he said, the applicant had presented complex and drastically changed plans at the last public hearing session, then refused to allow the hearing to be extended.

“The last night, everyone got over 75 pages worth of data from the applicant, then the applicant closed the door on any meaningful review,” Mr. Beecher said.

Board member Michael Autuori moved that the wetlands application be denied. He was concerned that the height of a proposed building, right along the property line, would keep an accessway on a neighboring property in the shade, necessitating the use of sand and salt in the winter, which would then wash into nearby wetlands.

His motion got a second, but other board members argued that the case against the application would be stronger with support from expert consultants in the record.

“Do we know there’s a real threat to the wetland without our consultant?” board member Patrick Walsh said.

Town Planner Betty Brosius said she’d try to get the peer review consultants to complete their report in time for the next meeting, Feb. 19. If the report isn’t ready, a special meeting could be called for Feb. 26.

The board must act on the application by March 5.

The related zoning application was also tabled, pending outcome of the wetlands board’s deliberations.

The proposed project began as 11 units in four buildings on less than half an acre. It was trimmed down to six units in two buildings over the course of several hearing sessions at which neighbors raised vehement objections.

The project was proposed under the state affordable housing statute, 8-30g, which frees developers from many zoning restrictions.

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  • rdg-oldtimer

    Way to go Mike!

  • Kirk

    Hopefully Wetlands will do what P&Z hasn’t the nerve to do.

  • rdg-oldtimer

    The “affordable” project on main street is so huge and out of place, it is disgusting. If memory serves, this monster was supposed to have the same footprint as the original house. RP, Rudy, P&Z; check it out and let the townies know what your thoughts are.

  • Kirk

    It really should be featured on the posters around voting time when Rudy and the P&Z run for office. What a monument to malfeasance.

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