Stonington – The Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on Tuesday into a proposal to build a 100-unit housing development, which would combine affordable and market-priced housing, on the vacant 2.4-acre lawn in front of the Brookside Village complex on Route 1 in Pawcatuck.
Representatives from Brookside Associates Limited Partnership were continuing to describe the project, known as The Glennon, and its application for a special permit as of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. The handful of residents attending Pawcatuck Middle School had not yet had a chance to comment, and the commission had not made a decision on the project.
Project attorney Bill Sweeney told the commission that 30% of the mix of 33 studios, 43 one-bedroom units and 24 two-bedroom units in the four-story building would be dedicated as affordable for 40 years, which means they would be rented below market. households earning 80% and 60% of the region’s median income, or $90,000 per year. Seventy percent of the units would be rented at market price.
The building would have an elevator, fitness center, club room, and business center available to tenants.
“You won’t be able to tell if you’re living in market-priced housing or affordable housing,” Sweeney said, adding that the quality will be the same.
Sweeney explained that because only 5.7% of the city’s housing is dedicated to affordable prices, below the 10% goal set by the state, the project does not have to comply with the regulations of local zoning because the project has an affordable component. The only way the PZC can refuse to grant a permit for the project is if the commission can show that the project endangers the health, safety or welfare of the community and that these reasons outweigh the need for affordable housing in the community.
The project is not permitted in the area where the land is located and its design does not meet many aspects of city zoning regulations, such as lot density and number of units.
But Sweeney said Brookside tried to work cooperatively with city officials on the design and received approval from the architectural design review board. Sweeney said the design is not only compatible with the community, but superior to proposals from other affordable housing projects in the city over the past few decades.
He added that the project is privately funded and that Brookside will not seek any tax abatement from the city. Brookside’s parent company is Gilbane Building Co., which built and manages the existing Brookside Village and was the construction manager for the renovation and expansion projects at Stonington High School, Deans Mill School and West Vine Street School.
Sweeney said state traffic officials should approve a major traffic generator permit for the project because tenant vehicles will use the Brookside Village driveway on Highway 1. The traffic study of the project found that the routes can handle the extra traffic, which should have a negligible impact on delays. He also suggested a traffic light signal change on Route 1 and Pequot Trail.
Some members of the Board of Police Commissioners criticized the project’s traffic study last week, saying it failed to take into account the impact on some nearby intersections. The council also expressed concern about the addition of vehicles on Route 1, which in the morning is blocked by students and staff trying to reach the school and residents leaving other nearby housing estates. A sidewalk is provided in front of the property.
The Brookside project would become the last project with affordable housing in Pawcatuck, which has become a hotbed of affordable housing in recent years. Currently, there are four recently completed, under construction or approved projects in the village.
These include a total of 126 units in the Spruce Ridge, Spruce Meadow and Birchwood Farms projects, all located a short distance from Brookside Village. Additionally, an 82-unit project, 70% of which would be affordable, was approved for the former Campbell Grain construction site in downtown Pawcatuck, but residents rejected a tax abatement for the project.