Contractor’s yard decision pushed off to July
A proposed multi-unit contractor’s yard — essentially office space for plumbers, builders, and other small business owners — will have to wait until July for a decision from the town Planning and Zoning Commission.
“The idea is that you have a contractor, maybe a plumber … that you give them a place to have a bit of an office,” said attorney Bob Jewell, who represented developer Larry Leary at a June 19 public hearing.
It was the second time that the property, located at 800 Ethan Allen Highway (Route 7), had come before the commission.
An earlier version of Leary’s application received three public hearings in 2015.
The commission approved the yard’s construction three years ago, but then a lawsuit filed by neighbors of the development led a judge to overturn that decision. The judge’s ruling stated that the plan put fencing and other structures within the lot’s yard setback — the blank area on a development from the boundary line to the first structures left empty for curb-appeal. The judge ruled the original application violated the commission’s own zoning rules.
Attorney Thomas Beecher, who represented the commission at the June 19 hearing, suggested they should push off the decision to its July 3 meeting, because the intervening weeks will give new commissioners — elected since 2015 — a chance to review the original application.
Vice Chairman Joe Fossi and commissioner Charles Robbins both recused themselves from the discussion of the re-submitted application.
Jewell said the plan presented at the June 19 hearing was nearly identical to the one approved in 2015.
“This feels to me almost like an administrative reapproval,” he said.
He said Leary is also requesting that the administrative fees to file the second application should be dropped, since the cost of the fees represented a “hardship.”
Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said he was satisfied with waiving the fees, because a bulk of the administrative work carried over from the plan submitted in 2015.
Only two members of the public spoke during the application’s hearing — both neighbors of the site who live at The Regency at Ridgefield condominium complex at 638 Danbury Road.
Len Doherty, the president of a homeowners association for The Regency, said he’d reached an agreement with Leary, in which both sides agreed that the neighbors would not appeal the project if the commission approves it once again.
In exchange, Doherty said Leary agreed to put up $120,000 in a surety bond as to not abandon the project, leaving a half-completed construction project as an “eyesore,” Doherty explained.
Beecher said the agreement should not be a part of the commission’s decision.
“I’m not sure if you as a commission would need to get involved with that,” Beecher said.
Sam Block, also a neighbor at The Regency, asked the commission who would be responsible for oversight of the construction — including blasting or possible pollution.
“The applicant has to pay us to hire an outside consultant that we choose to monitor it,” explained Baldelli.