Update: P&Z Approves N. Salem Housing Project With Modifications

On its second vote of the evening the Planning and Zoning Commission voted Tuesday to approve the affordable housing project at N. Salem Rd. with modifications to be drafted within two weeks.

Update, Wednesday, Nov. 30

After further discussion and two motions Tuesday evening, the Planning and Zoning commission decided to approve the N. Salem Rd. affordable housing project proposal albeit with extensive modifications.

All but two members -- John Katz and Michael Autuori -- supported the motion. Katz and Autuori had set a prior motion to deny the application based on a lack of credible information and the extent of the safety concerns at the site.

Other members of the commission, however, warned against an outright denial for the purposes of avoiding a court case -- in cases of 8-30g (the affordable housing statute), it is up to the commission to defend any denial based on the information it was given.

"I think we're going to find ourselves in court defending something we're not going to win," Commissioner Nelson Gelfman said of the possible denial.

Conditions are being drafted within the next two weeks by the planning department to define the exact parameters of the approval.

Issues mentioned were the density of the project, sightlines on the state highway, infiltration of water into the soil and parking considerations among others.

The applicant, Eppoliti Realty Co., still needs a permit from the DOT for encroachment on the road, and the success of the application is also based on whether or not that goes through.

"We do have an obligation to find a way to approve this," Commissioner Joseph Fossi said. "By lowering the density of the the site, it can be a viable project."

"[State statute] 8-30g is our roadmap to determine this application," vice-chair Patrick Walsh said. "We have to look for reasonable changes."

Original story

On the surface, the affordable housing application for 7 and 9 N. Salem Rd. seems fairly straightforward: 16 units are proposed on about one acre in a residential part of town under section 8-30g of the state statute, which covers affordable housing.

But members of the Planning and Zoning Commission agreed Tuesday evening that with the number of expert opinions on public record and the amount of competing information on a number of aspects of the application, it is one of the "densest" in recent history.

"I can't remember an application when we've had more trouble wrapping our arms around the data," Commission Chair Rebecca Mucchetti said. "It is the densest application I can recall."

Section 8-30g allows projects with at least 30 percent of their units declared "affordable" compared to the state median income to pass more easily through the planning and zoning process. In fact, the burden of proof is on the town to show that health or safety concerns outweigh the need for affordable housing in the area, and Ridgefield will almost never be without a need for affordable housing, some say.

The application is not without possible threats to safety and welfare in the form of increased traffic, drainage issues, soil infiltration issues and emergency parking, but with three or more experts butting heads from one aspect to the other, the commission has had trouble coming to terms with what data to follow.

The Inland Wetland Board -- consisting of the same members as P&Z -- approved the alternative proposal from the Eppoliti Realty Co. with at least a 19-foot setback from the wetlands on the property with much less discussion.

When it came to Planning and Zoning, though, the commission struggled to find a core issue to work with. The commission has until Dec. 30 to make a decision to either approve the project, approve it with modifications or deny it outright -- in the cases of the latter two Eppoliti would then have the opportunity to resubmit the application with needed changes.

"To me it comes down to density," Commissioner Joseph Fossi said. "The parking, the [traffic] sightlines -- we'd need to cut density from 16 [units] to 12 in order to approve."

Others said a decrease in density wouldn't solve some of the bigger issues. Whether or not cutting density would increase safety did not appear set in stone.

The traffic sightlines along N. Salem Rd. do not meet DOT guidelines, but DOT has made exceptions in the past -- one possibility is for the commission to approve the project under the condition that this exception is made.

As for parking, the application with 29 spaces, two handicapped spaces and six compact spaces did not seem adequate to members of the commission, and the design of the parking lot presented concerns for emergency access.

"We need affordable housing -- kids can't afford to live here anymore," Commissioner Peter Chipouras said. "But I can't see 16 cars, 32 cars coming in and out of that site."

"It's a dense site that doesn't work," Chipouras continued.

A number of water issues also plague the area -- ask any of the neighbors who attested to drainage issues at the public hearings earlier. Water leaves the proposed property and collects in neighbors' yards, and although experts said this would not become worse with the new additions, residents were worried.

Soil experts could not agree on some of the infiltration issues on the property, as well, and some of the infiltration systems proposed to mitigate the issues could have an effect on the foundations of the proposed buildings -- a clear safety issue, according to the commission.

"The issues certainly outweigh the need for affordable housing if in fact they're right," Commissioner John Katz said.

Whether or not these issues warrant such concern will be discussed further next Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Fairfield County Mom November 29, 2011 at 01:09 AM
Hey Wooly, To think new constuction in this economy is a good idea shows your ignoance on what is happening in the real estate market. Enjoy the pic Itchy :)
Ron orson November 29, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Actually i have to side with Mama to some extent. Example the so called luxury apartments or condos at the intersection of 35&7. They fought in court for 50 Units and won. Built 2/3 of them and if i am not mistaken sold very few. Then abandoned the last building site of postponed the construction for lack of interest. It is like lets have a party and do all the prep and no one comes. In my view the affordable housing law is a scam an unfunded mandate and social engineering at it's best. And all it does is circumvent zoning and basically is a money maker for the builder if it works out. Clearly it did not in this case and we are left with an eye saw and a terrible looking housing project. Bottom line the law is crazy and should be repealed. The old adage that people of lower income cant live here is rubbish. I for one cant live in certain areas or neighborhoods in different states also. So why does this state want to allow it to happen with no restrictions and limits to some extent on building zoning rules. Bottom line social engineering. Also the Quarry Ridge development built on contaminated soil as some believe seems to be a little under sold. I am not 100% on this only going by the activity in the complex. So be it as it may i would think this law should be repealed. And from what i have researched in other towns it seems like people agree with the fact they hate the law as written and think it is very bad. So i think Mama has a valid point over your thinking wool.
Fairfield County Mom November 29, 2011 at 01:19 PM
We agree Ron! We need to move what we have on the market. Not build more. Hopefully, when the market gets back some momentum, there will once again be a need for new construction. We don't need to sit on more vacant real estate in this town. It will make the value of our homes go down. Is that what we want Wool? I'd like to see things get better. Not worse.
Ron orson November 29, 2011 at 11:59 PM
I agree Mama. I drove through town today and up and down Rt7. Their is so many empty houses and businesses it boggles the mind. As you point out. What the heck is more housing going to do with a glut on the market. I also researched Foreclosures. If the article i read is true 17 in this town. I was shocked to be honest. Their is something seriously wrong with this law that covers the 8-3g. I read it and if people took the time to do same it is shocking to say the least. I am with you and this madness should stop and stopped now. But State law trumps town rules so it can't de defeated on a town level. This law has to go and go fast. It also ties the hands of the town Zoning which in my opinion is disgracefulness at best. You point is well taken as far as i am concerned and correct.
Ron orson November 30, 2011 at 12:01 AM
The foreclosure number above should read 173. Sorry for the mistake
Henry Glawson December 01, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Sally, you've made it obvious that you are quite unfamiliar with the 8-30g statute. Read the law, learn about what it is intended for and under what conditions a permit can be denied, and stop posting out of ignorance. You are taking away from the credibility of other more informed residents who may disapprove of this project. If the town could have denied this, they would have. The P&Z determined that the flaws with the site were not significant enough to deny the project (and were correctable, nonetheless). By the way, where were you very recently when several similar projects were being built in town under 8-30g? This is the first I've heard of you speaking out against this type of project. If you are going to jump on the bandwagon, please learn the law first.
Ron orson December 02, 2011 at 02:48 AM
If this law is not repealed this town will suffer financial melt down. The sewer district is a disaster and if i am correct their is approximately 4 more sites being considered for cluster housing. Seems to me that towns like Redding has none and we have a glut of them. But Redding is smart they have no Sewer treatment plant and that means no affordable housing. It seems to me that the residents of this town are not informed on issues and vote in things without researching it's consequences. Basically this town is not the pristine new England town that someone would like to reside. This Law is going to destroy this town and other towns in this state. Only answer is to vote these legislatures out and have the law scrapped ASAP. This knock down syndrome will continue on any homes that are sewered and watter compatible. It is only a matter of time.
Ron orson December 02, 2011 at 02:53 AM
True their is no getting around it. That is a fact. Only answer is denial and tie the builder up in court. Either he will scrap the idea or run out of money trying to win his case. Towns like ours need a slush fund dedicated to giving these builders grief and costing them big time. Their is no other answer. The law is Crystal clear. It is Social engineering an unfunded mandate and a way to destroy nice towns. Basically it is BUSING WITHOUT THE BUSES.
Henry Glawson December 03, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Sally- In the spirit of not answering, I don't have time to address this right now- but don't you fret, I'll be back online to discuss in more detail later. However, since you asked if there was anything I'd like to know, I'll reiterate the only question I asked you in my original post: where were you very recently when several very similar projects were being built in town under 8-30g (some of which were very close to where this project is proposed)?
Henry Glawson December 03, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Ron- you need to check your facts. 8-30g DOES NOT require access to sewer and water. Furthermore 8-30g has been a law for 22 years and has been implemented in many towns, including ours. Last time i checked none of these towns have been "destroyed". Furthermore, the idea of tying up developers in court is not a solution. A special court hears these types of cases and are fast tracked through the system. In the cases where these projects were appealed, the result was less than desirable for the town. Just look to the former Red Lion site. I think that the developer of that project originally asked for 25 units and during the appeal, the court ruled that they had the right to build 50 units. Like it or not, this law is here to stay and the best way to minimize its effects is to work with developers to obtain better, less intense projects. Our P&Z commission has learned this lesson the hard way.
Ron orson December 04, 2011 at 03:25 AM
OK then tell me how a complex can develop a 50 unit or larger site without water and sewer. It can be dun but it would be to costly to treat the waste on site. And further more i believe this law is very bad and should be repealed. Basically it is social engineering at it finest and who the hell is the state to control a towns zoning laws. I would think if tested in a real court of law if someone would do that it would be found Unconstitutional as not being applied equally and fair. And if memory serves me the Red Lion builders wanted more than 50. But you may be correct. Either way these developments are a menace on this state and degrades property values. Not to mention it is an Unfunded mandate at its best. and in my view and many others. Lets see how people in this town dont go off the deep end when another 4 developments pop up in a very short time. And by the way if all of the laws coming out of Hartford are so great and people except it why are people leaving this state in DROVES? Not only are towns being destroyed the state is beyond repair and destroyed long ago. Maybe you should take a good look at this town. It is not a very pritty site any more or haven't you looked lately!!
Ron orson December 04, 2011 at 03:33 AM
Their you go a special court hears these cases. WOW YOU COULD KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER. Special court Rubbish. Hand picked liberal judges with an agenda. Tell me i am incorrect Sir?
Henry Glawson December 04, 2011 at 11:47 AM
I'm pretty sure that the equal protection clause is not applicable in this case. Furthermore you mention that these developments are "unfunded mandates". How so? The developer subsidizes the rent for the affordable units, not the town. Also, how are these small developments any different than regular residential subdivisions, multifamily developments or commercial developments that have been built in town without using 8-30g? And by the way, I think that many people leave the state because of the high cost of living and the very high tax burden. I'm sure that the affordable housing law is not high on these people's minds when deciding to move.
Ron orson December 04, 2011 at 02:35 PM
With all respect Sir do the schools fund themselves and does the tax payers flip the bill for the extra services. I personally think if the law is challenged correctly it would be found UNCONSTITUTIONAL. People are leaving for cost reasons and affordable housing contributes to these expenses. The builder does not build infer structure to support the increased population. If for one second you don't believe this do some research. People don't like it and towns hate it Period
Henry Glawson December 04, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Sally- Just FYI, the question in my previous post wasn't rhetorical. I was serious. Where were you when several very similar projects were being built in town under 8-30g? Did you live in town? Did you just move here? If not, why are you just getting involved now?
Henry Glawson December 04, 2011 at 11:48 PM
I'm also wondering if you've even taken the time to drive over (or by) the site where this project is proposed.
Ron orson December 05, 2011 at 10:29 AM
Sally Alexandroff 6:18 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Outrageous. The town were given all the tools to deny this application. By approving it, they are ensuring that all the coming 8-30g applications will also pass. Watch out Ridgefield!!!! I totally agree with this. I would like to know how REDDING controls this with no issues. They have NONE as far as i can see. It just wonder how Town seem to block all of this with no issues,And ridgefield has no issues with SLAMMING IT THROUGH. Their is something here that is FOUL here. Why is the Affordable housing laws seem to only effect certain areas??? I agree with you Sally 100% Cheers
sebastian dangerfield December 05, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Ron, How many affordable housing projects have been proposed in Redding? I have no idea. But we have Democrats in our town government who appear sympathetic towards these Hartford driven initiatives. The real focus should be on 2 things--replacing rudy marconi as first selecmen with someone who is more interested in Ridgefield's fate, than in pleasing his buddies in hartford. And second, find out what is the real reason Rudy wants to buy Schlumberger. I read the Press, and in addition to the mysterious art collector that in my opinion does not exist -(there should be a FOI request in relation to this issue. We will find out too late, but when the deal 'falls through" we can know more--) but in the Press Rudy says something to the effect "Schlumb initially put the property for sale at 9+ mio and now its at 6mio. Marconi anticipates a tax write off." Implying that we are getting a good deal. Which is either idiotic or dishonest. You dont write off a property based on the asking price. Whatever the book value of the property is plus the value of the improvements (buidlings) which have no doubt been depreciated and already valueless. And while I cant say for certain, the accounting practices at Schlumb, it would be beyond unusal for S to realize any property gains for income purposes throughout the years. So whatever price S bought the land for, IN 1948!!- is where the land is currently valued. So, once again old rudy is full of it
ET December 05, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Luca said, "...find out what is the real reason Rudy wants to buy Schlumberger. " Want to know the real reason the Schlumberger conspiracy exists? It's because parking is very difficult at Area 51 in Nevada - what with all us aliens buying oversized spaceships these days. So members of Ridgefield's secret societies are joining forces to buy Schlumberger as an alternate parking site. They will tear down the buildings housing the holy grail, move Jimmy Hoffa's body to the back of the lot, and schwing, they will be in business. Hope that clears it up for you.
sebastian dangerfield December 05, 2011 at 04:55 PM
thanks louis. nice to see you are back.
sebastian dangerfield December 05, 2011 at 05:02 PM
or wait et--you are peter. ha -whatever. i guess if you cant counter my valid and logical claims of shady activity, trying to paint them in a way that makes them seem 'crazy' makes some sense. All I need to know ET -is why an art collector that has existed now for about 2 months--wants to remain anonymous. ET will answer _thats for hm to know.--or something similarly weak. But, how about coming up with an answer to why rudy is keeping it quiet-but revealing all the details. If the art collector, ET, genuinely wants to buy the land, wouldnt he want to butress the legitimacy of his existene and sincerity by revealing his name? If it were a done deal , maybe there is no need....but this guy wants to buy , right? So, any smart business man is going to reveal who he is to give comfort to the electorate to pull that lever. Sorry, you are not smart enough to actually debate on a more intellectual level. Thats just sad for you. But Ive been on this earth long enough to understand the dynamics of business, and there is no compelling reason to remain anonymous, and a few reasons to reveal the name.
ET December 05, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Luca, if you had $10 million of artwork in your house and wanted to move it into an infinity more secure building with 8 foot thick concrete walls, would you announce your name to the world BEFORE the artwork is secure? Couldn't some unscrupulous person read about you in the newspaper, kick in your front door, and steal the artwork before it is put in the vault? Try this experiment: Call Brinks, the armored car company. Ask them for their schedule today. Tell them you are very interested to know the location of their trucks. Then tell me how that goes.
sebastian dangerfield December 05, 2011 at 08:39 PM
ET Im not sure if you are serious? Are you? So, here is what you are saying--I have (more than) 10 mio in artwork. My equation is this. I will buy a buidling for say 1 mio dollars to secure my artwork, far from my home. Because it is far from my home, I will have to hire security guards on a 24 hour basis. That level of security I will have THERE--but here in my house, I will leave my doors unlocked and not worry for a second? Why, ET , does he , in your scenario, not have security now, but will only have it in say, 1 year from now, or more, given the time horizon for environmental cleanup? Thanks--and see you later. Time to get a new nickname, since this one has also revealed itself as just another Peter with terrible thought patterns, and illogical and obtuse concepts. At the very least Mr Genius, a guy with such resources can establish a LLC and negotiate with the town under a coproration name that has no ridgefield address or ties. The art collector doesnt exist, ET. If youd like a small wager--Im certainly willing to bet that no art collector ever buys a buidling on that property. You said in a previous post , under a different name, that if someone is willing to put their money where their mouth is, then you believe them. Once again, Im putting my money up--so , in your less than intelligent analysis, this debate should be over. ET, phone RUDY.
sf December 05, 2011 at 09:41 PM
I was thinking same thing. Just set up a Cayman Islands Corporation or a Delaware Corporation and do your bidding if you have some security concerns. Ill agree that there is likely no art collector. Does anyone know if this falls outside the lines of FOI requests? I know you can go into executive session for this type of transaction, but I dont know if that allows one to sidestep the concept of freedom of information.
ET December 05, 2011 at 10:20 PM
So Luca, what you are saying is it's very unlikely a person would move his art collection from a less secure location to a more secure location. And both you and Steve are saying this individual should go to the trouble of setting up a separate corporation so he can negotiate with the town. But wouldn't it make more sense that he calls Rudy and says, "Would you like to sell one of the Schlumbeger buildings to me?" Why would he go to the trouble of incorporating himself first? So the newly made-up corporation name can be told to you? That's why he would go to that trouble? To make you happy, an anonymous poster on a forum? Okay, thanks for sharing your views.
sebastian dangerfield December 06, 2011 at 03:53 AM
No ET Not for me. But if he truly wants the property, dont you think he would want to lend some measure of legitimacy to the prospect? And, I can agree that he may have picked up phone and said you want to sell one?" But when it progresses to an advanced level, incorporating costs about 500 dollars, so if he wants anonymity but also wants legitimacy, it makes sense. What doesnt make sense is your scenario of a zero secure location now and a fortress sometime in the future. But since you seem to have abandoned that ridiculous notion, you have decided to try to make incorporating at an advanced stage of the process now ridicuolous. First you try for UFO's/ Then you try for --haha sure he probably leaves the door open. Now you are saying that the first call and now should be the same. And the funny thing is, your scenarios are all without any thought, and yet you want desperately to ridicule. Its odd...but keep trying--maybe one of your scenarios will make sense. How about try that he wants to take a stroll through berilym and oil contaminated soil to look at Renoir's _-that also would make sense in your mind. It wont to me.
sebastian dangerfield December 06, 2011 at 03:58 AM
sd Look, I know you deperately want to get a reaction. You came on this blog about 3 weeks ago appealing to mr gibney to try to elevate the level of decorum. And since then, all you have done is try to get me. Let me assure you, I dont care. You can tell me I am all sorts of whatever you want. If you have anything meaningful to add --or debate, let me have a look. But if your objective is to try to get me--I wont ever care. So, its your move--I am only telling you--Im an anonymous blogger and so are you--and I dont react or care what you say about virtual people like me.
sebastian dangerfield December 06, 2011 at 05:35 AM
et one other thought on the way you argue this issue. You ridicule my idea that it seems odd to not name the art collector --or forget to mention environmental issues at the outset of this issue, or include the concept of a tax write-off by SCB that makes no sense---and that I conclude we are not being dealt with honestly. You simply condense that into a 'conspiracy theory." Fine But isnt it odd that the only reason --I REPEAT the ONLY reason to buy this land is based on the idea that some evil developer will buy the land now --when he didnt buy before and build hundreds of condos under 830g. Is that reality? Or a conspriacy theory? From my vantage point, its possible that a developer will buy--but highly unlikely. And certainly there is a chance that 830g will be repealed before the real estate market turns up --if it ever turns up. But in terms of imagining the worst-and then acting on it--this is the only reason this issue exists at all. So sort of a strange angle to take. There is no REAL THREAT--only a potential/imagined threat. So, if you are against conspiracy theories, you may want to rethink why you want this property bought.
Ron orson December 06, 2011 at 11:07 AM
SD67 8:15 pm on Monday, December 5, 2011 Hard to imagine a more well rounded group of fools sitting around all day (not working) pretending they know it all. Luca, Steven, Ron.... are you people for real or just Tea baggers with no job hypocritically bemoaning our taxes that pay for all the stuff you love to use. Very interesting post. Sounds like you are a FLAMING LIBERAL. Was their any point in calling me a tea bagger. Yes i work every day and i am quite well off. But what does this have to do with this post. I vote and try to make this town not go to the dogs. Have you looked around lately. This town is not a pristine place to live any more. As the matter of fact it is nasty at best. And yes when i move some day i will develop my property to the max and reap the profits. I will sell it to a developer and such is life. Take my money and run away from this town as fast as possible. But until then i will try and save what ever is left of this town for others to enjoy. The way it is going is disgraceful. So don't put me into your little rant and don't tell me i don't work. Clearly you have some issues or cant see the potential of the dangers in this affordable housing laws in this state. I own a fair amount of acreage in this town and personally if i choose not to move these developments wont effect me one bit. It seems like you should think before posting rubbish about people you dont know. Now it is getting late i must get ready for my 12 hour day. Cheers
Michael Gibney December 08, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Please keep the conversation civil and on subject or comments will be deleted -- several have been already. If a commenter continues this behavior, he/she will be suspended. -MG


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