South Windsor PZC Members Discuss Apartment Expansion |

SOUTH WINDSOR – Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously this week to continue two public hearings on a project to expand a 165-unit apartment complex until January 11.

One request concerns the modification of the general development plan of Evergreen Walk and a special exception to allow the construction of units in 14 buildings: 11 with 10 units, one with five units, one building with three floors and 12 units, and a four-storey, 38-unit building.

If approved, the developers plan to start construction towards the end of 2022 and complete the project by the end of 2024.

The second request is for an amendment to the Buckland Gateway Development Zone to increase the apartment ceiling from 200 to 365 and “clarify” a requirement for residential use in the area.

Currently, there must be at least 1 square foot of commercial space for every 2 square feet of residential space. As part of the amendment, the applicant requested that the existing retail usage count towards the requirement, namely the new Costco store.

The modification would also eliminate 30,950 square feet of office space from the unit and redistribute uses between units to better accommodate the expansion.

One of the contested points of the proposal was the affordable housing component, with some PZC members pushing for more than the minimum as indicated by city regulations.

At the PZC meeting on November 30, some members recommended that the development include 15% affordable units, in part because existing Tempo apartments do not.

Howard Rappaport, of Continental Properties, said in Tuesday’s meeting that while the affordable housing requirement is not in effect in the area of ​​the proposal, the applicant is willing to comply with 10% affordable units. , but could not comply with the recommended 15 of the PZC. %.

“It is simply not cost effective to include more than 10% affordable housing,” Rappaport said, adding that due to the financial situation of the development, requiring 15% of units to be made affordable “would present a project. who couldn’t go ahead. “

PZC President Bart Pacekonis said he advocates raising the requirement for affordable units to 15% citywide, and would also like these units to remain affordable “in perpetuity”, as opposed to a minimum of 40 years.

Christopher Smith, a lawyer representing the plaintiff, said it was not clear whether this would be legal, in addition to reiterating Rappaport’s argument that it would make Tempo’s expansion unfeasible.

“I think your planner came up with the 40th anniversary for a good reason,” Smith said.

PZC members also discussed in depth the potential impact of the proposed apartments on the city’s school population.

Maura Cochran, economic consultant to Bartram-Cochran, said the information presented by the applicant shows that the school system will be able to absorb the increased number of development students, estimated to be minimal, but has not wanted to speak on behalf of schools. .

PZC member Stephen Wagner said he couldn’t think of a better use of the land for which the expansion was proposed, and understood the city would need to be able to absorb the additional students.

“If I find out at the next meeting that we don’t, that would be a problem for me,” Wagner said.

PZC deputy Paul Bernstein said he would be concerned about the number of additional students due to a lack of teachers, but the completion of the project is far enough away that this should not be a concern .

Pacekonis said he was curious about the approximately 880 square foot office space included in 33 of the one-bedroom units and whether they could be used as bedrooms themselves, noting that it was “pretty much about the size of a nursery “.

Cochran said his economic studies were done “in a very, very careful way”, giving more students leeway than the plaintiff realistically expected, but added that it would not be. not legal to use the office as a bedroom due to excessive occupancy.

Pacekonis replied that “legality and reality are two different things,” to which Cochran said the city has the power to stop the notional use if they see it.

Joseph covers East Hartford and South Windsor. He joined JI in July 2021. Joseph is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and is an avid guitarist and coffee enthusiast.

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