Hawleyville Apartment Complex Developer Seeking Expansion Approval
The developer of a rental apartment complex at Covered Bridge Road in Hawleyville is seeking Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) approval to increase the number of dwellings that it would build on the site, which is near the Exit 9 interchange of Interstate 84.
Covered Bridge Newtown LLC, which gained P&Z approval in December 2015 to construct six apartment buildings holding a total of 180 units, is now seeking a modification to its special zoning permit, which would allow it to construct a seventh building containing 30 additional dwellings for a total of 210 apartments.
The firm has already completed one building at 9 Covered Bridge Road, which is occupied by tenants. Also, a clubhouse/rental office and an in-ground swimming pool have been constructed.
Generally known as Covered Bridge Apartments, the complex gained P&Z approval under the terms of the Incentive Housing-10 (IH-10) zoning regulations. Those zoning rules provide developers with two incentives — a much higher construction density than would normally be allowed, plus a commercial component for the project, provided that the developer designates 20 percent of the dwellings as “affordable housing,” under the terms of applicable state law.
Thus, in a 180-unit complex, 36 units would be designated as affordable housing, while in a 210-unit complex, there would be 42 affordable units.
Affordable housing units are rented out to people meeting income eligibility requirements at lower prices than the “market rate” units in a complex. The higher construction densities, in effect, allow the rents paid for market rate units to subsidize the rents paid for affordable units. Newtown, like many other communities, is under a state mandate to increase its stock of affordable housing.
It is yet unclear if the Inland Wetlands Commission would need to review the revised plans for the site, which depict seven apartment buildings instead of six structures at the site.
In 2015, under the IH-10 rules, the P&Z simultaneously reviewed plans for the then-proposed apartment complex, a church, and a diner for the overall 42-acre site.
The apartment construction project was one component of a three-pronged development plan. The second component was the adjacent construction of a new Grace Family Church, which has been built. Also, the commercial accessory component of the apartment complex was the proposed construction of a diner at a 13 Hawleyville Road (State Route 25) site.
Plans for a diner there have been dropped. A new owner of the 13 Hawleyville Road site earlier this year gained approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals to construct a gas station there. Such a gas station would be coupled with a large convenience store. That development proposal, however requires additional town and state approvals.
The magnitude of the three-component mixed-use development application in 2015, and especially the amount of traffic that it would generate in Hawleyville, drew concerns from residents who attended the many land use public hearings that were held on the topic. Many complaints came from nearby Hillcrest Drive residents, who raised issues about the proximity of the new construction to their neighborhood and the potential adverse effects of such growth.
A point of contention was the amount of new traffic that the apartment complex, church, and commercial property would generate in Hawleyville. Nearby residents charged that the new traffic would overburden roads in an area that becomes congested during the morning and evening rush periods.
To address the traffic aspects of the proposed construction of 210 apartments, the developer included in the P&Z application a letter from his traffic engineer. That May 20 letter is from traffic engineer Michael Galante, the managing principal of Fredrick P. Clark Associates Inc, to George Benson, town planning director.
Mr Galante provides statistics on anticipated increased traffic flow.
“The level of additional traffic added to area roadways will have a minimal, if any, measurable impact to the overall operations of area roadways and intersections. Detailed analysis [is] not needed to measure impact or need for improvements,” Mr Galante’s letter stated in part.
The high construction density of the apartment complex was made possible by the town’s 2016 extension of the Hawleyville sanitary sewer system to the site. In February 2014, voters at a town meeting approved expanding the Hawleyville sewer system to stimulate economic development in that area.
The P&Z is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Covered Bridge Newtown LLC’s requested modification to its special zoning permit at 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 18, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.
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