Two more affordable projects could add age-restricted rental units

Two age-restricted, 55-and-older apartment buildings are in the planning stages and would add 36 new rental units, doubling the size of the residential complex at the corner of Governor Street and Prospect Ridge Road from 36 units in two buildings to 72 units in four buildings.

“The Governor Street community located at the intersection of Governor Street and Prospect Ridge is expanding with the addition of two new residences that will complement the existing buildings and will join the current properties to create one community with shared gardens, patios, garden paths, and sidewalks,” said developer Steve Zemo in an Aug. 17 release.

“The rental homes will be age restricted to 55 and above, will have garage parking, and will be pet friendly. The property is surrounded by Town of Ridgefield property from the police headquarters to the Housing Authority multifamily buildings to the dog park.

“The expanded Governor Street community provides a rental housing option for those who want to live in Ridgefield without having to purchase.”

Zemo — a member of the Board of Selectmen as well as residential and commercial landlord, and one of the town’s biggest taxpayers — has been developing the east of Governor Street for nearly a decade.

In 2009, he built Governor House, a 16-unit apartment building at 76 Governor Street, near the police station.

In 2015, he built a 20-unit building at 86 Governor Street, the corner of Governor and Prospect Ridge.

Affordable units

Both Zemo’s new buildings are being proposed under the state’s affordable housing statute, 8-30g, which frees developers from density limits and other zoning regulations for residential projects with at least 30% of the units qualifying as “affordable” under state guidelines.

The town obtained a four-year moratorium on development under the 8-30g, but it ends in early October

Zemo’s release says: “62 Prospect Ridge will have 20 units, six of which will be affordable and will be opposite the town dog park. 84 Governor Street will have 16 units, five of which will be affordable and will be located between the existing multifamily buildings known as 76 and 86 Governor Street.”

The two apartment buildings Zemo has now in the area were both built under 8-30g, before the moratorium: the 76 Governor building has 16 units, five affordable; 86 Governor Street has 20 units, six affordable.

Zemo’s new applications would be the second and third 8-30g projects filed with the town in anticipation of the moratorium’s end.

Already submitted — and tentatively scheduled for Sept 19 public hearing — is a 30-unit project on three acres off Danbury Road, near the Founders Hall. The project — described in the Aug. 9 Press — is described as “age-restricted affordable” by its developer, Charter Group Partners, who built the 54-unit coach homes project at 77 Sunset Lane.

Zemo plans

Of the two new buildings Zemo is planning, the larger is 20 units proposed on 1.2  acres at 62 Prospect Ridge Road, facing the dog park.

Drawings by H&R Design architects show a three-story clapboard building with a pitched roof broken up by a gable and with a roofline that sweeps toward a tower. There’s a covered front porch, and two small balconies.

Plans are for 33 parking spaces — 13 of them in a garage, with a driveway onto Prospect Ridge.

The 84 Governor Street building has 16 units on seven-tenths of an acre. The three-story clapboard building has a pitched roof, with its gable-end facing Governor Street. Plans show 25 parking spaces, 16 garaged under the building.

“The new buildings will complete the sidewalk system that links the dog park and the adjacent soccer field to Main Street,” Zemo’s release says.

“The addition of the new housing will complete the vision of one community on the property and will create a vibrant synergy between the residents.”

Sewer issues

Plans are for both buildings to be served by Aquarion water lines and the town sewer system.

Zemo had representatives before the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) to discuss a sewer approval, and the overall plans have been through a “pre-application meeting” with town staff from the various departments overseeing land development.

The pre-application meeting files on both the 84 Governor Street and the 62 Prospect Ridge projects contain copies of a letter from WPCA administrator Diana VanNess.

“The project consists of 36 new age-restricted affordable two-bedroom units. Properties presently have two sewer use units,” VanNess wrote. “The WPCA stated that the plant currently has capacity; however, the sewer line that would serve these parcels has capacity issues.” Asked about the sewer approval, attorney Bob Jewell told The Press the situation surrounding the sewer line was complicated.

“There is capacity and our engineer determined that the line would be adequate with some work based on a study the WPCA previously did,” he said.

“The line at issue runs from this area down to East Ridge and then doubles-back under Veterans Park field.  It is the line that serves the town’s units on Prospect Ridge...

“They have been raising the issue regarding this particular line for over a decade, but it has never been repaired.”

Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli cautioned on Aug. 16 that since the projects had only advanced as far as a pre-application meeting, the number of units — currently 36 — might change as the plans progress through the formal application and approval process.