GREENWICH — The application for a 60-unit building at 143 Sound Beach Ave. in Old Greenwich had its last hearing this week before the Planning and Zoning Commission, with no changes made to the controversial plan.
Commissioners now must determine whether or not to give developers the green light to get started on the proposed 52,000-square-foot apartment building, which would replace a medical office just up from the Old Greenwich railroad bridge.
Developers, 143 Sound Beach Associates, defended the proposal — which includes 18 affordable units, making it difficult for the town to deny the application under state law because Greenwich has a low affordable housing stock.
Adequate parking for tenants has been a major concern for neighboring residents and Planning and Zoning officials because the proposal only offers 47 parking spaces.
“There would be on-street parking on portions of Webb Avenue and Forest Avenue,” Michael O’Rourke of Adler Consulting, who did a traffic assessments for the developers, told commissioners Thursday night. “An additional 25 cars could be parked there.”
But Planning Director Katie DeLuca refuted his finding.
“It is my understanding in the town code parking is prohibited overnight,” on those streets, DeLuca said. “Did you read something different than what this is saying?”
O’Rourke did not refute the point.
Residents have hired an attorney, Jim Fulton, to present their opposition to the plan. Aside from parking, neighbors have also raised concerns about how traffic will be impacted — especially during beach season when residents are heading down Sound Beach Avenue to Greenwich Point.
“My clients have been patiently waiting for some reasonable alternatives in the design,” Fulton said. “The applicant has failed” to provide that.
Chip Haslun, attorney for 143 Sound Beach Associates, said despite these concerns the issue still boils down to a need for affordable housing.
“In fact my mother-in-law, Mary Lou Crane wrote the legislation when she was with the Department of Housing back in 1989,” said Haslun. “And the reason was ... it was so very difficult to get towns to build affordable housing that would serve the citizens of the State of Connecticut and all the people that actually serve us, too — whether it’s schoolteachers, firemen, policemen.”
State law makes it difficult for any municipality with less than 10 percent affordable housing to deny a development application. Greenwich is well below that threshold. If a proposed development includes affordable housing, such a town can only deny it if it can prove it poses a substantial public health or safety risk.
“But even in a great location like this,” Haslun said, “which is right next to the train station, right next to the tennis academy, in a commercial zone transitioning to a residential zone. Even if we made this a smaller project, I still think you’d see the opposition we are seeing here tonight.”Read Full Article
He predicted that, whether the commission votes to approve or deny, the decision will be appealed in court.
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