Revised plans for Dany Letourneau’s 8-unit affordable housing development at 28 Gilbert Street, now under construction, were approved by the Ridgefield Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday.
As per the approved changes, the three-story building's roof line has been lowered by six feet.
Architect Doug MacMillan said the reduction in height was achieved by limiting the elevator's service to the second floor — thus the related mechanical equipment can now be housed on the third floor instead of in an enclosure on the roof.
In addition drainage on the site will be improved by adding more catch basins and increasing outflow from retention systems.
Engineer John McCoy of JFM Engineering said when he was asked to inspect the drainage system as it was being constructed, he found some problems with its design.
For example most of the storm water from the parking lot wasn't being properly retained and was simply running off the site, McCoy said. This problem, he said, will be resolved by installing an additional (fourth) catch basin in the center of the parking lot, as well as by creating a better grade toward a rear basin.
In addition to adding the catch basin some storm water filtration systems will be repositioned to improve their effectiveness.
"The key is that more water goes into the detention system," McCoy said, adding that the detention system will now have a larger outflow so that it passes water off site more quickly. He said the system connects to a 15 inch pipe that carries the storm water out to the town's sewer system.
McCoy said as a result of the improvements to the drainage, "the flows off this property are going to be substantially less."
The affordable housing project, which was approved with conditions in July, had originally called for 12 units but was scaled back to 10, then 8 after some commissioners expressed concern about the potential impact on traffic.
Town Planner Betty Brosius said she had town counsel review the changes and "he said it can be handled as a simple revision to the plan."
"The one point he made is that you should consider the changes under the same test as you did before — under section 8-30g of the affordable regulations... ," Brosius advised.
Rattled by a sharp increase in the number of affordable housing projects coming in under the state's Affordable Housing Act, and how they are impacting the town's character, Ridgefield is currently in the process of applying to the state for a moratorium on 8-30g development. Section 8-30g of the Affordable Housing Act gives developers the ability to circumvent local zoning laws and build developments that are many times more dense than woud be normally allowed under local regulations — providing the developer offers 30% or more of the units at below market or affordable rates.
Commission member John Katz said while section 8-30g of the affordable housing statutes "is a hideous abomination that we're all saddled with ... I believe this applicant has gone above and beyond the guidance of his professionals to improve an application we had already approved. I'm pleased by that and moving forward I would encourage it when we consider other 8-30g applications."
Commission member Philip Mische agreed.
"It's nice to see a plan after it gets out of the barn actually get improved...," he said. "It's kind of unusual..."
"Rare and appreciated," Katz added.
"Let's hope it sets a new precedent," Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti said.