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Mixed-Use Development With 'Affordable Housing' Aired at P&Z

The proposal is said to be Ridgefield's first application for a mixed-use residential/commercial project with an affordable housing component.

[Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version to correctly report that, as proposed, the project does not include any retail use and the traffic added would be minimal.]

An application for a mixed residential and commercial development that includes affordable housing received its second airing Tuesday at a Ridgefield Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) public hearing.

It will be continued on Feb. 12.

Applicant Michael Eppoliti told the commission that he expected to present revised plans to address the concerns of the Conservation Commission, the PZC and the zoning commission’s engineering consultant, Kevin Clark, but wanted to wait until he received all of them before starting the revisions.

The zoning commission acts as the town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, and some concerns were also expected related to that regulatory body as well.

The applications request approval of a building with business uses on the ground floor and 12 apartments above — four two-bedroom units and eight one-bedroom units. The one-acre property is located at 159 Danbury Road in a B-3 business zone.

Eppoliti has requested approval for the apartments under the state’s affordable housing law, 8-30g, which makes it harder for local regulatory commissions to turn down the proposals. Under the law, the developer would have to put deed restrictions on at least four of the 12 apartments mandating rents that are below the local market rate.

Last summer, Eppoliti sued the Ridgefield PZC over wetland permit restrictions it approved for a different affordable housing development he sought approval for on North Salem Road.

According to a staff report by Planning Director Betty Brosius, this is Ridgefield’s first mixed-use development involving an affordable housing application.

Her report said the property is located “in what may be considered a ‘transitional zone’ between commercial and residential zones.”

Eppoliti assured the commission that the only uses for the commercial space on the first floor of the development would be uses normally permitted in a B-3 zone. This was a point that Brosius’s report insisted on.

The applicant’s engineering and architectural experts testified that they were already planning to make revisions to the storm water drainage system in accordance with the wishes of the various town commissions. Those revisions would be presented at the Feb. 12 continuation of the public hearing, they said.

The rear of the property drains into a wetland area, which raises concerns about pollutants and possible storm flooding and erosion.

Another concern is traffic, because of rush hour traffic congestion that already exists on Danbury Road, but Eppolitti's traffic expert, Michael Galante, said the development would only slightly increase peak vehicle traffic at that location.

Brosius’s report said the state Department of Transportation raised no objection to the proposed development.

Alexis January 09, 2013 at 12:25 PM
I'm not sure Ridgefield needs more retail. The address in question is probably a good location for this mixed use project. I don't see this as a "residential area" of town as there are businesses surrounding it. It's my feeling that Ridgefield has more retail space and vacancies than ever before and this project might serve the town better years from now.
Alexis January 09, 2013 at 12:26 PM
The small town appeal of Ridgefield is long gone with all the building along its main streets.
Lisa Buchman (Editor) January 09, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Thanks Alexis. What do others think—are the vacancies around town a sign that Ridgefield doesn't need additional retail space?
Michael Eppoliti January 09, 2013 at 01:58 PM
There are some minor inaccuracies in this article I would like to clear up. Retail uses are NOT proposed for this project, retail is not a permitted use in the zone. Secondly, there was no testimony that this project was going to increase traffic on Danbury Road by 2%. The testimony was that in order to accurately determine how this project would impact the traffic on Danbury Road, the traffic engineer increases the current volume of traffic on Danbury Road by 2% per year in order to account for any other development that may take place in the vicinity and for general economic growth in the area. He then applies our estimated traffic to the inflated figure in order to understand how the additional traffic generated by our project will impact Danbury Road. This project is estimated to generate a total of 13 vehicle trips during the morning peak hours and 16 trips during the afternoon peak hours. The town's traffic consultant and our consultant are in agreement that this project will have an insignificant effect on the overall operation of Danbury Road.
Alexis January 09, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Thank you, I stand corrected, B-3 zone is for Office and Service Oriented Businesses. I agree this project's traffic impact would be rather insignificant. The town needs affordable housing and I see no reason given where this project is located that it should meet with any resistance.
Gary Jeanfaivre (Editor) January 09, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Thank you for bringing the inaccuracies to our attention, Michael. I have made the necessary corrections and added an editor's note to inform readers of the changes. Gary Jeanfaivre Patch Regional Editor
John Symon January 12, 2013 at 06:45 PM
You know. You'd think it would be an out of town developer would be trying to destroy the character of the town. Not a current resident. This building is MASSIVE for the lot. As was Ippolitti's plan on North Salem Road. One word. GREED.
Michael Eppoliti January 12, 2013 at 06:57 PM
I don't intend to have a back a forth with you John, but the land is 1 acre and its in the B-3 zone. The B-3 zone permits 75% coverage. We are proposing 48% coverage, so your contention that the building is massive for the lot obviously is based in ignorance. The property was available for sale for quite a while, why didn't you buy it and turn it into a park?
John Symon January 16, 2013 at 01:47 AM
The building is massive given what is there currently. If I had been born with a silver spoon, perhaps I would have turned it into a park. Was that a concept you contemplated?
Michael Eppoliti January 16, 2013 at 02:47 AM
The P&Z commission re-zoned the property to the B-3 zone from the much more restrictive DPD zone. We could build 17,000 sf of medical space or 30 one bedroom apartments on the lot, instead we want to develop the property in a manner that is consistent with the neighborhood and the town's master plan of development. The building has a 5,997 sf footprint on a 1 acre lot, so I find it hard to understand how you can claim the building is too big. So, because the property is currently under utilized means that it should stay that way? So if a building lot has nothing on it, should it remain that way? If I recall correctly, your family used to build houses in Ridgefield. How many building lots did they leave undeveloped or turn into parks? I wouldn't know anything about silver spoons, i wasnt born with one. I have worked hard my entire life. All I'm trying to do is develop our property as we are entitled to, and for that i'm called greedy. My neighbors support the project and feel it will improve the neighborhood. The fact is that people Iike you want to prevent other people from using their property. If you don't want certain properties developed, the put your money where your mouth is and buy it yourself.

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